Please note that this game has been reviewed as a Children's title as that is whom the game is aimed at. The comments and score are not directly comparable with other PS2 reviews on this site
You've got to hand it to Nickelodeon. They just seem to be able to come up with character after character and not only that, every single one of them seem to be quite watchable even for adults. Spongebob Squarepants is a character you wouldn't expect to succeed on childrens television, but it seems that this is one of Nickelodeons premiere franchises as it has managed to get a feature film created for it. Along with this THQ have developed a platform game and while it's probably easy to dismiss this as a kids title, its one of the better platform games that we have played for quite some time, even for adults.
The storyline revolves around King Neptune having his jewels stolen by Plankton, a competitor to the food shop that Spongebob is employed at. Plankton frames Mr Krabs, the owner of the store for stealing the jewels and proceeds to sell Krabby Patties with a gift. The gift is a mind control device and the unaware civilians of the sea wear these and proceed to try and kill Spongebob and Patrick. So the storyline revolves around proving Mr Krabs is innocent, and taking out Plankton once and for all, well until the next episode or film.
As mentioned before the game is a platform game and really that's to be expected but there is one reason that this excels at what it does - it's not very complex. Of course this can be expected due to the fact it's aimed at children but even so the lack of complexity makes it enjoyable to play, even for adults. Basically you have a number of tasks in each level to complete so you can win a coin. As you progress through the levels small games are unlocked to win coins, and this encourages exploration because some of the games can be hard to find on the map. The game doesn't even turn into a mass collection race either which is good. Most of the time you just move from point A to point B unlocking small games to complete. There is some variation however with boss fights and some great rally style driving in a Krabby Patty and Bath Tub.
Another great aspect of this game is that the levels can be replayed anytime. You don't receive more coins for doing so but if you get stuck then you can go back to something that was great, rather than get frustrated. This is no doubt a welcome option for parents who just can't get past an area. This also is somewhat required to gain more coins. Normally we'd call this artificially extending the game but due to the fact that the levels are quite fun, and different each time, then that would be quite an unfair comment to make on this particular game. The coins are used to unlock moves for Spongebob and Patrick (you play as either one during levels). These moves are crucial to moving forward in the game. For instance in one level Patrick has to smash the ground to progress, without enough coins you can't buy the ability to do so.
The game captures the characters quite well in terms of how they act in the film and on TV. Spongebob seems to be the smart one but can joke around sometimes, while Patrick just seems to loaf around getting himself out of trouble with his sheer body power. They also animate extremely well during the game, there is no doubt that the design values are on par with the best platformers out there such as Jak 3 and even games like Super Mario.
The level design is another reason the game is so hard to put down. Despite the restriction of being under the sea the developers have managed to create some truly great levels such as the Bath Tub hurtling down some rocks. Each level is quite different; sometimes you will be in the middle of the city and sometimes in a very remote place. Along with this, despite the fact the game is completely in 3D, the artists have kept the cartoon style of the show and game well. The characters animate well and as you would expect, humor is all part and parcel of the game. The game completely follows the storyline of the film and with this you would expect some scenes from the film and yes they are there, but only in still format which is a disappointment. One thing which really helps the authenticity of the game is the voice acting. They are either the real people, or extremely good backups.
Spongebob Squarepants Movie is a game that may be ignored because of its background as a children's TV show. Despite the fact that it is not a complex game and easy to play, some older players will get a kick out of it because of this. A game which can be played by both adults and kids who want a simple, cute experience to watch time fly while their having fun.