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Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom

Developer: Heavy Iron Studios Publisher: THQ
29 October 2003
Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - cover art
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3.73 / 5.0
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510 Ratings / 3 Reviews
#551 All-time
#23 for 2003
Plankton's plan to create a robot army goes completely wrong when the master control machine malfunctioned, causing the robots to go berserk and rampage all over Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob wakes up to find his house completely thrashed and must work together with the denizens of Bikini Bottom and find a way to stop the robot menace.
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Sponge Boy Me Bob/10
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CypressPunk 2022-03-18T03:25:15Z
2022-03-18T03:25:15Z
4.0
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Absolute Classic, full of soul
This is the game that got me into gaming. It certainly helps that I was a huge fan of the television program, but I don't think I could have gotten a better introduction to 3D interactive worlds than this. When I got my very first console, the Nintendo Gamecube, I didn't have many first-party games. I may not have grown up with Super Mario Sunshine [スーパーマリオサンシャイン] or The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker [ゼルダの伝説 風のタクト], but Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom and other quality licensed games of the era were more than sufficient for 7 year old me. Games like Cars, Taz: Wanted and this game's sequel, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie were all standout licensed games that I might have never heard of if my parents got me Super Smash Bros. Melee [大乱闘スマッシュブラザーズDX] instead.

BFBB is a fantastic licensed game and a great game overall. The presentation is very charming should be familiar to fans of the first three seasons of the show - the soul of the original series shines through in every line of dialogue, the crazy level concepts, and the wacky music. Most of the show's cast is here (Save for Eugene Krabs and Mermaid-Man, quite unfortunate but they're serviceable) and they deliver great performances. Spongebob, Patrick and Sandy all have hilarious voice lines that are etched into my brain (HAM-MER, I GET IT!), and they often make references to the show's continuity - real good fanservice.
The locations are inspired from the show, with some of the most iconic locations being present - Jellyfish Fields, Spongebob's neighborhood, the Krusty Krab, Sandy's Tree Dome, even the one-off Rock Bottom is here and it's one of the best levels. The level designers did a great job at capturing the show's atmosphere while crafting fun 3D environments chock-full of collectibles, robots and side-objectives. They managed to squeeze easy to miss references in every corner of the world, my favourite of these being the vending machine in Rock Bottom that plays out the same iconic gag from the episode.
The music, just like the show, is iconic and varied. There's obviously a large Hawaiian music influence throughout (Jellyfish Fields, Bikini Bottom), but the soundtrack goes into Surf Rock (Goo Lagoon), Breakbeat/Acid House (Spongebob's Dream), Trip Hop (Industrial Park, Chum Bucket Lab), even Dark Ambient (Rock Bottom) territory on a whim. The standout tracks for me:
Jellyfish Fields, Rock Bottom, Mermalair (Straight up just the 1966 Batman theme), Spongebob's Dream.

The game's story is nothing special but it plays out like a classic episode in the fantastic cutscenes, Plankton creates an army of robots to steal the Krabby Patty Secret Formula but it goes haywire. You must collect 75 Golden Spatulas from various locations and defeat 3 giant robot Doppelgangers, among other boss fights to defeat him. The robotic influence over Bikini Bottom is clearly seen, the levels have been trashed by them and they're here to stay.
Speaking of the robots, this game's enemy variety is truly something else - with almost every level introducing a new type of robot in the mix. Their designs are iconic and they're most importantly fun to destroy and get destroyed by. The aforementioned HAM-MER - an aggressive wheeling bot wielding a giant slab of meat - is great fun and can be defeated in many ways by the whole cast, so is G-LOVE - a spinning wheel with hands that you can slam from the top or wrangle with Sandy's lasso, Monsoon floats up high wearing a parasol on his head and generates storm clouds, TAR-TAR fires Tartar sauce from a gun in three round bursts. They are really great foes and the game would greatly suffer without such an iconic cast of baddies (This game's sequel definitely suffered from this problem).

The three playable characters are unique and all have their strengths and weaknesses. They control great and have a variety of fun moves and properties that make them perfectly suited for certain situations. Spongebob is the jack of all trades and serves as the main character, with Patrick and Sandy being accessible via specifically placed Bus stops inside of levels. Unfortunately, not all characters are available everywhere, nor can you play as Patrick and Sandy in the hub world - would have been a great addition to the Remake... but Spongebob is still great fun to play regardless.
Spongebob's moveset comprises of a spinning attack, a ground pound, an overhead bash, and eventually a bowling attack and a cruise missile - all of which being Bubble wand techniques taught by the fan-favourite Bubble Buddy. Patrick can stun enemies with his ground slam and attack with his belly, and he can also make use of throwable fruit to press buttons or freeze water to access secrets. Sandy has a lasso which can be used to hover for a short while and latch onto distant objects and enemies. You can switch between Spongebob-Patrick or Spongebob-Sandy in most levels and it makes for some great gameplay variety, where the secondary characters fill in what Spongebob lacks in strength and jump distance.
Except you can beat the game with Spongebob only if you know what you're doing, thanks to discoveries made in this game's active Speedrunning scene. Cruise boosting is debatably an unintended exploit that is great fun to play around with, achieved by inputting frame-perfect inputs twice in a row for the Bubble Bowl and Cruise Bubble - resulting in a large boost to Spongebob's speed on ground and in the air. Obscure, arguably unintentional mechanics like Cruise Boosting and Wavedashing are a design decision I adore and more games should have game-breaking techniques that reward input skill like this (Maybe not in competitive games but hey that's another story).

In fine, Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom is a really fun 3D platformer with lots of personality. The game bleeds the same blood as the original 3 Seasons of the show, the humor is of the same tone and the characters aren't completely flanderized and childish like in later seasons. The environments are diverse, the enemies are fun and there is a large variety of challenges and optional tasks to achieve for completionists. Many staples of 3D collect-a-thons are presents here, with the Golden Spatulas being Shines/Stars, Socks being Blue Coins and Shiny objects being Coins. If you liked Super Mario 64 [スーパーマリオ64], Psychonauts, or Banjo-Kazooie, this is a very easy sell - even if you don't like the show there's a lot to love here in how tight the whole experience is.

I'm obviously biased, this game is very special to me and I've loved it since I first laid eyes on it as a wee lad, and when I subsequently got it on my first console, the Nintendo Gamecube. 4.5/5 this game rules
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greeze 2021-09-08T19:49:17Z
2021-09-08T19:49:17Z
4.5
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Battle for Bikini Bottom is one of the most shockingly competent video games of the 6th console generation, with most proclaiming it a gem in a sea of licensed shovelware. I'm not here to completely disagree, because I think it's got a lot going for it, but I think people overlook many problems with this game precisely because of that "shock."

Let's get the obvious thing out of the way - it's a game about SpongeBob, the character probably most emblematic of the American millenial generation. The show is great, appealed to a wide audience, and was immediately recognizable due to its unique setting and memorable cast of characters. I think most fans of any given non-games character would agree that the ideal video game for them would be one that reflects what they're all about. Spider-Man is obviously going to be swinging around and kicking ass. Riddick should be sneaking around and infiltrating high-tech facilities. SpongeBob... what exactly does he do? He works, hangs out with his buddies, has the occasional manic episode, and sometimes gets into some predicament he's got to sort out, usually diplomatically. That doesn't easily translate to a video game, making basically any type of game an imperfect fit, but the choice of 3D platformer as the genre is a decent one for the Bob because of the inherent focus on the world around you. While it still allows the player to explore Bikini Bottom as SpongeBob, he isn't exactly known for nailing tricky jumps or for fighting robots, the two major gameplay areas here. Right off of the bat, there's a small lack of synergy that makes it feel more like the genre prescription was arbitrary, or for the sake of something non-artistic like sales. Oh well.

So what does it accomplish in its reasonable mission? I think much more than most people would have expected. The collect-a-thon nature of the title allows for a large number of scenarios that occur in or are inspired by events in the show. This is compounded by the ability to switch characters to Patrick or Sandy for certain level segments, allowing for greater challenge variety without breaking character "realism" by making them do something they likely wouldn't have if written by Hillenburg. The humor is exceptionally close to the show's, with about the same hit rate on verbal jokes - and a majority of the original voice cast reprise their roles. The soundtrack is very reminiscent of the show, making effective use of the same slide guitar, woodblock, ukelele, tambourine combination the show was famous for, with the occasional electronic and rock-n-roll track when appropriate. The stages are all based on memorable locations from the show and faithfully represented, making them fun to traverse. If you get stuck on a given challenge, the game bookmarks the spot in the start menu, allowing you to move on to something else and fast travel back to it at any time. The bosses are extremely intuitively designed and test your full arsenal of moves that you've earned up until that point. Finally, the difficulty is not nearly as low as other for-kids games of the era, meaning the game holds the same all-ages appeal that its franchise does. That's quite the list for a budget title.

Unfortunately, it's not all gold and glitter, even by 6th gen standards. The art direction, while distinct in its representation of the show, really needed some cel-shading to make the 3D models look less dull and misshapen. The audio mixing was consistently horrible, with a flood of loud noises when you enter an arbitrary radius of a waterfall or cannon. While most characters are voiced by their original actors, those that aren't are immediately noticeable, Mr. Krabs and Mermaid Man being distracting drops in quality. The level design in the later stages becomes very repetitive with few notable landmarks and re-pasted assets and textures (Kelp Forest, the Mermalair, and Rock Bottom especially). A few levels rely very heavily on Patrick's fruit-throwing ability, which is unwieldy and feels unreliable on repeated attempts. Most of the stages are completed in a straight line, putting a damper on any significant feeling of exploration or environmental mastery. 10 of the spatulas in the game require very blatant money grinding to pay off Mr. Krabs, something I very much doubt any sane person would ever want to do. The very final boss with Robo-Plankton is a bit of a letdown after a great fight with Robo-SpongeBob, and deflates an otherwise good ending sequence. That's a decent-sized list as well.

I understand that a lot of the appeal with this title (and other 3D action-adventure and platformer games) is the ability to become the character, and just kind of passively experience the environment behind the mask. Super Mario Sunshine and Odyssey capitalize on this completely, with dozens of little toys in every level for FLUDD and Cappy to just mess around with, respectively. While I certainly understand kids who want to pretend to be SpongeBob and hang out in his house or "walk to work" or act out some other imagined narrative, mechanically you're not actually doing anything. SpongeBob has no way of interacting with anything without talking in canned text boxes or smacking it. Because of the mechanical dissonance, I have to say this sort of sandbox immersion is personally lost on me for this title. I don't feel rewarded for being SpongeBob, I feel rewarded for jumping around on platforms and finding rewards, so that's what I do. The franchise has basically nothing to do with that.

I think, overall, BfBB needed a little more time in the oven to iron out some fixable flaws and integrate its systems better with its franchise. However, this is probably an unreasonable request given its release as a budget title, and was likely never possible to begin with. For what it is, and the resources it was given to spur its growth, Heavy Iron did just about as well as they possibly could have - but that in and of itself doesn't make it a classic.
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the_lockpick 2018-07-31T03:56:44Z
2018-07-31T03:56:44Z
3.0
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Nostalgia's a real bitch. No, it's not malevolent or nasty. In fact, it's quite pleasant. It's a lot like smoking weed. It's fine to do it once in a while and it'll make you feel flighty and warm, but smoke too much and it becomes apparent that you're distracting yourself from your present life obstacles.

In a similar fashion to weed, nostalgia also blinds critical thinking and judgment. This is rather apparent when analyzing and critiquing pieces of art and entertainment across all mediums. For one, I can't fathom why Super Mario 64 is beloved and renowned in the present decade after it has aged like moldy cheese. It's not a bad game by any means, but why is it held to the same regard as Super Mario Galaxy? It's obviously a vast improvement on the platforming standards that 64 put in place. I can't figure that it's anything else but nostalgia painting a view for some people. Perhaps I just can't it see because the game came out the year I was born, and I played it when I was a teenager after already playing Galaxy and Sunshine.

What is my point? Well, here we have Spongebob: Battle for Bikini Bottom. Spongebob was hot shit when I was a kid, and I was on that hype train. It was my favorite cartoon. This came out the same year I got my first video game console, and I had to get this game. I loved every minute of it. I loved that you could play Spongebob, Patrick, and Sandy and that they all had their own unique movesets. I loved exploring through areas from the cartoon and I loved that all the familiar voice actors were all there to reprise their roles (except for Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs).

In retrospect, this game has plenty of flaws. It's incredibly easy for one which I suppose could be understood because it's a game meant for kids, but it's vastly less challenging than the kid-oriented 3D platformers it's copying off of. Oh yeah, this game is also highly derivative of several popular platformers that came before it like Jak and Daxter and Banjo Kazooie. I've since played through both games and they execute what BfBB is trying to do much more efficiently.

Then why do I find myself playing through BfBB once every other year?

Goddammit. I guess I'm a fucking hypocrite. I guess everyone has their inner eight-year-old, and while everyone else's is screaming at them to rekindle the magic of Super Mario 64, mine is trying to rekindle its famous yellow licensed afterbirth.

Perhaps that's a little harsh. There's plenty of positive aspects to this game. It plays very smoothly and like the cartoon it's based on, there's a great detail to put sound in everything from the way the characters walk to the music. I think it's impressive that every stage has its own theme and none of them really grate on you as you play it. It's charming and fun just like the cartoon and I can't let my adult cynicism take that away from it.

However, I have to hold the games that I play to objective standards that can't stem from my sensibilities when I was eight. I'd like to think that as an adult I am capable of this. Either that or I'm just a loser who takes himself too seriously. It is a Spongebob game from 2003 after all.
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Erockthestrange 2017-07-21T20:09:59Z
2017-07-21T20:09:59Z
9.5
8
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It's all about execution
One of the basic rule of buying games is to never trust licensed games. Any video game made as an attempt to cash in TV shows or movies often falls in the category of shovelware, which is a sad fact for the majority of licensed games. Luckily, a few licensed games do exist to prove that the notion is wrong. SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom is one of the few licensed titles that manage to be one of the most entertaining gaming experiences of the early 2000s.

Plankton, the antagonist of the SpongeBob Squarepants series, attempts to build a robot-duplicating machine called the Duplicatotron 3000 to take over Bikini Bottom and the coveted Krabby Patty secret formula from his rival Mr. Krabs. However, as usual, his plan goes awry in a spectacular fashion. The D3000 malfunctions and causes the robots to run amok, destroying everything in their path. SpongeBob wakes up to find the entire city and his house thrashed by the rogue machines, and attempts to undo Plankton's mess in an adventure that takes him to various locales in the series.

Conceptually, there is nothing new about Battle for Bikini Bottom. It's a licensed game made in the vein of platformer classics like Super Mario 64 [スーパーマリオ64]and Banjo-Kazooie. But instead of trying to cash in the 3D platformer craze, Battle for Bikini Bottom took the formula, adapted it to the zany world of SpongeBob and conveyed a simple but absolutely addicting gameplay system. This is where the title really shines: excellence in simplicity.

You get to play the choice between three characters, SpongeBob Squarepants, Patrick Star and Sandy Cheeks. You will need to switch between characters to pass through certain areas, which may be blocked by obstacles requiring the unique abilities of the three characters to overcome. SpongeBob is the jack of all trades, capable of performing ranged attacks, slamming and balanced melee combat. Patrick is the powerhouse, able to stun enemies and throw objects (and operate the special Patrick Teeter-Totter to propel himself to certain areas) but suffers from poor mobility and limited attack range. Sandy is capable of gliding and lassoing enemies from a distance, giving her aerial mobility. Combat is very simple: most enemies die in one hit, but some robots may require special abilities to effectively destroy.

The main objective of the game is to collect Golden Spatulas, Shiny Objects and Socks. Golden Spatulas are required to unlock new areas, Shiny Objects can be used to pay Mr. Krabs for quick Golden Spatulas and also open new areas within levels, while Socks can be returned to Patrick in the main hub (Bikini Bottom) and exchanged for Golden Spatulas. After collecting enough Spatulas, the player can advance to the boss stage of one area before moving to the next. Collecting all Spatulas and enough Shiny Objects will unlock special features in the end of the game. In many ways SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom can be summed up as a collect-a-thon with some combat thrown in. Hardly original after the breakthroughs in the previous console generation. Luckily, Heavy Iron did a great job designing a game world faithful to the source material that defies the disturbingly low standards of a licensed game. The writing in the game is good enough to rival some of the best SpongeBob Squarepants episodes from the earlier seasons. The only gripe is that some characters (such as Mr. Krabs and Mermaid Man) aren't voiced by their original VAs.

In conclusion, the beauty of this game is the perfect execution of its concept in incorporating a burgeoning animated series to classic platformer mechanics, resulting in one of the most fun and no-nonsense gaming experiences. SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom rightfully earned its place as the beloved platformer favorite of the sixth video game generation in an era full of low-quality cash grabs.
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Lazlo77 2016-04-14T10:24:46Z
2016-04-14T10:24:46Z
5.0
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All_Under_Heaven Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-27T15:45:03Z
2022-11-27T15:45:03Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Decoded Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-27T06:51:10Z
PS2 • XNA
2022-11-27T06:51:10Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DirectorBlack Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-25T20:28:49Z
2022-11-25T20:28:49Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
aquanot2 Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-23T22:41:20Z
2022-11-23T22:41:20Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
MeaLynk Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-22T04:53:48Z
2022-11-22T04:53:48Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Vantus Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-21T08:40:09Z
2022-11-21T08:40:09Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
accopulocrat Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-20T11:02:57Z
2022-11-20T11:02:57Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Platformer
Eztak Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-14T17:00:28Z
PS2 • XNA
2022-11-14T17:00:28Z
8.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LazySarah Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-09T05:03:33Z
2022-11-09T05:03:33Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Kantie Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-08T07:14:49Z
2022-11-08T07:14:49Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Dazawassa Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-07T14:22:47Z
Xbox • XNA
2022-11-07T14:22:47Z
5.0
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Dazawassa Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2022-11-07T14:22:20Z
PS2 • XNA
2022-11-07T14:22:20Z
4.5
5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: E
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x DVD

Comments

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  • Previous comments (8) Loading...
  • Fowlawneeshafow 2019-08-26 12:18:17.023193+00
    This is like the Castle of Illusion of 3D platformers.
    reply
    • the_lockpick 2019-10-21 14:08:28.446484+00
      very solid analogy, for better and worse
    • warioman96 2020-06-25 10:46:21.265479+00
      I can sign off on that
    • slib 2020-09-06 20:39:12.999474+00
      do not insult Castle of Illusion in this manner
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  • proxycodone 2021-05-10 22:23:37.16109+00
    in the past decade this game received an overwhelming growth in popularity and an established speedrunning community, which the competition and the showcase of technical play and tricks/glitches that combat the gripes most would have with the game (monotonous grinding, lack of freedom) brought this to its fullest potential. one of my top favorites.
    reply
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  • HankFan 2021-05-18 17:51:10.150191+00
    i think this was always popular. me and all my friends had this, i remember talking to people about it in primary school. millennials / gen z just got nostalgic for it fairly recently me thinks. the speedrunning community for this game is unexpected but fascinating indeed
    reply
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  • SigFury 2021-07-01 06:52:18.088666+00
    This is like Animals by Pink Floyd. Everyone who's aware of it calls it underrated which in turn makes it overrated
    reply
    • kaibo 2022-07-27 14:43:10.882578+00
      literally what do you mean by that
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  • cartert540 2021-10-10 03:26:14.824986+00
    this is purely nostalgia bias speaking but this is seriously one of the best games ever made. I've come back to it multiple times and it has without fail been so much fun.
    reply
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  • cryotato 2022-03-03 19:52:02.798972+00
    played this at after school club....... i remember some really specific levels - def gonna revisit !!

    its on the same memory slot in my brain as simpsons hit and run
    reply
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  • ResetRPG 2022-05-22 22:29:57.413853+00
    Hugely nostalgic for this game. That alone makes this one of my fav 3D platformers.
    reply
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  • Miry 2022-11-08 16:11:45.249292+00
    has had a resurgence in popularity - and rightly so. this was one of the best platforming games for the ps2.
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