SpongeBob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake review — Getting back in the saddle

Bikini Bottom has always been weird, but it’s never been this strange before. Portals to alternate universes are opening up, Patrick’s a balloon, and there’s jelly everywhere! As you can probably guess, this is all SpongeBob’s fault – he and his friends made too many wishes on some magic bubble soap. With the help of Madame Kassandra, he and Patrick need to travel across the jelly-verse, rescue their friends, and save Bikini Bottom.

SpongeBob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake is something of a follow up to Battle for Bikini Bottom, created by the same studio that did that game’s remaster. SpongeBob once again needs to save his home, this time by opening portals with cosmic costumes, collecting cosmic jelly, and finding his pals and taking them back to Bikini Bottom.The Sponge who is Bob has a pretty similar moveset to BfB too, with a double jump, a short glide with the Krusty Krab pizza, a slam, bubble spin, and a few new tricks too like a dodge and the ability to throw bubble projectiles. Weirdly enough, I found myself gravitating towards a GameCube style controller on Switch for nostalgia but mostly because the controls, with A being jump, feel more natural with that layout.

Cosmic Shake isn’t a collectathon, however, instead consisting of seven levels with Bikini Bottom serving as a hub. The levels are mostly linear with a main objective at the end progressing the story. There are side quests that will take you all over, but you only need to complete those seven levels to finish the game, making this a fairly short adventure. Still, if you’re a fan of the show it’s worth playing through at least once.

Being a kid’s game, Cosmic Shake doesn’t pose any challenge whatsoever to someone well versed in the platforming genre. It’s all very basic, but things did start to pick up around Halloween Rock Bottom with more interesting level layouts and objectives. The first few levels, such as Wild West Jellyfish Fields, are a bit too straight forward and don’t do anything with their themes outside of a minigame or two. The Halloween theme here actually has you exploring a small town and going trick-or-treating which was a nice treat (pun intended). I am still a bit disappointed by how little the game takes advantage of the multiverse gimmick, because Rock Bottom is the highlight of the game in that regard, everything else is just standard affair.

If you’re a SpongeBob fan, however, you will still find just seeing these alternate versions of the characters fun. In particular, I liked Director Squid Van Hammerschmidt and Princess Pearl, because they act exactly how you would expect in a delightful way. You don’t really get alternate versions of SpongeBob and Patrick, but there is one level in which they are reduced to cavefish grunts and noises. This isn’t a hilarious game, but it will make you chuckle a few times at least.

A lot of the enjoyment of Cosmic Shake comes from recognizing things from the show. You can find the Rest Home where Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy live, there are costumes referencing specific episodes like Bossy Boots and the movie, the MY LEG guy makes a few appearances, and the credits song is even Sweet Victory from the best episode, Band Geeks. There are quite a lot of nods to classic SpongeBob, but overall the humor is closer to what the show is now. It’s not a bad thing, just not quite as good – I’m just glad we’re out of the gross-out era. Well, mostly. There are some Gross-Up gags but those land pretty well and are the exception rather than the rule.

SpongeBob SquarePants The Cosmic Shake Gameplay - Switch [Gaming Trend]

Jumping back to gameplay, you’ll learn new moves as you progress like a grappling fish hook, a more powerful slam, and my personal favorite a homing Kah-Rah-Tay kick. I certainly like getting new moves, especially when it encourages replaying levels to find new secrets like side quest items or gold doubloons to unlock costumes, but there’s no contextual reason for why you can do this now. A tutorial just pops up and voila you have the move. Some of the moves themselves are also very clunky and unpolished. Using the grapple is very jarring with sudden and jerky movements, while the kick just kinda causes SpongeBob to quickly float over to a target with no real punch. They work, most of the time, but it can take some getting used to.

That sums up my general feelings on the gameplay: it works, but lacks charm and polish. So if you’re just looking for a good 3D platformer, Cosmic Shake is harder to recommend than it would be for fans of the show. It’s not bad, far from it, just a bit too standard and bland. If you are a fan, however, you’ll find things to like here: from references to past episodes to the new, hilariously evil Madame Kassandra.

In terms of Switch specifics, this will probably be the worst version of the title by quite a bit. Load times are lengthy, and the game drops frames and stutters frequently. It does look great, with some excellent modeling, lighting, and cutscene animation, but it’s harder to enjoy that when the game is clearly struggling to run. Docked mode fares better in the looks department, but suffers from the same issues. In portable you’re essentially getting the worst of all worlds with lower resolution on top of performance problems. It’s great to hear all the original voice actors return here, along with several tunes ripped straight out of the cartoon, but those can be glitchy too with music not looping right away or voices cutting themselves off frequently. I have been informed many of these issues will be fixed in a post launch patch, but that is sadly not the version I am reviewing here.



Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake

Review Guidelines

SpongeBob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake doesn’t live up to its predecessor, but is still an enjoyable enough romp through the sea. There are a ton of delightful callbacks that can spice up the safe level design and it’s fun to see alternate versions of beloved characters. If you’re a fan it’s worth playing through, but if not you may want to skip this one.

David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book. David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.

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