At Gamescom last month we saw several interesting games for kids or for all audiences, including OG Games' Paw Patrol, Star Trek, and Dragons; Thunderful's Lego Bricktales, or Microids' Asterix and Obelix. But at THQ Nordic's booth there was one specific title that looked incredibly good, that is probably the most anticipated of them all, and that, surprisingly enough, doesn't have a release date yet. We're talking about Nickelodeon's Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake.
The platforming adventure looks like a Nintendo game, and we're eager to go hands-on with it to see if it also plays as good. Alas, the behind-closed-doors presentation we attended was hands-off, but nonetheless we used it to learn more about it and to talk to developer Purple Lamp's project manager Andreas Jarzabek.
But before getting into gameplay and content, there's but of course a wacky premise for all this:
"What basically happens at the beginning [is that] SpongeBob and Patrick find the [Wish-granting Mermaid's] magic bubble tears and they wish for all the nice things that they can have for their friends in Bikini Bottom and, as always, they overdo it", Jarzabek says about the spiritual successor to the Battle for Bikini Bottom. "They go for too many wishes, the wishes collide with each other, and basically they destroy the very fabric of reality, creating seven different wish worlds where all their friends from Bikini Bottom have been dragged into".
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Besides, this time around Patrick has a very important role, as he could be considered as "the Cappy" or "the Navi" in this adventure, if we stick to the Nintendo references.
"One of the wishes, as you can see, is that Patrick turns into a balloon, so he will be your best buddy throughout the whole game, being with SpongeBob, supporting him", the developer explains. "One of the things that Patrick will do for you is, if you drop off a ledge, he just flies there as a balloon, he grabs you and brings you back because he's your best friend, he's always there for you. And also, if you're low on health, he'll come into the battle, drop some health for you (which, as we always do, is the underpants). And he will assist you with directions".
But this is also used as a narrative device, as "it's also one of the major features that we have, the bantering between the two, because it's such an iconic and core element of the original series", Jarzabek continues. "And we've been super-lucky with all the assistance that we've got from Nickelodeon, having the original writers from the series helping us, jumping in, writing stuff for us, reviewing all those scripts."
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"The Nintendo Switch is still our lead platform, but that doesn't mean that we go for low quality. It's very important not to fall into that trap"
Then variety comes with the different episode-based themes used for each world and with the unlockables and collectibles that come with them. Settings include pirate, medieval, prehistoric, western... and of course Karate, based on the episode with Sandy, where players will unlock the Karate Kick ability. Together with this, there are 30+ costumes that can be unlocked through the campaign or via progression by using jelly currency, all themed too.
"If you go to the medieval level, you will have the Bard costume that your colleague has on her arm. I just love it, it's a very beautiful thing that happened!", a touched Jarzabek says about the tattoo inked on the arm of Gamereactor's very own camlady Natascha.
All in all it will be "8 hours of gameplay in total", not to mention "a big load of cutscenes with the original cast of voice actors". And this is what the developers say when asked why does the new SpongeBob adventure look better than other licensed games for kids:
"For us it was very important not to fall into this trap of 'it's just another license game'. We knew about the dangers there, so we wanted to give the players the look & feel they deserve for the game. The [Nintendo] Switch is still our lead platform, but that doesn't mean that we go for low quality when it comes to the Switch. We have a dedicated team that works on the optimisation for the platform and of course for all the other platforms too".
Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake seems to offer interesting platforming challenges, nice verticality, and smooth graphics, other than the aforementioned variety, content, and fan-service. So, when is it releasing? "You will get the answer soon, that's all I'm going to say!", the man from Purple Lamp laughs in the video.