After Super Mario 64 laid the blueprint for how a platforming game could work in 3D, it seemed like every developer rushed out to make their own 3D platformer. Those early years that followed were filled with games that showed the growing pains of defining the genre. Typically the biggest wart was a terrible camera, but eventually things smoothed out and 3D platformers came into their own. During the early 2000s and the next generation of consoles, 3D platformers became a mainstay on the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Gamecube, with colorful characters and mainstream IPs featuring in their very own 3D platforming adventures.
One of the products of that time was SpongeBob Squarepants. A bonafide household name due to the animated show, SpongeBob was also the star of countless shovelware video games on every gaming platform imaginable. However, 2003 saw the release of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, a 3D platformer for the home consoles of the time that actually wasn’t terrible. It’s a “collect-a-thon" style platformer meaning you’d need to explore every nook and cranny finding various items that would allow you to move further and further into the game. While noteworthy for not being total garbage like most licensed games, Battle for Bikini Bottom didn’t really do anything groundbreaking in the 3D platforming genre. It was just… pretty good.
In recent years there has been a resurgence in collect-a-thon platformers (You can probably think Yooka-Laylee for that) as well as a penchant for bringing back some of these old time-y platformers in remastered fashion for modern consoles. Due to this and due to the cult-classic status that Battle for Bikini Bottom has attained over the years, Purple Lamp Studios and THQ Nordic have given the remastering treatment to the game in the form of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated!, released on consoles and PC last year and brought over to iOS this week thanks to the folks at THQ Nordic in-house mobile developer HandyGames.
So, is it good? Well yes, but there are caveats. Despite its shiny new coat of paint (an extremely gorgeous, colorful, and dead-on depiction of the SpongeBob universe I should add) the bones of this one are very much still a game from 2003. If you enjoyed games like Banjo-Kazooie, Jak and Daxter, Rayman 2, Psychonauts, or the Spyro series back in the day then chances are you’ll love Rehydrated! whether you played the original version or not. If your fondness for 3D platformers lies in more modern designs, then you might play this and wonder what all the fuss is about.
For a fantastic opinion on what a fan of the original game thinks about Rehydrated! you should definitely read our own community moderator Metalcasket’s review in our forums, as he totally nails the highs and lows of this release from every angle. Also if you’re just a huge SpongeBob nut and/or you want something laid back you can play with your kids, I can’t imagine you won’t be smiling ear to ear playing through Rehydrated! with its fantastic visuals, voice-acting, and general humor. It really is like a long interactive 3D episode of SpongeBob complete with a silly original storyline.
While I don’t think it’ll appeal to everyone, I’m glad SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated! has made its way to iOS, as it’s kind of rare nowadays to see a fully premium product with this kind of content and production values on mobile. HandyGames has also done an excellent job adapting it for the touchscreen, with multiple control options as well as physical controller support, not to mention numerous graphical settings. Performance-wise this version puts the Nintendo Switch version to shame, to be honest. For this particular flavor of 3D platformer, and for less than ten bucks no less, it’s hard to go wrong with the iOS version of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated! and I think that deems it worthy as our Game of the Week.