SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake feels like a game of yesteryear, in both good and bad ways. It’s a nostalgic romp through themed levels that feels inspired as more than just another platforming tour through Bikini Bottom. It does a great job of highlighting why people who grew up with SpongeBob SquarePants loved the show, and why people still love it today. At its best, the gameplay is decently fun, but at its worst, it’s mindlessly dull. This, combined with a few bugs, such as the music disappearing entirely, or the three difficult crashes I experienced, prevent this SpongeBob’s latest adventure from progressing to anything more than average.
Mermaid fortune teller Kassandra is in Bikini Bottom, and she gives SpongeBob and Patrick a vial of magical bubble soap that breaks the underwater multiverse, bringing chaos to Bikini Bottom. It is up to SpongeBob to rescue his friends by visiting different worlds in an attempt to restore the town to its former glory. These themed locations take SpongeBob on pirate adventures in the Wild West, medieval times, and more. These levels were among the highlights of my nearly 10 hours with The Cosmic Shake. Purple Lamp does a great job of recreating the world of Spongebob in these themed biomes, and it was clear to see how different classic characters mingled in them.
Mr. Krabs is a money-hungry corsair in a pirate-themed world, while Mrs. Puff runs a seahorse riding school in a Wild West level. That the show’s actors lend their voices to these characters adds a premium touch to every conversation. And perhaps ironically, the best writing in the game is original work by Purple Lamp, with several instances that made me laugh out loud (Patrick’s trademark dead-pan naivete is the standout). When Purple Lamp forced specific references to the SpongeBob SquarePants show, though, I either got bored or downright pissed off at the writing. Hearing Spongebob sing the Krusty Krab Pizza song, which was a unique banger, was cute the first time, but hearing him randomly sing it for the tenth time as I was building up the stage around a Hollywood-esque movie set was anything but. was not.
The platforming in The Cosmic Shake starts and ends rudimentarily, but I don’t mind that — aimed at kids, this level of difficulty seems appropriate. I jump, glide, body slam, and karate my way through simple platforming sequences, defeating enemies with an equally rudimentary combat system. I do this using a standard jellyfish-catching net swing, SpongeBob’s body slam, or a karate kick. The combat is not notable throughout the game. Unless forced into it, I only dig in what I need to and move on.
When I’m not fighting against jelly creatures from across the multiverse, I’m collecting jellies scattered around each level and within Tiki crates, which I use to buy one of two dozen costumes, or I I’m tracking gold coins, golden spatulas, or some other item. The main objectives of each level are easy to achieve – go here, do that, and fight the boss at the end. But side objectives from Bikini Bottom’s various residents give reason to jump back into each level to collect more, and that’s where I found the most challenging. I wish more of this challenge was present in the main objectives, though.
Purple Lamp shows an obvious adoration for SpongeBob SquarePants, with in-jokes, deep cuts, and characters that brought me back to my childhood. And when they weren’t overused or forced, they worked well in the narrative. I especially loved hearing a fish squeal about its love of chocolate, and “My leg!” I felt very happy. When The Cosmic Shake is at its best, it sounds, looks, and plays like the kind of game I would have begged my parents to buy me growing up. But when it falters, it’s boring. This is a game that I easily recommend to fans of SpongeBob SquarePants; For those looking for a great platform, however, there are better options elsewhere in the ocean.