Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Version (Played on a PS5)
Also Available On: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC
Standard Edition Price: $39.99 – Physical and Digital Available
BFF Edition Price: $249.99
Developer – Purple Lamp Studios
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release Date: January 31, 2023
Please Note: A review code was provided by THQ Nordic but does not influence opinions in this review.
Spongebob is a franchise that when I was a kid, I enjoyed in multiple ways. I grew up with these characters in the form of the TV show on Nickelodeon, the original movie, and some of the games. The video games have had multiple different publishers and developers that had a range of terrific adventures to mediocre ones that I didn’t enjoy. I have been eyeing Cosmic Shake since it was announced and I got the chance to review the title, thanks to friends at THQ Nordic. Where does this adventure land based on the classic IP from Viacom and Stephen Hillenburg? Lets explore my review to find out.
The story in a game is what holds together what you are trying to accomplish and Purple Lamp has crafted a story that isn’t based on any of the plot lines that are in the show, rather includes a new story with loads of easter eggs. The story is one that connects who the characters are individually and also as a whole in relation with each other. Bikini Bottom is a community of sea creatures and the team got this spot on with how they interact! Now, what is actually the plot of the game? Well, Spongebob and Patrick come across a special stand with an individual selling different items, including a bottle of Mermaid’s Tears. This has the power to grant any wish, and Spongebob and Patrick go ahead and purchase this item from the mysterious person. Bikini Bottom goes into chaos is because each of the residents of the town go to Spongebob to make a wish. There are so many that it causes a massive issue with time and space.
Multiple different portals open going to different timelines and other dimensions where one or more Bikini Bottom residents get teleported into. Everyone but Spongebob and Patrick has been sent to other worlds, so it up to them to fix what they have caused. Patrick has been turned into a Balloon due to his balloon wish, so he accompanies Spongebob but cannot do much besides offer dialogue and support on occasion. Both of them must travel to the worlds and bring their friends back, while also collecting jelly for the individual they bought the Mermaid Tears from. Overall, it is a pretty simplistic plot, and the true enemy of the game isn’t hard to pinpoint from the start if you look at everything closely, but it is a tale that is woven well together nonetheless and I was pleasantly surprised with its creativity.
In some of the other games involving this IP, you could play as multiple characters. In this game, you can only play as Spongebob. So as Spongebob, you have to travel to a total of seven (7) different worlds, plus you have a Bikini Bottom hub world, in order to retrieve your friends by completing objectives, doing side scrolling sections or 3D open area traversal platforming. Some of the traversal sections can be a little tight and tricky to figure out, but they are all able to be done. You also will be fighting enemies that are jelly based creatures. You have the ability to fight off these creatures using the abilities that you possess including a spin and kick attack, dodge roll, a slam attack, and more. There are also main bosses at the end of each world, with each one being a bit different than the last. None of the enemies are too hard, yet when there are a lot in the picture, you need to be careful not to be overwhelmed. Besides fighting enemies and completing the main objectives, you also have side objectives and collectables to find.
Each of the different worlds have both linear elements and also open areas to explore to complete main objectives and find collectables. In each of the worlds, there are also coins to find that are scattered throughout the areas. In order to get these coins, you either have to find them hidden in the world using abilities, complete side missions for each Bikini Bottom Resident, or complete mini activities. For example, in Halloween Rock Bottom, you have to find 5 good noodle stars for Ms. Puff and return them to her. Another example is Plankton’s pet Spot is missing a piece in each world so you have to find a piece of him in each of the worlds. Your reward for completing these side missions is a gold coin. Honestly, these are like fetch quests in some ways, but exploring all to see in each of the worlds is a fun time nonetheless. Not all worlds are in equal length, but the creativity in each one is outstanding nonetheless.
So the side missions and collectables are plentiful to collect, but what do you do with the coins? Well, there are a bunch of different costumes that you can purchase using the jelly you get by defeating enemies and tiki statues. The coins from side missions and in the worlds, help you unlock more “levels” of costumes. There are 4 costumes per “level” but what I don’t understand why the “levels” are the way they are since none of the costumes in higher levels cost more jelly than the last, which I would assume they would. The level cost does go up in terms of coins, but not the costumes cost. Not sure the reason why they did it this way since there is plenty of jelly to collect, but oh well. They range from awesome throwbacks to great episodes and games, to new ones not seen before, at least for me. I think none of the costumes are bad. Thanks to THQ Nordic, here is a look at the DLC costumes available. Lastly, there are some mini games scattered throughout the adventure too, but I don’t want to spoil these for people.
I have talked about the story and gameplay, but what about everything else. First, let me start with how the game runs. Well, playing the PS4 version on a PS5 I can say there was no major issues that I came across with. There was no crashes, which is a huge plus for me. In terms of frame dips when in combat or within most of the worlds, I can say it is overall good and solid frame rates. There was an occasional “pause” when loading into a new area of a world, including Bikini Bottom that lasted a couple of seconds at most, but otherwise it is very well stable. When there were a bunch of enemies in the area or areas that had large 3D environments and sections of openness, everything ran smooth.
In terms of the visuals, there are occasional pop in when loading into a new world or section of the world from what I experienced, but that is kind of expected. There are occasional bugs that appeared which shouldn’t be in the world. They were either missing a small piece of a world with graphical bugs or different things not appearing like they should, like a side mission not showing up in the menu screen. None of these are game breaking but just a couple of minor issues. THQ Nordic did say they were patching the certain mission later so that’s a good thing that they know the issue exists already. The art style in the game is vibrant and colorful, and every character and location pops thanks to the brightness and shading on the different characters and objects. The visuals and art in the game are very clean and the polish that went into how well everything looks is a plus, minus a few small issues that I talked about.
The music in the game is a mixture of classic tunes from the show, but also new music that connects to each of the specific worlds. Each of the worlds have a different vibe and the audio design in them all match it greatly. Wild West Jellyfish Fields plays country like tunes and Halloween Rock Bottom plays eerie mixes and ambient noises. All of them in the game are well crafted and I never had to turn on other music, which is something that I do when I think the music isn’t great. In terms of the voice acting, the original voice actors from the show are back and voice their lines terrifically. If there was a character that wasn’t actually reprised from the show, it sounds as though it was. This makes the game even better as you hear what you remember from the show. Audio is a key aspect in a game, and THQ Nordic and Purple Lamp Studios did an absolute terrific job. Just an FYI, one song in the credits is Sweet Victory…
In Cosmic Shake, besides some graphical bugs and other minor nags, there wasn’t too many issues I had with it. There is 2 small nitpicks about the combat though if I am being completely honest in this review. One of these is the fact that the enemies were a little bit too easy to figure out how to beat and were easier than Battle for Bikini Bottom was. There were a few enemies in that game that gave me a bit of challenge; meanwhile, Cosmic Shake didn’t have any enemy give me a big issue. Maybe a difficulty option would fix this kind of thing? This leads me to the second issue I have with the game. I kind of wish there was a little more diverse enemy types within the different levels. For example, there is an enemy that is in Halloween Rock Bottom that I only saw that appears there and outside of that world’s portal. I wish that enemy was in other parts of the game since it can’t be destroyed like the others and was a nice change of pace. Otherwise, I don’t have many issues with the games combat, but it isn’t too challenging.
All in all, Cosmic Shake is a game that was an absolute blast to play and I enjoyed every minute within the game. Some of the collectables provided me a challenge to get and I was so happy once I finally beat everything and got 100% in the game. Getting the platinum in games is something that I don’t do unless I can do it without much difficulty or if I felt like I needed to do it for myself. This is a game that oozes fun at every corner. Any fan of the the Spongebob IP should be checking out this game, as I think it stands proud right next to the amazing Battle for Bikini Bottom. Is it better than BFBB? Well… I don’t think so. It is different, but not sure if I could say it is better, at least for me personally. I think that this title should be on the radar of any fan of a 3D platformer too. However, if you are looking for a challenging hardcore game, this is not one for you. Cosmic Shake is an absolute homerun and I am excited to potentially see more out of this studio in the future; whether it be another Spongebob game, or something else entirely.
Review Score: 8/10