What did critics say about SpongeBob: Battle for Bikini Bottom in 2003?

When THQ Nordic announced plans to revive the original THQ’s Nickelodeon tie-ins, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom was by far the most requested.

Making good on those demands, a remaster for PS4, Xbox One and Switch was announced earlier this week, implementing cut content – such as the axed Robo Squidward boss fight – and adding a new horde-based online MP mode.

We were under the impression most of THQ’s cartoon tie-ins were on the sloppy side – co-developed properties such as Tak and the Power of Juju notwithstanding – but it turns out Battle for Bikini Bottom is well regarded. Not an outright classic, but perhaps the best of SpongeBob’s adventures.

Due to launching over fifteen years ago, many reviews are no longer online. A fair few reviews listed on Metacritic also come from gaming magazines, and as such, were never available online to begin with. Quotes are available though, so we’re still able to discover out what critics had to say at the time.

The Official U.S PlayStation Magazine was left smitten by the yellow fellow, awarding the colourful platformer a resounding 9/10. This presumably put it on par with Ratchet & Clank and other 3D platforming contemporaries, which ultimately makes this review score somewhat questionable.

It gained an almost-as-impressive 8/10 from the Official Xbox Magazine. “It’s nicely crafted, fittingly visualized, and undeniably entertaining at times,” they said. It’s worth remembering that the original Xbox wasn’t best known for its selection of 3D platformers, which may have helped SpongeBob stand out on this platform.

It garnered a similar score (75%) from Play magazine too. “What really makes this one tick, though, is a level of creativity imbedded into each scenario that makes it impossible to put down, regardless of your maturity or lack thereof.”

Long-running publication GameInformer wasn’t having any of it, dishing out a poor 43% and a few jibes in the process. “If you’ve had neurosurgery more than twice, you may (and I stress the word) find a thimble’s worth of entertainment here. If not, you’ll get more kicks out of a sponge…just an ordinary pantless sponge.”

The now-defunct 1UP agreed, finding it merely mediocre. “It’s all not as bad as it could have been, but nothing you can’t get from dozens of other games.”

Then we have IGN’s review(s), both of which are still live. The GameCube and Xbox iterations were reviewed a month before the PS2 version, yet the reviews (and scores) are identical. Despite it gaining a miserable 2/10 for lasting appeal, with a lack of replay value to blame, it went on to receive a 7.3.

The majority of reviews were positive, it seems. It was certainly better received than most of THQ’s later Nickelodeon tie-ins, not to mention Activision’s far more recent SpongeBob HeroPants from 2015. The Austria-based Purple Lamp Studios still has their work cut out to bring Battle for Bikini Bottom up to a modern standard, however, with over fifteen years’ worth of cracks to paint over. Indeed, it’s a remaster that’ll require more work than most.

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