SpongeBob SquarePants has been on Nickelodeon for over two decades now, affecting the generations that have grown up with the character on TV. For as long as the sponge has been on TV, there have been gaming spin-offs meant to capture the magic that has kept the TV show on the air for so long. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is Nickelodeon’s latest attempt at an underwater adventure.
Throughout its run, the SpongeBob SquarePants TV show has benefited from the internet and social media, where fans will share clips they loved growing up. Many of these moments are directly referenced in the game, with many of the game’s characters, mechanics, and references coming from the mid-to-late 2000s episodes of the show.
Linear levels that offer some later exploration
In a lot of ways, this game feels like a sequel to 2020’s Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, which features many similar platforming mechanics. The levels in The Cosmic Shake seem a little smaller, although this could be because each level is much more packed with citizens, monsters, and different props from each new world.
The game starts very quickly, with less than a 25-second cutscene before players are immediately set loose into the world. In a lot of ways, this feels like a standard opening to an episode of the TV show, with players following a few simple objectives as SpongeBob waits for Patrick to wake up so that they can go to Glove World. This is likely to keep kids engaged, but it doesn’t feel rushed into the action.
While visiting their favorite theme park, a mystical mermaid appears with a whole range of magical items. Of course, the duo finds something they like in a magical bubble solution, and then the entire town of Bikini Bottom is destroyed. This premise is engaging and sets up the 10-hour-long episode that is the rest of the game, giving players a reason to travel back and forth through the levels.
In order to bring back all his friends, SpongeBob will need to go through the seven different themed worlds based on previous episodes of the series. These are all pretty linear, with everything but large arrows telling you directly where to go. While there are areas off the beaten path to explore, the game provides several indicators of where your main objective is.
You’re expected to return back to earlier levels after you’ve unlocked new skills, but this is hard when the level starts to blur together and you can’t remember which checkpoint had the hooks. In these instances, it’s far more productive to just start at the beginning and then run through the course of the level again, which may be seen as tedious by some less-than-patient audiences.
A SpongeBob game built on the show’s memes
Anyone who’s spent a decent amount of time on social media will recognize that SpongeBob occasionally does rounds. People love to share classic moments from the show, with some of them turning into memes that get used even more. It really seems that Nickelodeon and the developers took note of that and leaned heavily into those jokes and direct callbacks to the series.
It also felt like many of the jokes referenced were from some of the show’s mid-to-late 2000s episodes, with things like the Alaskan Bull Worm and the infamous “Leedle-leedle-lee” from Patrick on the Flying Dutchman’s ship. While it did feel like a bit much at times, it kind of makes you feel like a kid for a brief second as you remember when you saw that episode for the first time.
The same can be said of the costumes that players can unlock through the course of the game, with many of them being reminders of episodes like “Opposite Day” and “Ugh.” It is fun to equip these costumes and play as the character from your favorite episodes of the show.
Where Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated was based on an already existing game from 2003, The Cosmic Shake is Nickelodeon’s latest attempt at a completely new SpongeBob game, which may be why it definitely feels like an adaptation of its time. The abundance of references in dialogue, cutscenes, and characters is nice, even if it can feel like a crowded room at times.
A game for fans of all ages
For those who enjoy the show, whether they be kids who’ve just discovered it or longtime fans of the series, there is something to enjoy in The Cosmic Shake. The platforming is easy enough that most kids over the age of six could likely figure it out. At the same time, there are a surprising number of collectibles and fetch quests that will keep more mature players busy for hours.
This isn’t the best SpongeBob game that’s ever been released, but it’s a nice time for fans of the series to get to spend some extra time with their favorite characters. While this is a great game for most kids, it will likely mean more to those who’ve seen the TV show and can make out some of the jokes that the game seems to rely on.
This game will take experienced platformer players around 12 hours to beat, give or take. It will likely take a few more hours to complete all of the collection quests and go back through the levels to find all the secret areas. Regardless, it’s fun enough that a wide audience of age ranges should be able to enjoy their time with it.
This is a game clearly made for fans, and those who weren’t allowed to watch the show growing up will likely find the character and premise just as annoying as they did back then.
The Final Word
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is a tribute to over 20 years of the show’s history, banking on classic references and memes to impress players. While there is a lot to do in this new version of Bikini Bottom, it largely involves much of the same linear progression as past games. If you’ve followed and enjoyed the last two decades of the show, then this game will likely be perfect for you.
Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake can be purchased via the PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, or on Steam.