It’s been 8 years since a new SpongeBob Squarepants game landed on consoles, but luckily SpongeBob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake is here to break the dry spell. Developed by Purple Lamp Studios – who also worked on the recent remaster of Battle for Bikini Bottom – this 3D platformer and action game sticks to the formula that made the SpongeBob games of previous decades so popular. At a mid-tier price point, The Cosmic Shake offers an alluring adventure, but does it live up to expectations?
Across the SpongeBob-Verse
The Cosmic Shake gathers all of your favorite characters from the SpongeBob universe and sets them on a wild adventure, including (but not limited to): SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Sandy, Plankton, Mr. Krabs, Larry, and so many more. After SpongeBob angers King Neptune by using a mystical bottle of bubble soap purchased from a shady merchant named Madame Kassandra, Bikini Bottom is sucked through an interdimensional portal and displaced across several different realities.
In a tale that’s appropriately ridiculous for the brand, SpongeBob must jump through time and space to restore his home. Most of the original cast from the cartoon return to voice their roles, with Tom Kenny still nailing it as SpongeBob and Bill Fagerbakke excelling as Patrick. The Cosmic Shake expertly captures the tone and humor of the cartoon, sprinkling in references to specific episodes.
Additionally, the various wacky settings are put to good use in the story, with each level feeling like a self-contained episode of the cartoon. Coupled with decent cutscenes and lively dialogue, the narrative suits the laidback adventure well.
Teaching an Old Sponge New Tricks
While there are plenty of new bells and whistles on The Cosmic Shake, the game doesn’t stray too far from the formula that was established in SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 20 years ago. Starting in a small hub world, you’ll jump into several self-contained, linear levels, where you collect thousands of globs of cosmic jelly as you tackle platforming challenges and a few simple puzzles. Each level stands out through its thematic flair, like the Wild West Jellyfish Fields, Pirate Goo Lagoon, and Halloween Rock Bottom.
It’s not all just jumping around and collecting goodies, as cosmic jelly foes attempt to prevent your progress. In addition to your standard spin attack and ground pound, you’ll learn new moves and abilities as you beat levels, but the combat stays relatively simple throughout. However, the climactic end-of-stage boss fights might give you a run for your money.
Brief but fun mini-games shake up the pacing in some stages and simple “go find these hidden items” side-quests encourage repeat visits to old levels, but there’s not a ton else here to unpack. You can trade in your amassed cosmic jelly for new costumes, which are hilariously awesome. Unfortunately, while the visuals look colorful and clear, frame rate problems and other technical bugs often result in annoyance. The inconsistency between levels in this regard shows a slight lack of polish, but luckily, most of the game is fun enough that you shouldn’t be too bothered.
The Bottom Line on SpongeBob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake
SpongeBob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake might not be the triple-A game that mega-fans were wanting after nearly a decade of waiting, but it’s a fun platforming adventure in the same vein as its predecessors. While it’s not as inspired as SpongeBob Squarepants: The Battle for Bikini bottom, the goofy vibes and eclectic mix of level themes keep it from being cookie-cutter.
Even with the trademark technical hiccups that come with its mid-tier price, SpongeBob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake is a competent platformer and a worthy spiritual successor to cult classics of the past. For fans that are hungry for a new SpongeBob game, it should hit the spot. Offering 7 – 10 hours of decent gameplay in an absurd underwater world, The Cosmic Shake is a charming experience with only a few grievances of note.
Note: This game was reviewed on Xbox Series X with a code provided by the publisher.
- Zany humor and story that fits with the show
- A pleasing variety of platforming, combat, and mini-games
- Each level has an evocative theme
- Gameplay bugs that may require you to restart a checkpoint
- Inconsistent frame rate from level to level
- Side-quests are mostly of the fetch quest variety