The latest entry in the mainline series of SpongeBob videogames, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake takes players across the Bikini Bottom multiverse (since that seems to be trending lately). From an old-school western town to a Hollywood movie set, SpongeBob must travel to different themed dimensions to rescue his friends, after he accidentally shatters his reality into fragments using a magical bubble blower. The game is a straightforward platformer with a few minigames scattered throughout, and highlighted by numerous jokes, references, and familiar characters.
The Cosmic Shake is divided into seven areas, with Bikini Bottom serving as a central hub connecting them. Your goal is to visit each location to rescue a popular SpongeBob character like Sandy or Mr. Krabs and bring them back home, although they usually end up being the final world boss you need to defeat. Gameplay is composed of basic platforming, and you periodically unlock new special moves like a flying karate kick or grapple hook. After just a few hours with the game, I quickly realised it’s clearly designed for younger audiences, due to an extremely easy difficulty with no option to change it. An abundance of extra lives, double jump, glide mechanic, and a powerful ranged attack make it almost impossible to meet your demise. The Cosmic Shake also offers a wealth of collectables to search for, which are actually more difficult to grab than battling your opponents. The general lack of difficulty isn’t necessarily a negative, but some classic SpongeBob titles from the 2000s were surprisingly brutal.
Constant quips and dialogue from SpongeBob and Patrick keep the ball rolling, and fans of the cartoon will surely recognise countless references to the show’s most iconic moments. Most jokes land and a few fall flat, but it’s all harmless banter that adds to the experience. Unfortunately, there are a few voice lines that get repeated over and over to the point of annoyance. I’m not exactly sure how the development team didn’t get tired of these themselves, but be warned that SpongeBob says “A little dab’ll do ya” seemingly a hundred times during one playthrough. Unlike the first few seasons of the show that featured veiled adult humour, The Cosmic Shake scraps the dirty jokes, but you still get some signature SpongeBob goofs like gross close-ups.
The visuals are crisp and the best looking of any SpongeBob title to date. You can’t get too realistic with a cartoony game like this, but lighting and movement are fluid. It’s not on the level of a cutting-edge platformer like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, but I was definitely satisfied and didn’t notice any issues. Also, each world has a lot of nooks and crannies, encouraging exploration to find secrets and collect the game’s currency — balls of jelly. A flower-shaped objective marker keeps you on track, which was helpful on the occasion I found myself disoriented on larger maps.
I should mention, that there are quite a few minor bugs throughout The Cosmic Shake. That said, the developers are aware of the majority affecting the late development build I played for this review and are working to fix them. Some are definitely more noticeable than others. For example, you don’t have to press an interact key to talk to most NPCs, so when you walk up to them, whatever dialogue was already being said gets cut off. Also, certain fight sequences play out in a walled-off area, but enemies will temporarily drift outside those bounds and be untouchable. Since the game isn’t very complex to begin with, it was surprising to see these bugs and more make an appearance.
Overall, I felt like The Cosmic Shake is worth a playthrough for kids and SpongeBob fans. Those who love platformers have a better selection available out there, and if you don’t care for SpongeBob at all, then there’s really no point in checking this one out. It’s not particularly innovative, but is a strong representation of the iconic series in videogame form and picks up where Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated left off. The game’s soundtrack is very Bikini Bottom-esque with a few recognisable tunes and a ton of thematic music depending on the world you’re in. While you might notice voice actors are getting older, the main cast sounds instantly recognisable. I very much enjoyed the copious amounts of nostalgia (as I stopped watching SpongeBob over a decade ago) and bashing monsters with karate moves.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
While it doesn’t do anything new for the platforming genre, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake offers innocent adventures with iconic characters across Bikini Bottom.