STAFF REVIEW of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake (Xbox One)

Monday, January 30, 2023.
by Kirsten Naughton

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake Box art Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Spongebob Squarepants of course! THQ Nordic and Purple Lamp are BACK since their first title, Battle for Bikini Bottom, released on January 21, 2020. I remember reviewing Battle for Bikini Bottom and enjoying it, so when I saw Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake releasing, I jumped for joy. I’ve loved Spongebob Squarepants since I was a little kid, and even being a full blown adult now, that love for him hasn’t changed at all. The excitement I had for booting up The Cosmic Shake for the first time was unbearable, I couldn’t wait. The memories of Battle for Bikini Bottom and how I felt about it were a little more mixed than I would have liked. Will Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake really shake up things for the better or is it just going to be a slight fizz? Come on into my pineapple, let’s talk!

Have you ever made a decision that you soon realized came back to haunt you? I’m pretty sure all of us, myself included, have made a big mistake in our lives that we then had to face the consequences and clean up our mess we had made. If you’re familiar with the TV show, Spongebob is infamous for having brilliant ideas and it turning into absolute chaos, usually needing his friends to help him get out of trouble. Luckily for you, in Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake, Spongebob has made a few too many wishes and has quite literally shaken up Bikini Bottom and displaced his friends in the cosmic atmosphere. As you can tell, once again, Spongebob has done it once more, this time it’s our job to clean up the mess. Thankfully, Madam Kassandra is here to help guide us along to assist in restoring Bikini Bottom. The first impressions of Kassandra is that she’s willing to help you, but I’ll talk about her later after I finished the main story.

How do you save Bikini Bottom you may ask yourself? You’ll collect cosmic jelly, coins and free your friends. Sounds simple, right? That’s where you’re wrong. There are seven worlds for you to enter while playing minus the main hub, Bikini Bottom. Each world has a certain theme attached to it that makes it unique. For example, one world is the Wild Wild West and a Deserted Island, but I will only say a couple because I don’t want to spoil much more than that. I will tell you though, once you go through and unlock the new worlds, you’ll know why I kept the rest a secret. I was very impressed with not only the level layout, but the gameplay length of the world. They are at minimum about an hour or so, not including the end boss battle. Now for some, that may not be enough. Personally, I found the length perfect. It means I’m able after a long day of work to complete a world in one sitting and still have some of my evening left.

One thing I enjoyed about the worlds is that there were several main quests within each. Much of it is maneuvering around, but sometimes you’ll have to collect things in the surrounding area or save people from being stuck somewhere. Fairly basic, but I’m not going to lie to you, the challenge I experienced with The Cosmic Shake versus Battle for Bikini Bottom was quite significant. Before you panic though, it’s a good challenge. All the worlds generally come with a new skill you learn that will make Spongebob open new areas or reach things that he couldn’t have before. For example, my favourite is the Karate Kick. All of the skills you will learn are interactive and depend on you hitting the correct button in time. This isn’t one of my strong suits, but a lot of your time within The Cosmic Shake universe is some light platforming.

It’s not nearly as refined as some AAA titles out there today that require you to be on your top tier game. However, the platforming does come with some challenge that requires you to focus on where you are and what you’re landing on. I found that even though I struggled a little bit with the platforming, I was able to get through the area without much of a hassle. Most of the hassle to be honest was more than likely me. Let’s be real. The boss battles are as hard as you make them. Typically in each world, the boss battle revolves around the skills you have learned in that particular world and previous. It’s a smart move on the developers part because it makes me want to practice the skills before the boss fights and ensure I know how to use them effectively. I won’t tell you who the bosses are, because that’s a critical main part of the story - sorry.

Earlier, I touched on this thing called “Cosmic Jelly”. What is it you may ask? They are little pink balls of jelly. This will be used as your main form of currency. I have to say, I was a little surprised at how little I used the jelly considering the amount of it I collected through my first playthrough. The main thing you use your jelly for is buying costumes and there are numerous costumes you can buy to customize SpongeBob. Before you go into one of the worlds to play, Kassandra will give you a costume that you are to wear in the world. There are about 30 costumes for you to collect. It's is one of those things that didn’t have to be there but is a cute idea and I do get the concept. It’s fun to collect them and wear them all over the place, but it’s purely you’re discretion if you unlock them. It would have been nice if there was a purpose for them besides collection, but this is purely a nitpick and personal preference. The Cosmic Jelly I collected mostly sat unused throughout my gameplay and still does post main game. I’m surprised I didn’t have to fork out thousands of Cosmic Jellies to get the worlds unlocked or to give Kassandra an amount to bribe her somehow.

There’s another thing you can collect while in your playthrough. I call them 'coins' but I can’t for the life of me remember what they are called in-game. Coins are also used to unlock costumes and used as XP to increase Spongebob’s level. This is another part of Cosmic Shake where an opportunity was missed. I’ll confess, I didn’t collect every single coin and I think I only got to level 4. That’s all the coins are used for. Not for unlocking different worlds, not for unlocking cool skills, and not included in the main story. You collect these coins by completing certain tasks such as using your skills in a timed environment having to get to point A to B. Most of the tasks aren’t very complicated. The other scenario is you defeat enemies and then a coin appears, simple stuff.

The enemies within The Cosmic Shake universe are pretty cool. They don’t have names, but their interactions with SpongeBob are quite unique to one another. One enemy is a beefed up body builder guy holding a silver bathtub on his back and he’ll do a couple moves to try to damage to you. Another enemy is a boxer that when you defeat him, turns into two little balls that attack and attach to you if you’re not fast enough. They come off fairly easily. One of my favourite enemies is the one that has a bazooka of sorts and shoots out white goo at you. One of my least favourite though was the worm underground. Gameplay doesn’t teach you how to defeat him, you’re just supposed to miraculously know how. Here’s a tidbit; Ground Pound is your best friend in this case. I was happily surprised that the enemies were so animated and really came at you in times, sometimes hoarding in on you or when a boss battle was on. Sometimes it was a struggle to defeat the enemies and a boss at the same time. But to my pleasant surprise, the gameplay didn’t miss a beat or lag.

Before I continue, I’ve always referred to my character as ‘SpongeBob’. Has anyone noticed that I haven’t mentioned Patrick? There’s a reason for that. In the chaos of The Cosmic Shake, Patrick became a balloon. The most he does is rescue you when you die or hands you underpants (lives) when you are at one life left. I’m not going to say that I’m upset because Patrick was a balloon, because during most of the story he was talking and interacting in the cutscenes being the normal Patrick we all know and love. I’m a little disappointed that Patrick wasn’t more of a sidekick than handing me underwear and being the one who drops me at my spawn point though. If he was given his own skills to aid SpongeBob on his journey to restoring Bikini Bottom, that could give it an extra level of excitement and emphasize that Patrick and SpongeBob have always been a great duo. The Cosmic Shake seems to be a SpongeBob solo this time though with Patrick floating beside you saying quirky Patrick things.

When I finished the main game the first question I wondered while watching the credits was ‘Can I still play my save file after playing the main story?’. I was curious if I’d be able to continue collecting coins. After the credits roll, you get teleported into Bikini Bottom as if nothing happened and you had watched a cutscene. The main story was done but you could go in and out of worlds at your leisure, even able to choose what area you wanted to teleport to because during the main story you couldn’t do that. This of course makes completing side quests much easier. To be honest, there are a couple worlds that I didn’t want anything to do with after I completed them. Not because they were bad or poorly made, I just didn’t enjoy them as much as others.

In terms of graphics, it’s a lightyear’s difference in terms of comparing to Battle for Bikini Bottom. Maybe that’s because I had an Xbox One S back then and now have a Series S now, but regardless, graphics and detail are impeccable. Bright, fun, engaging and depending on the world you’re in, the colours and mood change depending on the situation. I’m blown away at how good The Cosmic Shake looks. I appreciate when graphics don’t take a backseat. In terms of audio, it’s pretty standard SpongeBob Squarepants background noise. It also tends to change depending where you are just like the visuals. The humour within the main story is typical SpongeBob material you'd come to expect, so I’m glad they didn’t change that up. If something isn’t broken, you don’t fix it.

There’s no denying that THQ Nordic and Purple Lamp did a fantastic job on SpongeBob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake, as it shows in its gameplay. The graphics have levelled up since the last title, the music is still awesome and the characters within Bikini Bottom haven’t changed a bit. From Squidward being grumpy, Patrick being a little clueless, to Spongebob having a happy and quirky demeanour. In terms of the coins and the jelly, it’s a personal preference and not a deal breaker, but it needs to be noted how THQ Nordic and Purple Lamp chose to utilize them. Not having other ways to spend your jelly and coins was a missed opportunity, though others may not be bothered by it at all. The vibes, graphics, gameplay and the loveable characters will always have me returning to Bikini Bottom. Gimme that Cosmic Jelly, I’m going to become a Jellionaire!

**SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series S**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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