|System: PS2, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: THQ||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 23, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
We all know the song, whether we want to admit it or not. We all know the names of the main characters, even the voices of the characters. Unfortunately, we also know the history of the sponge and his many incarnations on video game consoles. This isn't to say that some of them have not been good, but rather, most of them are either way too off-kilter from the show that we really don't care too much about the game to start with. There have always been issues of games not being more than kid friendly button mashers. To be honest, none of the previous tales of the sponge under the sea have been promising enough to continuously warrant further installments. Having said that, is there a reason to pick up this latest offering? Well, yes and no.
The tale is deeply riddled with the magical city of Atlantis. Spongebob and his assorted main cast embark on a quest to the wondrous city. Along the way to finding lost treasure you experience some of the most diverse gameplay, I have yet to see in a family friendly game. All of the characters we have come to know and love, or hate, are here - Spongebob Squarepants, Patrick Starr, Sandy Cheeks, Squidward Tentacles, Mr. Krab, and of course Plankton. The true magic of the story is how it is integrated with some of the moments from the show, for example; Spongebob and Patrick's obsessive nature over bubbles, and of course Mr. Krab's greedy nature to always try and make a quick buck.
If you are looking for diversity in gameplay, then this game is the one for you. In fact, it is probably the best thing I encountered in this or any other family game. Whether you are driving around in a tank that fires ice cream, piloted by Plankton, or taking photographs as Spongebob at Bikini Bottom's history museum, you will find something that you enjoy. My favorite happened to be the puzzle strategy mechanic to the game. Very early on in the game, you will experience this with Patrick and Spongebob. You are in a cave and you have to figure out how to maneuver around the levels of the cave using the specific talents of Spongebob and Patrick, including flipping objects out of the way with Spongebob's trusty spatula and using Patrick's freakish strength. There's also a stage designed for the Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution players. This one involves using the talents of the cast to sing, rock, play country, and the talents of Squidward on the clarinet. The premise might be a bit much for some, you have to fill a flying magic bus with musical harmony to fly to Atlantis, but it is entertaining nonetheless.
As much as I liked changing things up, I hated it as well. While most family friendly games tend to stick with one concept throughout an entire game, it could have helped Spongebob's Atlantis adventure. I felt myself wanting to do more in the stages than I was allowed, for example; I couldn't jump in several levels. This hindrance became extremely annoying in later levels. Moreover, changing things every level to something different decreases the accessibility to the game. If you are great on the musical parts and not so much the strategic elements then you might want to bring a few friends along to help you out. Another complaint involves the length of the stages. Sometimes you will play for what appears to be forever, while others are over before they even begin. The main problem here isn't the length itself; it is the drastic change from stage to stage. This may cause some players to lose interest quickly, therefore halting them from trudging on to finish a level.