SpongeBob SquarePants is one of those very odd, Nickelodeon cartoons that is far more adult than it appears on the surface. Like Ren & Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life and even Rugrats, there’s a hell of a lot more going on in SpongeBob than meets the eye. That’s why, 21 years after the cartoon debuted and 17 years after this game was first released, a gaggle of gamers are desperate to get their hands on the remake.
I was a bit too old and a bit too “cool” for SpongeBob when it was at its zenith, but I’ve seen enough of it to get the appeal. However, because I wasn’t a fan, I never played the original SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom so I have no frame of reference.
That being said, like the Destroy All Humans! Remake, SpongeBob Rehydrated is an impressive update and reworking of an old-school platformer.
In my hands-on with SpongeBob Rehydrated, I was able to play through the Jellyfish Fields level, which is one of the earliest in the game. Here, SpongeBob needs to collect Royal Jelly from the King Jellyfish in order to heal Squidward’s jellyfish stings.
There are also tonnes of robots around, thanks to Plankton and his nefarious ways.
SpongeBob Rehydrated is a real flashback to platformers of old. Think back to the golden age of Banjo-Kazooie and then a little past that, to when every licensed game was a platformer of some sort or another. Thankfully, SpongeBob Rehydrated seems to have had a solid base to build off of as it actually feels quite good to play.
SpongeBob has a basic selection of abilities; jump, double jump, ground pound, attack and high jump.
Using these to get around Bikini Bottom feels great and is both intuitive and easy. It might be my historic knowledge of platformers, but playing SpongeBob Rehydrated was second nature, even though I’d never played the original.
As I made my way around the level I found underpants (health), Golden Spatulas and the weird, shiny objects SpongeBob and his pals use for money. Smacking jellyfish and robots gave me plenty of cash and made getting around the level a lot easier.
However, this is not now, nor was it then, a groundbreaking platforming game. It’s a decent one, but it doesn’t do anything to really break apart from the pack. That’s ok though. Sometimes you just want to sit, play a game without having to think too much and have a good time.
SpongeBob Rehydrated looks to be one of those games.
In the original game, you could play as Patrick and Sandy as well as SpongeBob, but this demo only featured SpongeBob. It’s hard to say how they’ll play, but given how good it feels to control SpongeBob, I’m certain the others will follow suit.
Aside from the gameplay, visually, SpongeBob Rehydrated is a real treat. It’s so bright and so colourful that at first, I thought the colour settings on the monitor I was using were busted. Such is the drab, brown nature of modern games.
Being based on a whacky, bright cartoon, it makes sense for SpongeBob Rehydrated to explode with colour and explode it does. It’s easily one of the brightest, most colourful games in recent memory. That’s the beauty with basing something on a cartoon and not the real-world. After playing, I went back and checked out the original and it looks drab by comparison.
I’m sure back in the day it was a colourful game, but now, it might as well be in black and white.
SpongeBob Rehydrated is definitely a game for those who loved the original or love the cartoon. General gamers probably won’t see it for what it is, but they’re not the intended audience. I can imagine fans of the original game lost their minds when this was announced and they’ll appreciate everything on offer here.
It’s an old school platformer, wrapped up in an incredible visual package with some tweaks and updates to the controls to make sure it plays well enough that today’s gamers won’t be turned off.
There’s no release date as yet, but it is scheduled to be released in 2020.
SpongeBob Rehydrated is coming to PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One.
The author travelled to Sydney as a guest of the publisher