SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a welcome return for a licensed platforming great. It's wonderfully faithful to the original release while ensuring it has the visual fidelity to stand alongside modern adventures in the genre. While I would have loved an expansion of its levels and a more robust multiplayer offering, this is a remake I believe is essential for platforming fans.
- A faithful remake of a classic licensed platformer
- The new visuals are colourful, gorgeous and varied
- Multiple characters offer plenty of gameplay variety
- Sense of humour draws from the greatest parts of the show
- Boss battles and a few other elements haven't aged too well
- The new multiplayer mode feels like a missed oppurtunity
- Review Price: £24.99
- Developer: Purple Lamp Studios
- Genre: Platformer
- Release Date: June 23, 2020
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
SpongeBob: SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom was one of a few licensed platformers that didn’t vanish into obscurity, lasting into the modern day thanks to a dedicated fanbase and surprisingly expansive speedrunning community. It’s a cult classic, holding a reputation esteemed enough to warrant a full remake with Rehydrated.
Purple Lamp Studios has recreated this iconic platformer with the utmost accuracy, maintaining its beloved characters and level design while ensuring its visuals look the part after almost two decades. The results are oftentimes astonishing, even if some aspects feel frighteningly archaic when up against more contemporary efforts.
A few small flaws aside, SpongeBob: SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom is a lovingly crafted remake which delivers ample nostalgia and hours of satisfying collectathon action. It bottles up the glory days of this franchise and mixes it with a platformer that stands the test of time remarkably.
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The premise of Rehydrated is simple. Plankton has constructed a machine which can produce robots to do his bidding, or more specifically, steal the Krabby Patty formula. Unfortunately for him, he switches the machine to “not obey” in the midst of an evil monologue. This results in Bikini Bottom being flooded with an array of evil machines intent on making the lives of its inhabitants a misery.
SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy are the unlikely trio tasked with saving the day, also acting as the three playable characters you control throughout Rehydrated. All of our heroes possess a range of unique abilities for solving puzzles and fighting enemies. There are no fancy upgrades or tiered unlock systems here – this is old school platforming to the finest degree.
Sandy can use a rope to swing through the air, reaching distant platforms and collectibles otherwise out of reach. Patrick can throw watermelons and other objects, a power which proves invaluable throughout some stages. SpongeBob is arguably the most vanilla, but also who you’ll spend the most time with throughout the brief campaign. You swap between them frequently enough that things always feel fresh, with levels often challenging you to think outside the box if you’re hoping to find the peskier secrets.
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Aside from stopping the evil robots, your core objective throughout Rehydrated is to collect Golden Spatulas. These unlock access to new levels and determine your overall progress through the campaign. You’ll access new stages such as Rock Bottom and Goo Lagoon through a central hub world containing many of the show’s landmarks. Mr. Krabs can be found loitering outside the Krusty Krab, while Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are struggling with a broken television in the Old Shoals Retirement Home.
Rehydrated draws from the best seasons of SpongeBob SquarePants, a time when the show was bitingly self-aware and referencial with its sense of humour. Much like the golden age of The Simpsons, every single character is on top form here, making all the dialogue a joy to witness. Unlocking new tiers of the hub world across a number of hours means you’re always being treated with new secrets and cool character interactions to uncover, all of which feel rewarding in their own right.
Much like other platforming greats, you’re encouraged to revisit older levels once new characters and powers are available, since some items are impossible to obtain during your first rodeo. Normally this would be a hassle for completionists, but Rehydrated is intuitive enough that hopping between levels is a breeze, with the menu allowing you to teleport directly to chosen objectives within a matter of seconds. There’s no need to replay huge levels for a single thing you missed, which is often a frustration in the genre.
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Rehydrated also introduces some new features which weren’t present in the original game. The major addition is a multiplayer horde mode where you and a friend can team up to take on endless waves of robots. It’s a fun little distraction, and being able to play as new characters such as Squidward, Gary and Robo Plankton is excellent. Sadly, combat is so simplistic that it really doesn’t add much depth to the overall package.
I will admit it’s engaging with an ally by your side in local multiplayer, but the lack of an option to play it solo or alongside an AI-controlled bot is as a frustrating omission. Even with the multiplayer being introduced, I believe returning fans will be primarily focused on diving into the solo campaign, and pulling it apart in search of new secrets and easter eggs before comparing it to the classic original. If something looks off, they’ll be sure to let us know about it.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a welcome return for a licensed platforming great. It’s wonderfully faithful to the original release while ensuring it has the visual fidelity to stand alongside modern adventures in the genre. While I would have loved an expansion of its levels and a more robust multiplayer offering, this is a remake I believe is essential for platforming fans.
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