SpongeBob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake REVIEW! (PS4)
''Meow'' - Gary
Developed: Purple Lamp Studios
Published: THQ Nordic
Release Date: Jan 31st, 2033
*Review copy provided to me by THQ Nordic*
Spongebob Squarepants The Cosmic Shake is a 3D platformer developed by Purple Lamp Studios and published the THQ Nordic. Coming off the heels of a really great remaster of Battle For Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, Purple Lamp Studios aims to bring us a brand new entry that lives up to the same standard of fun and creativity. But do they succeed in their efforts? or dry up like a sponge in the sun? only one way to find out, so lets go!
Spongebob is having a usual day of fun and mischief alongside his buddy Patrick as they get ready to go to a big entertainment event together, however like he always does, Spongebob gets distracted by this merchant who sells him this magical bubble maker that has the power to make any wish he makes come true. Unfortunately for everyone in Bikini Bottom, Spongebob didn't read the fine print and breaks the very fabric of time and space itself with the bubbles powers, and sends Bikini Bottom and its inhabitants through a vortex into another realm. Now determined to set things right, Spongebob sets out on his latest adventure to bring all his friends home safe and sound.
''Adventure due to stupidity begins''
Cosmic Shake, as stated in my opener, is a 3D Platforming game that follows in the footsteps of titles like Battle For Bikini Bottom Rehydrated. With that having been said and out in the open, it definitely has a lot to live up to in order to reach that level of creativity and fun factor - its definitely a tough task. Does it accomplish it? ehh, to some extent yes and to others, not really. This seems to always be a problem with titles of this nature dating back all the way to the original Nintendo when a studio gets a popular tv show or movie property to use to make a video game out of. Sometimes it goes great like with Lion King and Aladdin on Super Nintendo and other times... well.. you let LJN handle it and end up with whatever Beetlejuice was. On top of the pressure of honoring a long standing kids and adult entertainment franchise like Spongebob, you have to avoid looking and playing like a cash grab, otherwise people see through this. Cosmic Shake overall DOES stop itself short of being called a cash grab in most areas, but fails in others where it really shouldn't have - whether it be do to time constraints or budget issues that affected that outcome. I know I know, I'm starting this review out like an angsty and monotone Squidward, but hey, cheer up bucko, its not all bad news. So enough being all Krabby my boy, lets dive into what the heck you'll actually be doing in this title.
The title starts up with Spongebob waking up excited because today is the day him and Patrick are heading out to go to a theme park that they've been anxiously awaiting to go to. Which right off the bat just made me think of Doug and Skeeters journey when they won tickets to go see The Beets and ended up missing the bus to get to the concert.. this too does happen in Cosmic Shake. No, they don't get killer Beets jackets and backstage passes like Doug and Skeeter, instead they get dealt an even more heinous hand. As Spongebob waits for Patrick to get ready, he wanders around town talking to his friends like Sandy, Mr Krabs and other civilians, and in this section, you learn how to jump with X, double jump by pressing X twice, jump and hold X to glide like a Ninja Turtle with a pizza box, and use Square to melee and so forth. The further you get in the game, you'll also learn about using bubbles to trap your enemies, ground pounding, swinging across obstacles, etc, but more on that in just a second, ya goofs. While Spongebob STILL waits on Patrick, he finds a mermaid selling some magical items and proceeds to buy a bottle of bubbles, because he loves freaking bubbles, almost as much as Bubbles loves cats in Trailer Park Boys. However, much to the disdain of Bikini Bottom, Squishy friend Bob didn't read the fine print and how the magic was only supposed to be used sparingly. Oops. Having screwed up and using too much of Neptunes Mermaid tears, it creates a warp in time and sucks Bikini Bottom into a vortex. Upon waking up, Spongebob is like ''well crap'' because Bikini Bottom, or what's left of it, is now covered in water and flooded. Hold up.. isn't Bikini Bottom under water to begin with? so how can it... how does it.. you know what, never mind.. good job you sponge freak, look what you did.
''Think Aeriel, but more nuts''
In a panic, Spongebob gains the help of the mermaid who sold him the magical soap bubble bottle and she tells him in order to save his friends and restore balance to everything, he must use special costumes to gain access to portals that will send him into a multiverse to save his friends. Simple enough, right?. The costumes you acquire and gain as you progress through the games 7 worlds range from a rootin tootin cowboy costume and makes you wanna yell RIDE LIKE THE WIND, BULLSEYE! as you use a Seahorse mount to traverse areas quicker or via riding platforming areas that are tasked to you after you obtain a license from Mrs Puffs, a caveman costume to harness your inner Brendan Frasier and go full Encino Man, Karate costume that allows you to press Triangle mid air to do a homing kick attack in World 2 while you're on set of various Karate movies directed by Squidward himself. Huh? Well I never expected to see that, thankfully for Squidward's sanity, since he's a perfectionist, Pee Wee Herman didn't speed past the set and ruin any of his films like in Pee Wee's Big Adventure. But if you think that's whacky, the game goes even further with the silliness by having Sandy in the multiverse end up as a sheriff of a local town and instead of a classic shootout in a western, they have a super intense showdown of drinking soda. Welp, this may help you save the multiverse, Spongebob, but have fun dealing with those kidney stones, just saying. Although, Sandy is lucky she's dealing with Spongebob and not someone like me, otherwise I'd be her huckleberry and play for blood, just like Doc Holiday.
As you can tell so far, in the weirdness factor, the game is pretty amped up. To be honest, it kind of has to be. Why? well to be quite frank, the game is a very very standard platformer in the most literal sense. Hub world with access to each level you select via portals, go into that portal to play a stage, go through each stage by punching enemies, stomping on them with a butt and belly flop, jump and climb across ledges and obstacles, use R2 to whip yourself over ledges, solve puzzles, collect currency that is usable in the in game shop to buy some awesome new costume to use that can make game play really funny, and take on some really silly boss fights as well, such as going one on one with karate master Sandy as she does her best Bruce Lee impression by wearing his same yellow and black striped gear from Game Of Death, or go on a search to save Gary from a rumored spooky monster that is reeking havoc, only to discover the main bad guy we were so worried about was freaking Gary himself, only now grown to giant sized thanks to eating too much chocolate. This boss fight is different than others in the sense that in other battles you either have to directly hit an enemy three times in straight combat or tossing an item at them, whereas here versus meow meow Gary, its all about stealth and staying out of his line of vision. It changes up the pace and is actually pretty fun if I'm going to be honest. Gary is also lucky he ate anyone else's chocolate except Willy Wonka's, otherwise, we'd be having an Oompa Loompa death song sung about him right about now. Probably something like, Oompa Loompa, dippity dairy, eat all our chocolate, now its good bye Gary. What do you get when you guzzle all of, that? a meowing Snail that thinks he is a.. CAT. Ok. I don't know. They'd totally be jerks though.
''Reach for the skyyyyy''
As you progress through these 7 worlds and save friends such as the just mentioned Gary, Mr Krabs, Puff, Patrick in his balloon form, Squidward and so forth, the fun and crazy continues with you being super nasty and collecting socks. Yup, that's right, socks. This takes place in a pirate themed level where you must work to raise the sails of multiple ships by collecting socks and raising socks as those sails. Its pretty weird, but honestly this is my favorite stage in the whole game. It feels super puzzle like and the platforming is both challenging and extremely fun due to how different and varied the level is. But not everything IS fun sadly. The game has spurts of greatness here and there and as far as Spongebob's charm and humor of show go, but there are certain points where it fails to meet the mark. The platforming, while competent most of the game, tends to become a tad bit tedious in a way due to the levels provided. While some are REALLY good like the mentioned pirate world, others feel just a like a common mainstay in every other tried platformer with basic jumping, unimaginative level design that seems the bare minimum of creativeness was put into it and that doesn't allow it to stand out or showcase its variety because certain levels lack it in general. There is also an issue with the riding and sliding down ramp mini areas where you slide down ramps using a seahorse mount or gliding along on your tongue - it just feels.. not as responsive as the core mechanics do and more in the lines of the jumping and awkwardness that you'd experience in Sonic Forces. Oh yeah, it's that level. Another issue is lack of polish like other reviewers have mentioned, however, I don't have a problem with the graphics like they do, this game looks fine, and at some points, really great. No, instead its the audio mess ups. Every now and then the game won't load properly either in between cutscenes or during scene transitions and it causes audio to play and overlap each other two to three times.. at the SAME time and its VERY jarring and annoying. This happened to me on multiple occasions throughout my nearly 6 hour playthrough and it was frustrating every time.
What sucks is because of these issues of polish and some areas seemingly lacking the care of budget, it gives it this weird cash grab feeling. Granted as I said earlier, overall it doesn't feel like a cash grab per-say, since there are parts of the game that are just as good as Battle For Bikini Bottom, but some parts like Caveman area definitely do make it feel like it could've been rushed quite a bit due to audio issues and even invisible walls. Because these are prominent throughout the game and not just one offs, it almost takes away from the great boss fights that have you use a vacuum to suck up enemies and throw them back at the main baddie, addicting nature of its collectables, silly chase scenes and whacky over the top antics that you expect from the show. You can have the time of your life watching a sandworm wiggle in the ground coming after you, allowing to butt stump on them to be able to hit them or dodge with quick reflexes as a burly menacing bad guy swings a stone tablet at you to create shockwaves, but ultimately get your mood ruined by a glitch or bug. Which can be a bit of a damper. Kevin Bacon probably played this game and was livid because this whole time he could've butt stumped the Graboids to beat them and not have to sit on a rock in the middle of the desert for like two days, whoops.
''Where's Godzilla when you need him?''
At the end of the day, Cosmic Shake ends up being a very mixed bag title. On one hand, it keeps the funny and weirdness that makes the show an entertaining watch, as well as offer some fun creative boss fights, casual pick up and play for all ages, challenging platforming, great amount of collectible costumes, art style that compliments the property, etc. But where it falls short is in its game length coming in at just under 6 hours if you straight playthrough it, longer obviously if you collect everything, audio glitches and game bugs that cause some issues with cutscenes and loading screens, wonky sliding mechanics that feel overly sensitive and causes you to fall to your death many times, and some levels that almost seem barren of life. This is where my verdict is a hard one to choose. On one hand the glitches don't directly affect the core gameplay itself while you play as in controls, but are still annoying, and the other, the game has some great writing that will make you chuckle quite a bit while playing through the games campaign. So I think the only way to factor in if its right for you or not is the pricing, and I think this one here is going to be saved by just that. If this title was $60 or even $50, I would say hard pass till it was $40 or below, but because of this games casual pick up and play for anyone format and for its fast and easy and lighthearted fun game sessions, for $40 at its starting price? you know what, I'm confident in recommending it at that entry level tag. Bow to me Sponge boy and soak up this win because my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW... but mainly due to price point.