SpongeBob SquigglePants 3D Review for Nintendo 3DS

SpongeBob SquigglePants 3D Review for Nintendo 3DS

Microgames Take a Dive.

Does the 3DS version of SpongeBob SquigglePants work any better than its Wii counterpart? My short answer is yes and no. While the controls are better suited for the already successful touchscreen template of the DS as opposed to the limited functionality of the uDraw peripheral for the Wii, the content and fun factor are exactly the same. However, there are many issues with the 3DS version that bring down the overall value.

SpongeBob SquigglePants 3D Screenshot

The game takes place in a typical suburban ranch house (as illustrated by its always-present still image on the bottom screen during cinematic cutscenes.) Here we find Patchy the Pirate, president of the SpongeBob SquarePants fan club, who is eager to showcase his collection of SpongeBob artwork. However, to unveil all the paintings, you must prove your worth to Patchy by completing a series of nanogames (a derivative of the WarioWare microgames) in six visually distinct pieces of art. All the cinematics are live-action, with actor Tom Kenny reprising his role as Patchy for the game. While his character stays to true to the not-so-authentic pirate like demeanor from the cartoon series, the script work, with the blatant misuse of slang terminology, will have all but hardcore fans of the series shaking their heads and crying foul.

SpongeBob followers will happily find all the main characters and some recurring characters present. SpongeBob, Patrick, Gary, Sandy, Plankton, Squidward, and Mr. Krabs are all here. Although they have no dialogue, all are animated according to their own respective temperaments.

After the introduction, you’re free to dive into a nanogame series or check out some of the other features. There is a Movie tab that allows you to view any unlocked cinematics throughout the course of the game. The Tutorial has Patchy giving you a crash course on all the combinations used to tackle the minigames. It’s basically just a lecture on the controls, all of which are straightforward enough that they don’t particularly require a tutorial to begin with. It’s all rather superfluous—perhaps just an excuse to give Patchy more dialogue.

SpongeBob SquigglePants 3D Screenshot

The Options screen allows you to adjust the music and sound levels, but there is no indicator effect when adjusting the sound, so the only way to find your preferred setting is through trial and error. I wouldn’t normally critique something as seemingly inconsequential as the options menu, but it’s this type of minor issue that could have easily been fixed by to make this a more polished game. Even during the level select screen, I was often confused as to which frame was highlighted, as scrolling the selections proved to be inconsistent.

The Art Levels are where you’ll be pitted against a series of nanogames, trying to complete twenty before failing five times. Each is only a few seconds long, with tempo increases at certain milestones. After successfully completing a level, a new painting is unveiled by Patchy. You also have the option of redoing the completed board, trying to attain a medal by successfully completing a designated number of nanogames: bronze at fifteen, silver at twenty-five, and gold at thirty-five. Doing this unlocks separate minigames, which are basically elongated versions of specific nanogames. Striving to reach the goal is where you’ll garner the most enjoyment. Trying to complete the final few with only one life remaining causes all sorts of anxiety, but that just makes it that much more satisfying when you finally hit your mark. The downside is that the fun ends way too soon. You’ll be shocked when the credits roll after less than an hour of gameplay. Even though there are over a hundred nanogames, none of them will hold your interest for very long, and you’ll find replaying boards and tackling individual games for medals more of a chore than anything else.

SpongeBob SquigglePants 3D Screenshot

Before you undertake a particular nanogame, you are shown what control type is required and also given a hint about your objective. The Tap, Draw, Drag, Flick, and Hold methods all utilize the touchscreen, while Slide uses the Circle Pad, and Tilt/Shake incorporates the accelerometer and the gyroscope. The controls and how they translate to the various games are not without their flaws, apparent in the fact that you’ll generally fail in your first attempt to complete a new level. While the objective hints offer a glimmer of how to complete the nanogame, you’ll often be left scratching your head while the timer quickly ticks down to zero. My most frustrating nanogame required me to “center” a camera lens, but there was no indication as to where on the picture of Mr. Krabs holding a hamburger in front of his Krusty Krab restaurant I was supposed to point. The tilting mechanism, paired with the 3D effect, has perplexed critics since the features were first revealed. These two ideas cannot possibly coexist in the same game. During the minigames that still try to use this inexplicable combination, you’ll be forced to suffer through blurred screens while you shake or tilt the 3DS. However, considering the brevity of the nanogames and how easy it is to find that “sweet spot,” most gamers won’t take issue with this.

It’s difficult to classify the games themselves as fun. At a mere few seconds in length, they’re hard to get an inkling towards, which leaves it to overall aesthetic to make an impression. With only six levels, the variety of styles is limited, but the ones chosen are distinctly different from one another. You’ll see a sketch style and comic book games, as well as a suspense movie scene and even some pixelated 8-bit forms. I was a little disappointed, however, with the rather tame imagery. Given the somewhat lewd nature of the SpongeBob brand, I half-expected a mirror of the coarse display from the WarioWare series. But SpongeBob SquigglePants stays firmly planted in the family-friendly territory.

SpongeBob SquigglePants 3D Screenshot

Against the majority who are anxious to see the full power of the 3D effect, I have played enough of the launch titles to conclude that subtlety of this effect is much more satisfying and less straining on the eyes. SpongeBob SquigglePants has chosen the minimalist route, giving depth to the backgrounds of the nanogames instead of pushing the envelope. Since there is very little animation within the framework of the games, you’ll never feel overwhelmed with a flurry of disorientation. Feel free to crank that 3D slider to the max.

Since you’re constantly playing against a timer, it’s no surprise that the music follows suit. Each level, with its own ambience, has appropriate music, all carrying a percussive beat to keep you following the rhythm as you progress. The beat is especially important when the tempo changes. All of the tunes fit the SpongeBob universe, and I’ll admit I was tempted to purchase a kazoo after playing this game. However, the tracks are overly repetitive, which I realize also fits the style of game, but they’re hard to tolerate for lengthy play sessions.

Short bursts is the recipe for your enjoyment of this game. While you may finish the game quickly, you’ll still find plenty of minigame medals to earn gold in, and even a doodle pad in the game’s Art Studio to test your creativity with. The forty-dollar price tag is certainly steep for a game so bereft of content, but fans of SpongeBob or microgaming on the go will find this one easy to pick up for quick and intense action.

The subtle 3D effect and different art styles showcase the SpongeBob universe in many colorful ways. I only wish there were more art levels to gawk at. 3.5 Control
Simple controls for quick games, and a good use of all the 3DS control types. The in-game explanations are severely lacking though. 2.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
A distinct music style which blends the SpongeBob series with the particular level motif. The music is repetitive, and becomes intolerable after only a short period. 2.5 Play Value
While good in short bursts, there still isn’t enough content to make this game worth the retail price. It would have been better suited as a downloadable DSiWare-type game. 3.1 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • In SpongeBob’s most crazy, creative adventure yet, be prepared to laugh your SquigglePants off as you tilt, flick, tap and draw through more than 100 Nanogames set in six zany worlds.
  • SpongeBob SquigglePants puts you in the driver’s seat for a dizzying series of lightening-speed Nanogames, giving you mere seconds to finish one before moving right on to the next.
  • With this rapid-fire succession of challenges, SpongeBob SquigglePants exposes players to never-before-seen SpongeBob art styles from the Nickelodeon vault.
  • The entire game is hosted by SpongeBob’s biggest fan, Patchy the Pirate, in a never-before-seen live-action experience for an added level of under-the-sea silliness.

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