We infrequently have high expectations of cartoon licenses, but with SpongeBob we’re always a little more optimistic. Not much, but we harbour the hope of at least being made to chuckle. And we’re always disappointed.
It seems like an attempt has been made to capture the spirit of the show, as the game has a vaguely episodic structure rather than a sprawling storyline. You go racing with SpongeBob, fighting crime with a superhero Patrick, destroying the world with Plankton. It’s still not funny though, and there seem to be even fewer speech samples than usual.
So there’s a mix of game styles, but they’re all incredibly straight-forward. The racing is simple to the point that it feels like cheating to hold the pad and look at the TV.
A hefty proportion of the game is predictable 3D action-adventuring, which is a case of doing what you’re told. There are a few on-rails sections – sky-diving, rocket-riding – which are trickier, but that’s negated by it taking much more to kill you. So you just carry on, barely paying attention.
Even destroying Bikini Bottom as a gigantic Plankton fails to entertain in any significant manner, such are the sluggish controls and not-very-exciting powers at your disposal.
But to the game’s credit, there’s very little actually wrong with it. The camera behaves, and the graphics are decent, even if some of the techniques experimented with work better than others – the comic book world of Patrick’s imagination is very smart, but the cel-shaded racing versions of the characters look rubbish.
Ultimately there’s nothing to evoke any sort of emotion: no laughter, no frustration, no elation, no mental stimulation; just going through the motions. You might as well buy some DVDs of the series and watch those. At least they’re funny.