When THQ Nordic announced plans to revive the original THQâ€™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 â€“ such as the axed Robo Squidward boss fight â€“ and adding a new horde-based online MP mode.
We were under the impression most of THQâ€™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 SpongeBobâ€™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 weâ€™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. â€œIt’s nicely crafted, fittingly visualized, and undeniably entertaining at times,â€ 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. â€œWhat 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.â€
Long-running publication GameInformer wasnâ€™t having any of it, dishing out a poor 43% and a few jibes in the process. â€œIf 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.â€
The now-defunct 1UP agreed, finding it merely mediocre. â€œIt’s all not as bad as it could have been, but nothing you can’t get from dozens of other games.â€
Then we have IGNâ€™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 THQâ€™s later Nickelodeon tie-ins, not to mention Activisionâ€™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 yearsâ€™ worth of cracks to paint over. Indeed, it’s a remaster that’ll require more work than most.