SpongeBob

A rehydrated version brings the excellent ‘SpongeBob’ game — including its rough edges — to modern consoles. 

OOOOHHHHHHH.

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

Ah, just writing those words gets that infectious jingle ringing through my head, bringing back a rush of nostalgia from the madcap world of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

With, well, everything going on, I’ve been finding a lot of comfort and peace in revisiting — or even experiencing for the first time — fun and familiar media that reminds me of goofing around with my brothers on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

And when I saw the remaster of the 2003 release of “SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom” in the PlayStation store, adding “Rehydrated” to the title, I had to give it a shot. While I have played a lot of games like “Battle for Bikini Bottom,” I had never had the chance to play it, but my partner has fond memories of playing it with her siblings so we’ve been playing through, taking turns exploring the world and working through challenges.

“Battle for Bikini Bottom” fits into the genre of collect-a-thon platformers that give players a big, exciting world filled with a ton of things to collect by putting your jumping, platforming, exploration and puzzle-solving skills to the test. It’s probably not entirely surprising that the video game industry has largely moved on from this genre in favor of first-person shooters and competitive multiplayer games.

In “Battle for Bikini Bottom,” you’ll be playing through all the memorable scenes from the show, making challenging jumps and battling a bunch of evil robots build by Plankton in his latest ill-fated attempt to take over Bikini Bottom. You’ll be hunting down golden spatulas, Patrick’s socks and a variety of other things that characters have lost around each map.

Playing “Bikini Bottom” now makes me appreciate the variation in gameplay that you’ll find in games like this. There’s just a lot to do, a lot of ways to approach each level and a big variety of challenges that lends itself particularly well to passing the controller back and forth (even if I have to be reminded to share a few times).

But quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality.

There’s definitely some rough edges of “Battle for Bikini Bottom” that make me appreciate what nearly 20 years of innovation has brought to video games. At least on the PlayStation 4, there’s noticeable lag between when you press the jump or hit button and the action that make some of the jumps particularly challenging. Judging distances in 3D games is already hard enough without the funky controls.

It’s also a real pain that falling in goo — the under-the-sea version of water — will typically result in an automatic death and frustratingly send you back to the loading screen. There are plenty of checkpoints, but the loading time even on a PS4 Pro can be a real killer.

While I wish “Rehydrated” polished some of those rough edges, the updated graphics are excellent.

Also new to the game is a co-op multiplayer mode where you can team up and battle through waves of enemies. The mode is, frankly, pretty disappointing. It’s neat to be able to give all of the playable characters a spin but this mode lacks much of the charm — and, perhaps most critically, the voice acting — from the single player mode. It’s weird to be going to battle with a giant mechanized Squidward with a completely silent SpongeBob and Patrick.

It leaves the mode feeling tacked on, which it is, but it’s a shame that they weren’t able to repurpose some of the many, many voice lines from the single player mode.

Still, our time with “SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom — Rehydrated,” especially passing the controller back and forth on a lazy Saturday afternoon, is exactly what I needed right now.

Matt Buxton is a freelance writer and gamer. He can be reached at matt.a.buxton@gmail.com.

IF YOU PLAY

Game: SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC

Price: $30

Release Date: June 23, 2020

ESRB Rating: Everyone