SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake Review in 3 Minutes Purple Lamp THQ Nordic

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake Review in 3 Minutes – Nostalgic but Middling

Recommended Videos

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake, developed by Purple Lamp and published by THQ Nordic, is a 3D collectathon platformer utterly soaked in nostalgia.

SpongeBob doesn’t feel cool anymore. His lack of self-esteem leads him directly to the magical thrift shop of the mermaid, Kassandra, where he buys a “unique bubble-maker-thingy.” He finds out the bubbles are actually King Neptune’s stolen property, but not before his good intentions lead him to make wholesome wishes for his friends and neighbors, inadvertently putting everyone in sticky danger. Kassandra, taking advantage of the chaos, instructs SpongeBob and Patrick to travel through the magical realms to gather magical jelly, save his friends, and restore Bikini Bottom.

The game’s initial setup is a little misleading. There are collectibles and secrets scattered around the main hub and within each magical realm, but you lack the means to gather most of them until you’ve progressed the story. The jelly you collect will always respawn when reloading the map, and they’re laid out far off the intended story route — so collecting things loses its significance pretty early on. Without the incentive to pick up the shiny jellies and doubloons, the level layouts feel too one-dimensional and cluttered for the sake of filling in the empty space, but the levels improve as you get deeper into the game. More verticality and mobility in the later stages give a nice pace to this jog down memory lane.

While the surfing, jumping, and gliding bring back good memories of previous installations, the inconsistent collision detection and fickle hook-swinging mechanics flinging you in the wrong direction make the game feel dated. Combat is the worst offender. The normal enemies are fine, but your sluggish spin attack has a habit of phasing through enemies you’re trying to slap out of the air. You can catch the flying foes with your bubble wand, but they also fly outside of the combat area with frustrating frequency.

After the first three zones are finished, the placement of enemy encounters seems to be more meaningful alongside the improved level layouts. Instead of enemies and structures being tossed around haphazardly, you can breeze through maps with one continuous chain of interspersed flying karate kicks, double jumps, hook swings, bubble surfboards, and pizza glides.

Even though the aesthetic of the game is meant to resemble a mermaid fever dream mashup of SpongeBob SquarePants memories, the back half of the game is stronger than the front half in terms of nostalgia-centric execution. The first few portals are crammed tight with self-referential humor and set pieces. The game relies on heavy-handed misdirection, like in the Alaskan Bull Worm boss arena, to hype up its moment-to-moment gameplay, only to throw mediocre minions and minigames your way. Later levels, like Glove World, choose a theme and perform through that theme. Here, the gameplay and story are fully capable of standing on their own.

Overall, the vocal performances, graphics, and music are enough to keep a SpongeBob veteran smiling for a few hours. The game hits all the old notes and clears the checklist to create a middling game for fans, but this feels like a step back compared to other collectathon platformers currently on the market. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake brings back memories, but it doesn’t make many of its own.

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is available now for $39.99 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake.

The Escapist is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Sebastian Ruiz
Sebastian Ruiz
Sebastian Ruiz joined The Escapist in June 2021, but has been failing his way up the video game industry for years. He went from being a voice actor, whose most notable credit is Felicia Day mistaking him for Matt Mercer in the game Vaporum, to a video editor with a ten-year Smite addiction, to a content creator for the aforementioned Hi-Rez MOBA, before focusing his attention on game development and getting into freelance QA. With a lack of direction, Sebastian sought out The Escapist as a place to work with like-minded individuals and fuel his ambitions. While he enjoys dabbling in all kinds of games to expand his horizons, even the worst roguelikes can get his attention.