SpongeBob SquarePants is something of a modern classic. Released to the world way back in 1999, the year that computers were set to take over the world (ask your parents), the show was another of the wacky, weirdly designed Nickelodeon offerings that seemed to arrive every week.
As my childhood was in the early ‘90s, SpongeBob was not in rotation for my younger years, however I did have a flatmate who thought SpongeBob was the best thing since sliced bread. I never paid much attention.
Flash forward more than twenty years, and who could have guessed it? SpongeBob is still going strong, and I have changed my mind. I can only blame that on one thing – my kids. See, SpongeBob has been on screens for over two decades now, running movies and spin-off series. Via one of these, my interest grew, Kamp Koral arrived in 2021 and tells the tale of a younger SpongeBob and Co at Summer camp. This then leads to The Patrick Star Show and watching episodes of the main series.
Catchy tunes, jokes for all ages and fun characters sucked me into the world of Bikini Bottom and gave me a show that my kids can enjoy, all while not irritating me to my core. Then we discovered the 2020 remaster, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, which turned out to be quite a solid platformer. Wading through the droves of SpongeBob free-to-play mobile games, finally, a sequel to Battle for Bikini Bottom was announced, bringing us to our review.
So as you can see, I am a rather late adopter of SpongeBob Square Pants and felt no nostalgia for playing Battle for Bikini Bottom. I came away from that game happy with the platforming elements and characters, so when SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake was announced, I hoped for the same but more. Upon firing up the game and realising this is exactly what we have here, I smiled.
I smiled because I knew that my kids could play this game as they had played Battle for Bikini Bottom. In a time where younger kids are often excluded from bigger releases due to difficulty spikes, The Cosmic Shake is refreshing and welcomed. The humour and story are all family-friendly, complete with jokes that will appeal to old and young, just like the TV show.
The Cosmic Shake plays very much like Battle for Bikini Bottom, in that they are both solid collectathon platformers with colourful mascots. Many will say the era for these games died in the early 2000s but I disagree and there is something wholesome and welcoming with games like this; too often the genre does not have much to offer. This platforming arena is perfect for properties such as SpongeBob or any cartoon series to offer up some solid gaming for all ages.
Now the story and in SpongeBob’s world nothing is ever simple – his wacky antics can bring all sorts of mayhem to the usually peaceful Bikini Bottom. In The Cosmic Shake, SpongeBob and Patrick head to Glove World for a day of fun. Here we get the tutorial as each move of the game will be revealed slowly to the player, remaining locked till the tutorial teaches how to use them.
This is a positive for younger players as it reinforces exactly how to use certain moves and in which situations to use them. For veteran or older players, it can become quite frustrating being taught the spin move for the third time in five minutes when fighting enemies. The same can apply to being told how to jump, again perfect for the younger player.
Back at Glove World and SpongeBob has decided to use some magic bubbles from Madame Kassandra. This proves to be a huge mistake as it destroys Bikini Bottom and scatters SpongeBob’s friends across the multiverse. It is up to you, as SpongeBob, to fix the town and rescue his friends from whichever reality they have ended up in. Oh, and for some reason, Patrick got turned into a balloon, following you around.
This gives the premise for the game, as you action side quests in and around the broken Bikini Bottom as well as travelling to these new themed worlds. Within the new worlds, which can range from Wild West to Movie Studio and even Pirates, you need to work your way through the tasks given to rescue SpongeBob’s friends, restoring a section of Bikini Bottom. Having this variety of levels to play through is nice and refreshing, while tapping into the current multiverse-mania seen across pop culture.
Most of the time these tasks and missions within the levels are not genre-defining, as nothing ever crops up to break or redefine the 3D platformer mould – collect three of this thing or press this over here. This isn’t a bad thing as The Cosmic Shake never tries to be something it isn’t, instead, players are treated to a solid sequel to one of the most solid remasters of all time. All of SpongeBob’s voice cast is here too (from what I could tell) and it gives the game a level of authenticity that is much appreciated. The closest comparison to how the game plays these days would be Crash Bandicoot 4; the physics feel very similar to that marsupial based title.
There are unlockable costumes from across the many many seasons of the TV show that long time fans will appreciate. Also, with this being a collectathon, there are more than enough secrets to be found off the beaten path for those who aspire to 100%. For me, I found a wholesome, humorous platformer that very much treated its licensed property with proper respect. This genuinely feels like an extension of the SpongeBob universe and the other universes keep gameplay fresh for each level.
However, it would be tricky to recommend The Cosmic Shake to those that aren’t fans of SpongeBob, unless they have young kids. To explain – this is the perfect game for younger gamers that want to play a solid game, in and amongst those which are throwaway and done with no care. The Cosmic Shake is the opposite, but if you aren’t a fan of SpongeBob already, this will not change your mind.
For those who like the franchise, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is an absolute gem, delivering for gamers of any skill even if it does feel a tad easy to play. It’s highly recommended for those looking for a well-worked platforming adventure, or younger gamers. I for one would welcome a sequel with even more of the same, ideally with an absolutely huge Bikini Bottom to explore and even more characters to play as.
Until then, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is peak SpongeBob and a good time all round!
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is on the Xbox Store