SpongeBob is one of those timeless characters: despite the sponge with thick eyelashes it has "only" one twenty years on the back, the inspiration of his raids and the totally nonsense and surreal cut of the writing made him an absolutely iconic character in no time. The genius of the late Stephen Hillenburg, who disappeared at only 47 years of age, gave birth to a series of memorable characters, situations and jokes, able to transversely conquer young and old, thanks to a grotesque but soft and colorful character design and a brilliant staging full of small and large absolutely unmissable goodies.
SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom came out in its first guise in the now distant 2003, met with some success from critics and audiences, especially the younger one, thanks to one fresh style and a variety of uninspiring but still valid situations, supported by the hilarious style of supporting and non-supporting actors. Thirteen years later, the title is back on the shelves in one version "Rehydrated" a remake by Purple lamp studios and distributed by THQ Nordic, landing on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows. The playful formula remains almost unchanged but the product is enriched on the technical front thanks to the Unreal Engine 4 and with a dubbing entirely in Italian. SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy are ready to "dive" into this adventure, and you?
The bizarre adventures of SpongeBob
Plankton is back at work. Mr. Krab's (hardly credible) nemesis has created a series of fierce robots to take over the much coveted Krabby Patty recipe, the most appreciated hamburger in the deep sea of Bikini Bottom. Obviously this is yet another fallacious plan ready to come back to him, result? Bikini Bottom is now invaded by bloody sentient robots without any control and goal, if not to sow chaos and destruction. This little preamble serves as a mere expedient to start the story and it is the task of SpongeBob and friends to stop the robotic apocalypse erroneously triggered by the cruel (?) Marine microbe.
In the various explorable macro-areas you come across all the characters in the series, from Squiddi to Mrs. Puff, passing through Larry and the legendary Amico Bolla, ready to assign us a task or provide valuable advice on how to best face the challenges facing us and collect the coveted Golden Spatulas. In its simplicity, the story flows nicely, presenting from the beginning a series of jokes and colds that range from the crazy to the witty, ripping off some sincere and thunderous laughter in full SpongeBob style. In this sense, the title has not aged for a day and actually works very well, albeit with some uncertainty due not so much to the age of the product as to the rhythms of a different media that does not always manage to keep up with the original one. Ultimately, however, the absurd adventure of the protagonists still convinces today thanks to that crazy verve that distinguishes the brand, still in shape.
What remains almost unchanged in Battle for Bikini Bottom is the play structure. Basically you are in front of a 3D platformer of the past, with the possibility of using three different characters, each with its own peculiarities. SpongeBob is clearly the slightly more versatile one thanks to its various useful skills both for attacking and for activating specific buttons or advancing in some areas. The nice sponge in addition to having a basic attack suitable for short distance can perform a double jump, perform in an aerial slam (similar to Crash Bandicoot's belly) and project vertically to cause damage or reach otherwise inaccessible points, also in some points specific can turn into a sphere capable of doing ... well, not much if not going faster but it is still a skill not to be underestimated.
Patrick, for its part, it is a slower and less easy to use character, but its ability to lift and throw objects can be useful both in attack and in solving environmental puzzles, some of which are also particularly cared for thanks to some objects that can only be used by starfish, which can change the morphology of the pitch. To close the trio there is SandyIn addition to being able to count on his karateka skills, the Texan squirrel has a practical lasso with which to glide, hang and swing on some specific hooks and even "catch" enemies on the fly, defeating them in one fell swoop. It goes without saying that the game tries to make us use all the characters by creating special areas for each one, giving us occasionally the possibility to change them at our convenience but obviously in some places it is mandatory to use a certain character. Although all are well characterized, Sandy is the most fun to use while Patrick is, on the whole, the least successful.
The areas to be explored are quite vast, rich in objects to be collected and inclusive of puzzles and secondary areas. Level design definitely shows the sign of time, resulting functional but not very cohesive and coherent. There is no shortage of boss fights, swinging in inspiration but still fun and equipped with that particular flicker that permeates all the production linked to SpongeBob. Overall, the game is capable of entertaining for its entire duration (among the 7 and the 10 hours, about the time it takes to pronounce the full title), with a good variety of situations and different panoramas to explore, while leaving a somewhat stale aftertaste.
On the technical front, work was carried out commendable, re-modeling through U convinces and makes everything much cleaner and softer, managing to rehydrate an old product. Of course, the foundations remain the same and therefore some defects and a certain underlying structural poverty are noted, yet the glance is pleasant and the graphic design does enough justice to the animated series, especially on the models of the characters, main and otherwise. The animations also suffer the sign of time and are a bit low-cut and cumbersome, yet they do not hamstrung the experience, if anything reinforcing the "old school" flavor of the product, which in some ways is also pleasant. Mandatory honorable mention to the sound sector which offers a splendid dubbing also in Italian, thanks to the presence of theentire original cast of the series. Claudio Moneta, Pietro Ubaldi, Riccardo Rovatti are more partially than ever and exploit their skills to the fullest, significantly raising the value of production from a local point of view. Overall, the technical sector is in line with the rest of the production: in short, being not exceptional but still absolutely appreciable.
Out of the water
SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated, is a great example of how you can do a remaster edition at budget price (it sells for around € 30) without incurring a lazy or lax creation, keeping the original production value intact but adapting everything in an absolutely enjoyable way even today. Not all golden shimmers are the ones that shine_ the difficulty rate is not very high and in general the seventeen years since the original game are felt, but still manages to work and convince. Considering that the platformer genre has not been in vogue anymore (unfortunately) for many years, SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated is a small breath of fresh air (it had to be said) that will make happiness especially for the youngest players and all sponge lovers with square trousers.