3D platforming games appear to be on a comeback trail. Ratchet and Clank enjoyed a resurgence earlier this year with their new-gen hit, the gaming titan Nintendo announced a February 2021 Mario 3D platforming release, and now THQ Nordic has announced a return to the subgenre via a new SpongeBob game.
Just over a year after the release of Battle for Bikini Bottom: Rehydrated, THQ Nordic released a trailer for “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake” on Friday, September 17th. Flashes of gameplay and general content were shown off in a brief trailer, but no release date was announced. The game will be out for the Nintendo Switch, XBox One and PS4. By proxy, this also makes them available for the XBox Series X and the PS5.
THQ Nordic also attached a brief preview of what will take place to kick off the story. It reads:
“SpongeBob and Patrick meet the mysterious fortune teller Kassandra who gives them a vial full of Mermaid’s Tears. Legend claims they grant the wishes of those who are pure of heart…
“Naturally, the two best buddies get overexcited and their flurry of wishes tears open the very fabric of space and time. All while releasing Cosmic Jelly onto Bikini Bottom and opening portals to strange Wishworlds in the process.
“Now it’s up to our heroes to rescue their friends who got lost in the Wishworlds and bring back Bikini Bottom’s most iconic buildings.
“But Kassandra has her own devious plan…”
During the trailer, many classic and even iconic shoutouts to past SpongeBob episodes are made. The legendary meme Spongegar, Sandy in her Bruce Lee outfit from Karate Island, Snailbob and the fan favorite song “Sweet Victory” are played. Additionally, we have some insight on some other familiar territories THQ Nordic has announced will be explored in the game- the Wild West Jellyfish Fields and Halloween Rock Bottom have been revealed, and will be two of several maps the player will engage with in the game. Finally, unlike Rehydrated, this game will seemingly include original voice actors- potentially including Mr Krabs’ Clancy Brown, who strangely was one of few excluded from voicing his own character in Rehydrated.
So now that we’ve unpacked everything THQ Nordic has unraveled, how does this game become successful on the market? Let’s have a look:
The more fan service, the better
As a standalone game, non-SpongeBob fans will probably find this particular game to be decent, but perhaps not a complete smash hit. That’s how SpongeBob games tend to be- they are largely fan service endeavors. They can afford to be that way, as the show has been arguably the most popular cartoon across all of television since it debuted all the way back in 1999- this means plenty of people have seen it, and will appreciate fan service. Already, at least the trailer seems to hint at loads of fan service, with all of the old time references to episodes released in the distant past appearing in this game. Simply put, THQ Nordic should feel very liberal about including as much fan service in this game as possible. This game already looks as though it is being marketed towards the franchise’s fan base, so THQ Nordic shouldn’t try to stretch themselves too thin and should just load up on as many TV references and inclusions as possible.
All the way back in 2004, when the original Battle for Bikini Bottom released, there was a small amount of dynamic gameplay- SpongeBob gains a couple new tools as he progresses, but these are passive gains and they’re earned at very specific time intervals, thus not being terribly dynamic. It seems THQ Nordic has plans to change this for Cosmic Shake, as they’ve announced two particular combat moves- Karate Kick and Fishhook Swing – will be unlocked at some point in the game. What would really be a nice idea would be for maneuvers like this to be earned with a progression process, where playable characters level up throughout the game and become stronger as they level up, with the game adjusting enemy combatants accordingly with the player’s level. This would add a difficulty spike of some kind to the game, but would also provide another element to engage the player with, and give this game some wings as a result.
A fluid online experience
The online experience in Rehydrated is too repetitive and one dimensional to have survived much beyond the initial post-release hype of the game. Cosmic Shake won’t be a remaster of any kind, so it theoretically has infinite creativity to change this. A fun and loose single and multiplayer game would really bode well for this entry in terms of making it a genuinely memorable experience.
InReview will continue to evaluate this game as more information is released; it is somewhat difficult to fully comment on the game’s prospects with the truncated information we have on it, but hopefully a release date is announced soon and we get more of a glimpse of what it has to offer. Until then, stay tuned!