Nearing the end of SpongeBob’s journey under the sea, you’re tasked with guiding a ball through a giant Rube Goldberg machine in Mermaid Man’s Lair. Once you activate the machine you have to match the ball’s painstakingly slow speed while using SpongeBob’s arsenal of bubble abilities to make sure it doesn’t fall over. It’s a simple task in concept, but trying to execute it is some of the most unfun and Sisyphean gameplay in recent memory. In one section of the puzzle, all you need to do is stand on a button, and that button opens a gate for you to bowl a bubble into so you can progress. The only problem is that during SpongeBob’s wind-up animation for bowling, he walks forward. That means you fall off of the button, which closes the gate and prevents you from bowling the bubble where you intended, when you intended. These kinds of gameplay barricades are common, and force you to restart and face your demons again, and again, and again.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is rarely amusing or challenging, and completing it is an entirely dry experience. It looks nice, and brings back fond memories of a classic cartoon through iconic set pieces and tight voice acting, but its uncomfortable and outdated mechanics make you feel frustratingly trapped and are ultimately outclassed by countless other modern and classic platformers.
SpongeBob is a show built on rapid-fire humour and good pacing, but this game misses that mark. The game is a remake of the 2003 cult classic 3D collect-a-thon platformer of the same name. There were three versions of the original: a 2D platformer, a 3D platformer, and one full of minigames. This version took me around 20 hours to play through the main story and get a bunch of bonus collectibles, and from the movement to the jokes, the whole thing feels slow, with none of the comedic timing that makes the show so beloved.