Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom — Rehydrated sports a new multiplayer mode not included in the original 2003 release. The mode allows two players, either online or locally, to fight through a horde mode against waves and waves of robots. Not only can players select from the game’s three characters, Spongebob, Patrick, and Squidward, but Gary, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and Robo-Plankton are also playable characters in this mode.
While the main three have their abilities paired back to only include their standard attack and their ground pound attacks, Squidward and Robo-Plankton provide a new ranged attack option to incorporate into your co-op strategy. After selecting your character, players fight through 26 islands and 3 waves per island of robots which are, apparently, fighting on behalf of a Robo-Squidward? It’s hard to tell, because the opening cutscene has no dialogue and there is no in-game explanation about what’s going on.
The mode itself is essentially a co-op romp to try to get to the end. Nothing more, nothing less. If you die but your partner doesn’t you respawn after a few seconds. If you both die at the same time, the wave restarts. Or does it? There were times early on where the wave would just get skipped if we both jumped into the goo on purpose and we could never tell if this was an intentional design, a happy accident, or if Jason was just imaging it every time.
The connection was unacceptably atrocious. Not only were we booted from our session several times but the other player on your screen would look like they were just teleporting around the screen. You could never tell what they were actually doing half the time, which would occasionally make it challenging to tell if your partner had died or not.
Ultimately, the game mode was just confusing. We thought for a while that the mode was purely competitive because of the whole wave skipping part and the competitive aspect of counting kills and deaths per player. And then, when you finally get to the end of the increasingly difficult waves, the last few genuinely being challenging albeit repetitive, it just ends. No final cutscene. No victory dance. Sweet Victory doesn’t play like it should. You just get zapped back to the menu and you’re left with nothing .
In classic But Why Tho? fashion, we present a co-op review of Battle for Bikini Bottom experience.
What were your expectations going in?
Nikko: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since a multiplayer game mode wasn’t included in the original version of the game. However, I was expecting to have a fun time playing as some of my favorite characters in the series. On top of that, I was expecting something that would make this remastered version of Battle for Bikini Bottom unique since it seemed to be the only new addition.
Jason: From the trailer I saw beforehand, I wasn’t expecting anything groundbreaking, but I anticipated a fun time bopping robots and fighting against Robo-Squidward. I had been under a misimpression though from earlier marketing that made me think that Robo-Squidward would be a full-on boss battle newly added to the game.
How did the game handle?
Nikko: There were certain aspects of the Battle for Bikini Bottom multiplayer game mode that handled better than others. For one, the overall controls and combat mechanics were simple to follow. However, timing and distance became an issue when attempting to deal damage. I was unsure as to how far I needed to be to deal damage to enemies without taking damage myself.
Jason: Compared to the main game, which runs mostly smooth save for some annoying hitboxes, the Battle for Bikini Bottom multiplayer is definitely a bit clunkier. The hitboxes were universally more difficult to discern and the pulled-back camera and angle made it difficult to judge whether I was going to hit the robots or not a lot of the time. Plus, when taking damage, the game felt like it just randomly decided how far back I would fly and whether I would land in the goo. Not to mention our connection was awful and at no fault of our internet. Nikko looked like he was just warping around the screen and I could never tell what he was actually doing.
What worked well/did you enjoy about the Battle for Bikini Bottom multiplayer?
Nikko: I enjoyed the rather simplistic feeling that the multiplayer game mode had. The objective was easy to follow while also adding the right amount of challenges along the way. I also enjoyed the different characters that we could choose from and that they had their own fighting style. I also rarely play multiplayer games online since I never got used to them, but I enjoyed playing the game alongside someone else. The overall experience of playing the multiplayer with someone I knew made things easier.
Jason: I definitely enjoyed getting to play as different characters. It made me wish though that you could unlock them in the single-player. Let Mr. Krabs throw watermelons. Let Squidward use a lasso. Let Gary blow bubbles. Make Robo-Plankton the universal character who can do everyone’s moves! But, I digress. For as simple as the mode was and as frustrating as the controls were, Nikko and I did have a good time using it as a vehicle for enjoying ourselves, even if the game itself wasn’t all that fun.
What were the biggest problems you had?
Nikko: The biggest problem that I had was how repetitive the game mode got after clearing a few sections. It got difficult as we progressed, but it got rather boring facing the same enemies. I wish that there was something that made this game mode more unique. Making the game mode shorter could have definitely helped.
Jason: I wish that the mode’s opening cutscene would have given an actual plot to the whole thing. Maybe even included voiceover. It’s not like Spongebob isn’t still on air, they could probably have gotten studio time for a couple of lines. It just made our adventure across floating islands made of candy that looked like red onions and giant Anchor Arms seem pointless, especially considering the well-conceived story of the single-player game. I also had a hard time playing with Squidward. His ranged attack uses three music notes per attack and it was impossible to aim the second and third attacks. Also, he needs to learn a few more notes because those sound effects got annoying fast.
How did you feel when you got to the end?
Nikko: Honestly, I was rather glad that the game mode was over. This isn’t to say that the game mode was bad, but the repetitiveness overshadowed everything else. It was also frustrating having to deal with multiple connection errors that made us have to restart the game mode from the beginning.
Jason: I yelled with frustration. After getting booted from our game twice before and having absolutely no sense of purpose across the somewhat long but unlosable game, to have absolutely no conclusion to our journey was just upsetting. I really expected more from the single addition to this remake and maybe that’s my own fault for setting too-high expectations? But it was just such a bummer to receive no reward or recognition of our accomplishment.
How did you feel when Sweet Victory didn’t play upon our triumph?
Nikko: I was actually disappointed that it wasn’t included. The episode that the song appears in, “Band Geeks,” is my favorite episode of Spongebob Squarepants. I play the song any time I accomplish anything truly amazing. Had the song played at the end of the level, it would have been a nice easter egg for long-time fans of the show.
Jason: Look, I didn’t expect them to actually do it. There was probably a better chance of the song playing at the Super Bowl last year than there was of us getting such a sweet reward at the end of this arduous journey. But when I joked to Nikko “hey, what if when we win they play Sweet Victory,” it became basically your only incentive to continue playing. It was entirely a made-up idea that we used just to motivate ourselves through, but I guess maybe it’s a bit symbolic of how the Battle for Bikini Bottom multiplayer experience wound up just being more about the fun we had hating the game than the actual playing it.
Battle for Bikini Bottom‘s multiplayer. Is it fun? Not particularly Is it worth playing anyway? Not really. But, did we have a good time playing it together? Yeah, we’d both say so. The mode doesn’t add anything of worth to the game and probably runs more smoothly playing locally. Yet, there was something at least valuable in all of the Spongebob jokes we made up along the way since the game didn’t particularly offer any itself.