As a child, I spent an insane amount of time watching Nickelodeon. From Danny Phantom to the Angry Beavers, each show brought me plenty of joy, with SpongeBob SquarePants being my favourite of them all, to the point where I still dabble in the show at times today.
Despite my reverence for SpongeBob, I’ve never played any of the games featuring him. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is my first foray into the world of SpongeBob video games, and I’m happy to say that despite some issues, it’s a good time.
The story begins with SpongeBob and his best bud Patrick visiting their favourite garment themed amusement park, Glove World. Upon arrival, the duo come across a shop run by a mermaid known as Madame Kassandra, where SpongeBob finds a mysterious glowing vial of what she refers to as magic bubble soap.
A few hours after purchasing the soap and making plenty of wishes, things quickly go awry, as it’s revealed that they’ve purchased stolen mermaid tears that belong to King Netpune, which when used by mortals can have dangerous side effects.
Bikini Bottom is subsequently thrown into chaos as a result of SpongeBob’s incessant wishing, which has seen landmarks and citizens spread across various worlds, and the parts that remain are covered in cosmic jelly as a result of the realities disruption.
In order to find his friends and return the Bikini Bottom to its rightful state, SpongeBob and Patrick, who has been turned into a balloon because of a poorly worded wish, set out to visit the distant worlds. To succeed however, they must work alongside Kassandra, who promises to assist them so long as they collect the aforementioned cosmic jelly. Even though she sold them a sketchy bottle of bubbles and clearly has devious intentions, the lovably clueless pair do exactly as they’re told.
It’s a simple story that provides reasoning for SpongeBob’s adventure, and while there isn’t a great deal of it, it’s a lot of fun to watch because of how it’s basically just an episode of the SpongeBob SquarePants show. Having all the original voice cast present is a huge win, and they’re portrayed just as well as they are in the series.
Having Patrick around in his adorable balloon form is a great way to have him constantly there to bounce off of SpongeBob in cutscenes, and the chemistry between the two loveable goofballs is just as strong as it has always been.
There were many moments where I let out a little chuckle listening to the wacky things that Patrick would say, and as the SpongeBob series has always been, its high quality comedy comprised of wackiness and gruesome close-ups somehow expertly succeeds at being entertaining to both children and adults alike. There are also plenty of references to the show, as to be expected, which I’m sure will evoke plenty of nostalgia from those who are fans of the series.
Much like SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, the remake to the cult classic 2003 3D platformer that SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is essentially a spiritual successor to, the game makes an admirable effort in the visual department of providing a 3D space that looks befitting of the Bikini Bottom and its citizens.
It’s definitely not the most visually detailed games out there, and a look at certain geometry present in levels will often leave you shocked at the sheer lack of detail, but it does an admirable enough job, and looks quite pretty in some instances also.
It’s worth noting that despite playing the game on my PS5, The Cosmic Shake on PlayStation only has a native PS4 version, with Switch, Xbox One, and PC also available. I’m not sure whether the bump up in console generations would’ve seen the visuals improve much, but it is important to recognise that the game is targeting some hardware that is almost a decade old now.
The games soundtrack borrows from the show, which is a great decision given the litany of iconic sounds and songs present throughout the series more than two decade runtime. Tracks that weren’t recycled have also been created by the team responsible for the Battle for Bikini Bottom soundtrack, ensuring a continuity in sound across the two games. Some of the level themes do get grating as they repeat again and again, but they’re still enjoyable tracks for the most part.
Speaking of levels, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake has seven of them, each with their own distinct theme and fancy SpongeBob costume. One level is Western themed and sees SpongeBob decked out in Cowboy attire, while another sees Spongebob donning his karate gear, and appearing in a karate movie being directed by an alternate dimension Squidward. Levels must be completed to progress to the next, with the destroyed Bikini Bottom serving as the hub world between levels.
In typical 3D platformer fashion, your aim in these levels are to explore the largely linear levels collecting stuff, defeating the various types of enemies that get in your way, and completing objectives (whether it be collecting particular items or solving a simple puzzle) in order to progress through the level and find SpongeBob’s missing friends. Each level can be completed in around 30-40 minutes, and consist of open and linear level segments.
SpongeBob controls well with his reliable Crash Bandicoot-esque spin attack, double jump and glide using the iconic Krusty Krab Pizza box, and as the game progresses and you make your way through the levels, he unlocks even more handy abilities, such as a karate kick and grapple hook.
The regular enemies don’t offer up much of a challenge given you can be hit four times before dying and there’s a copious amount of health around, but some do require you to make use of particular abilities to defeat them, ensuring combat doesn’t devolve into a mindless spin attack spam fest. Boss fights are ever so slightly more interesting, but even they are a cake walk.
Jelly serves as the main collectible currency throughout the game, and can be used to unlock new costumes. Other than the story-required costumes that technically unlock the portals to respective levels, all other costumes are purely cosmetic and are more welcome references to the series. It would have been nice for the costumes to have unlocked level specific abilities or something similar, but sadly they’re only cosmetic.
Overall, the gameplay of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is good, but its simplicity and lack of challenge holds it back from being truly great.
With only seven levels to play through, the game is relatively short, and can be beaten in roughly five hours if deeper exploration and optional side-quests aren’t your cup of tea. If they are, you can probably squeeze a couple extra hours, but even then, the game is still on the shorter side. Thankfully, THQ Nordic seem to have acknowledged that fact, as the game isn’t a full priced retail release, releasing at an ever so slightly more palatable $59.95 AUD.
I definitely enjoyed myself while playing through The Cosmic Shake, but I also had some issues with the game. One of the biggest annoyances for me which quickly made me furious was the lack of quotes SpongeBob would say naturally throughout levels.
For whatever reason, he seemed to say the phrase “Sticky Sweet” every few minutes, which was fine to begin with, before quickly becoming so annoying that I considered turning voice acting off. It took me out of the experience every time I heard it, and it would’ve been nice to have had more variety in the quotes he spouts in each level.
By far the biggest issue though are the myriad of technical hiccups and bugs present in the game. From repeated audio in dialogue, to unexplained deaths that seemingly occurred for no reason, there were plenty of annoying instances that sullied the experience. I had one bug where a crab that slows SpongeBob down got stuck on him, and no matter what I did, it wouldn’t come off. I eventually found a fix to the problem at hand, but it left me irritated.
Although the outdated visuals, weird bugs, and technical mishaps do set the game back a bit, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is still an enjoyable but basic 3D platforming experience.
It may not reinvent the wheel, and it feels like a game made during the PS2 era, but what it lacks in creativity is somewhat made up for by its solid platforming gameplay, humorous writing, and lovable cast of characters.
Whether you’re a fan of SpongeBob or just after another 3D platformer, I’d recommend giving this one a chance.
Written by: @GrumpyGoron