Imagine me, a fourth grader in 2003, given the opportunity to explore every nook and cranny of Bikini Bottom. As someone who logged probably four hundred hours into the original game, I was desperately excited for the Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated. Despite my best efforts to dig up my old gamecube disc from the depths of my parents’ old storage shed, I was unable to succeed in a play-through before diving into the new edition. However, playing through Rehydrated felt exactly the same as I remembered.
Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is a 3D platformer where you play as Spongebob, Patrick, and Sandy while you fight evil robots that Plankton unleashed on the city. Along the way to defeat your mechanical enemies, you collect golden spatulas, Patrick’s lost socks, and shiny objects.
As one of the earlier 3D platformers ever made, the game really takes full advantage of the genre. No one could accuse this game of putting you on rails. There’s never a clear, linear path through levels. The game takes you all over Bikini Bottom, even expanding some areas not seen in the show, like the Rock Bottom museum and the Flying Dutchman’s graveyard. The environments are so thoroughly developed, it almost feels like an open world RPG. Because of this, Battle for Bikini Bottom was a perfect candidate for the remastering that we see in Rehydrated.
Overall, the game is challenging without being needlessly punishing (except for the kelp forest - fuck the kelp forest, for real). Even though the game was probably designed for younger audiences, there were still areas I really had to work at to get through. One of the defining characteristics of the gameplay for Rehydrated is that all attacks and special movements come from an understanding of each of the unique characters - Spongebob, with his bubble attacks, Patrick, with his belly flops, and Sandy, with her lasso. The original game was like a love letter to Spongebob, and Rehydrated is only better.
I really would have liked to see Rehydrated re-record some of the voice acting, for the characters in the original game that were not from the cast for the show. Mr. Krabs’ voice is especially jarring, and I remember it being that way in the old game as well. Not that you should play this game with the volume on for any extended length of time - you’d probably lose your mind, even if you’re a nostalgia player.
Other than that, the updated graphics really capture the bright and optimistic world of Spongebob and all his friends. Whether you’re a kid playing this game for the first time, or a twenty-something who’ll always have a place in their heart for Spongebob, you’re guaranteed to have a rewarding gaming experience.