Following the success of the Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, Purple Lamp, was subsequently tasked with making another SpongeBob game while sticking close to what made the remake work. That’s always a substantial risk, as the last game saw the studio simply recreating the game without designing much in the way of new stuff. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake, on the other hand, is a brand new game that uses much of what was implemented previously while building upon it. The result is an entertaining 3D platformer with colorful diverse worlds that doesn’t do much to wow, but is still more than fun enough to justify its existence.
Funnily enough, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake has a similar plot to the recently released Sonic Prime. SpongeBob buys a container of bubble soap at Glove World from a mermaid who’s clearly evil. She tells him this soap can be used to grant wishes, so he uses it to make said wishes for the other citizens of Bikini Bottom. But a calamity occurs as different buildings and citizens get pulled into alternate dimensions and SpongeBob and a balloonified Patrick venture in to save them.
Surprisingly, the writing is quite good. The characters all feel how they’re supposed to, and a lot of the humor lands. Of course, the show’s cast return to their roles and put just as much effort in as they do when recording episodes. The plot is really more of an excuse to have SpongeBob go on a series of fetch quests, but it gets the job done. It’s also pretty funny to hear SpongeBob and Patrick repeatedly illustrate how obvious it is they’re getting played; they’re just too dumb to realize it.
Go for the gold
Bikini Bottom operates as SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake‘s hub. From there you venture into seven themed worlds to help SpongeBob clean up his mess. These are all done in order and require players to go through a series of linear events to make it to the end and fight the level’s boss. These levels aren’t particularly long, generally lasting around 40 minutes to a little more than an hour. Unlike a lot of similar platformers, this one isn’t a collect-a-thon game, although it does have some aspects of them.
Each level has a certain number of gold coins to find, many of which can’t be collected until you acquire abilities later in the game and return to hit switches and the like. You’ll also receive side quests in the hub that task you with scouring the levels for items that, when returned, reward you with a gold coin. The only thing collecting coins does is unlock tiers of costumes. SpongeBob usually gets a new costume that ties in with a level’s theme, so it’s not like you’ll be hurting for the variety even if you decide not to bother with the gold coins.
To complete the game, you only need to go through each level once, but you’ll need to go into them all a second time if you want to complete all the side quests. Of course, that’s easier said than done. It’s easy to miss one of the five or so items you need for these and the game won’t give you any indication as to where they are. The effort doesn’t seem worth it for getting a single coin, especially when there are several of them that are easily discovered out in the open.
The level design is stands out with its variety. There are levels themed around pirates, Halloween, medieval times, and more, so the game never really feels repetitive in terms of visuals.
SpongeBob controls just as he did in the last game, albeit with some new moves. He still has his double jump and attacks by spinning and releasing bubbles. But he can also glide using a pizza box, slam into the ground, dodge, and use a Karate kick to fling himself at enemies. The controls are solid, but not quite great. Transitioning into the glide can be a bit finicky and the double jump isn’t quite as tight as it could have been, but the platforming is still plenty enjoyable despite this.
Unlike the last game, SpongeBob is the only playable character. Patrick is ever-present, following behind as a balloon and constantly bantering with his best friend. It’s always a joy to hear Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke go back and forth.
Most players shouldn’t find the game too punishing. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is mostly very easy, with unlimited lives and generous checkpoints. The platforming also doesn’t feel so simple that older players will be bored, however. There’s a lot of variety on display, from standard platforming, riding seahorses, moving down slides, a few minigames, and hooks to swing from. My biggest actual complaint is that SpongeBob is still too slow. However, his speed is somewhat mitigated by spamming the dodge, which unfortunately has a long enough cooldown that you can’t dodge again immediately after using it.
The combat is only so-so, however. The hit detection is a bit iffy and lacks impact, but there’s a wide range of enemy types that keeps the intermittent bouts interesting enough to not grow completely stale.
Shake it ’til you make it
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake succeeds in being another fun SpongeBob platformer. It can easily be completed in seven to eight hours, but that number will balloon if you want all the gold coins. The game won’t wow anyone who wasn’t impressed by the recent remake. But fans who want more time with the characters and the solid mechanics will be happy with what we have here. Plus, maintaining a high framerate is a cinch despite how often levels are quite large with no loading screens. Therefore, this is as good of a reason as any to go jumping around under the sea.