Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake Review
Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake is the spiritual sequel to Spongebob Squarepants: The Battle for Bikini Bottom, which was recently remade in 2020. It is an action platformer set in the Spongebob Squarepants universe, developed by Purple Lamp and published by THQ Nordic.
After being given access to wish-granting Mermaid Tears, Spongebob and his best friend Patrick accidentally unlock different worlds where their friends and neighbors have become different versions of themselves. Now they must traverse these worlds, fix their mistakes, and bring Bikini Bottom back to their semblance of normal.
That’s some multiverse-type schtick if I’ve ever heard of one!
Traversing the Cosmic Shake
From the first few hours alone, it is easy to notice that Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake is a pretty competent platformer as you make your way through Bikini Bottom. The objectives are quite simplistic, to the point where your expectations for a family-friendly licensed game would play out as expected. You have your basic traversal methods, with the unexpected addition of the pizza glider for gliding, and your basic attack moves.
As you move through the Cosmic Shake, opening up different worlds to explore, that’s when you start to unlock special moves for Spongebob. The karate kick allows you to use enemy units as an extra platforming tool to access areas; the fish hook allows you to check out higher places not previously accessible; and the Reef Blower gives you additional combat options to take on larger enemies.
For at least a few worlds, The Cosmic Shake is as basic as it can be and will definitely cater to Spongebob fans, giving them access to beloved characters like Squidward and Mr. Krabs, who serve as level bosses in many of these worlds. As you complete levels, many of these characters eventually return to Bikini Bottom, recreating the local world dynamics that fans have come to know and love.
Aesthetics aside, each world in the Cosmic Shake has its own flavor and gimmick that make them stand out from other worlds, like the Halloween World introducing a unique stealth mechanic and the Pirate World giving players more water-based platforming challenges. What’s neat is that some of the unique elements from each world blend into future areas, allowing for a more diverse experience.
These gimmicks come with some design inconsistencies, such as the aforementioned stealth mechanic becoming obsolete in the later part of the level due to a workaround that speeds up the process. Some enemy variants also clearly communicate how they can be beaten, while others don’t. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but it does make for some inconsistent difficulty curves for its proposed target audience.
The difficulty level of Cosmic Shake fluctuates from laughably easy to ridiculously tough, with certain areas that can give Returnal a run for its money. While I find it hilarious that Squidward is a roguelite bullet hell boss, I think this could be frustrating for some of the younger players wanting to get into the game. Dying takes you back to the nearest checkpoint, but some of them are too far apart, making it a chore.
Battle for Bikini Bottom Part Two
Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake really benefits Spongebob fans especially when it comes to replayability and expanding the overall content. A normal playthrough can last about 4-5 hours, and the average difficulty level is somewhat reminiscent of Destroy All Humans 2‘s easy mode.
There are side quests to pursue and many minigames to experience, most of which involve a lot of button-mashing, simple puzzles, and visual prompts. While this may extend your experience for a good couple of hours more, if you really want to get the most out of your game, the real challenge is collecting all the costumes in all the worlds.
Throughout the game, you collect Jellywishes that allow you to purchase extra costumes in the Costume Shop. They’re mostly for aesthetics and do nothing to improve the gameplay. To unlock the higher tiers, which are gated behind collecting coins, the difficulty spikes quite a bit because many of these coins are hidden behind secret areas or tough-to-traverse sequences
The game’s story is serviceable, and the dialogue is quite entertaining. As every character is voiced by their original voice actors, it’s definitely a massive treat for fans of the cartoon to experience. While the game doesn’t do anything to really stand out, it is a safe and serviceable entry for our favorite Sponge.
What We Liked:
- Competent platforming and combat for a family-friendly game.
- The extras give a lot of value, especially the hidden costumes for further replayability.
- All the original voices and an entertaining story to tantalize longtime Spongebob fans.
What We Didn’t Like:
- Some areas may prove to be too difficult for younger audiences.
- Inconsistent level design can be a point of frustration.
- Checkpoints can sometimes be too far apart.
- Does nothing new and plays it very safe.
Verdict: Wait For It…
Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake is a serviceable platformer that succeeds in offering a simple yet fun time for its target audience. While it is a surprisingly entertaining game, the fluctuating difficulty spikes can give experienced gamers something to enjoy but can be a bit frustrating for others, especially the children who are fans of the show.
The game does have enough extras and content to keep players busy, especially with the challenge of collecting every costume. Overall, if you’re looking for a relaxing and relatively stress-free affair with the cast of the show, Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake could be the game you’re looking for.
*Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by a publisher.