Game review: SpongeBob SquarePants The Cosmic Shake

Review by John Perry

If you’re looking for a brand-new platforming adventure that comes complete with an intoxicating hit of nostalgia, look no further than The Cosmic Shake.

This single-player video game from publishers THQ Nordic encompasses classic platform gameplay, goofy but creative combat, feelgood comedy and SpongeBob’s signature dry wit in one amazingly animated package to delight fans young and old.

The story is simple, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. After all the key demographic for Cosmic Shake is mostly children, fans of the series and potential parents playing the game with their sprogs. It opens with SpongeBob causing a ruckus in Bikini Bottom after a good idea, in theory, ends up releasing an evil jelly cataclysm from King Neptune himself. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would write.

This transports all the characters you know and love – Mr Krabs, Patrick, Sandy, Plankton and more – into bizarre alternative dimensions that you’re tasked with exploring, before rescuing them to save the day. There are seven of these distinct worlds you’ll encounter on your spongetastic travels, ranging from a western-like land, a movie set, a sea of pirates and more. Let’s not spoil all the surprises, as some of them are a joy to experience for the first time.

All the original voice actors return to lend their nuance comedic and childish whimsy to the narrative. And visually, the game is striking, to say the least, with great artistic styling to rival – if not better – most modern platformers available on the market. The cutscenes stand out in particular, and they would grace an actual SpongeBob movie.

Gameplay is simplistic but rewarding, with new abilities being unlocked world-to-world, so there’s always something to work towards with a fresh feel to each stage. You can even return to those worlds to uncover things you did not have access to before, which is a nice touch. Purple Lamp Studios, the developers have clearly been inspired by the likes of Crash Bandicoot, Astro Bot and other great platformers. Keeping the moment-to-moment gameplay enjoyable is the aim, and they hit the target:  you never know quite what is coming next. I didn’t expect to be using an empty pizza box to glide around, for example, nor did I anticipate a fish hook could prove quite so handy. It has an in-universe use for everything.

During your world-hopping adventures, you will have more than 30 distinct, memorable and hilarious costumes to kit out SpongeBob himself. The majority of them are unlocked via gameplay but some were downloadable content for an additional price or with the “BFF Collector’s Edition” that Is available to pre-order now. Hardcore fans with extra cash to splash … knock yourselves out.

The music is also worth a mention here as it takes you back to watching the cartoon all those years ago, with around 100 songs from the original series to enjoy.

Every aspect has been carefully crafted by designers who love everything that makes SpongeBob, SpongeBob. Even the loading screens use the “A Few Hours Later” transitions.

It’s just a pure-hearted, wholesome, comedic piece of fun for all the family to enjoy. It has strong themes of positivity, learning from mistakes and when to trust strangers. That will teach its younger audience an important lesson. And for the rest of us, there are the twists and broken fourth walls to relish.

I couldn’t fault it. It’s well worth your time and money.

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake lands on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch tomorrow (January 31) for the retail price of around £30, depending on the edition you buy.

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