Ooooooh, who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants! Whose videogame antics aren't really for me? SpongeBob SquarePants!
Yes, SpongeBob SquarePants, the...eh...the square sea sponge who wears pants, is back for another bite at the video game cherry and, well, it's very much a case of us having seen it all before, we're afraid. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is a very mediocre platforming adventure, a resolutely old-school effort that blasts you through seven short levels with absolutely nothing in the way of invention, surprises or novelty to cushion the blow of how short the whole thing is.
If you've played SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom you'll pretty much know the score here. This is a very old-hat kinda thing, a 90s platformer effort that sets up a lazy story then punts you through a handful of hackneyed levels that couldn't be more rote.
But let's try to be nice for a bit, eh? SpongeBob's home town is thrown into chaos when he rubs a genie's lamp and makes some very silly wishes, heralding the arrival of a pantomime baddie who has both SpongeBob and a balloon version of Patrick jump through portals to collect cosmic jelly for her own nefarious purposes. Try to be nice. Trying to be nice...let's see...there are a lot of costumes to collect! That's something. When the game ends you can revisit levels to hoover up...stuff. Hmmm. Yeah that's us all out of nice really.
Anyway, yes, there's just a very lazy setup to the whole thing and what it means for you, the player, is a jaunt through some of the most generic nonsense we've played in a very long time. Fancy a bland wild west level? A little dullard movie set action? A very un-scary haunted Halloween chapter? It's all here, there's zero reasoning behind any of it and every single new area plays out in exactly the same way. SpongeBob isn't exactly Mario, that's for sure, with fiddly platforming, no repercussions upon death and dull combat against braindead purple enemies who pose absolutely zero threat. Look, we know it's primarily aimed at kids, but make an effort, kids can deal with a lot stiffer challenges and more interesting level design than this cookie cutter nonsense.
The thing is with licensed games like this, they nail the look and feel of the TV show, they've got the voice actors and the graphics down, so it's hard not to get a little excited about it all, but then you stand back and fully realise just how bare minimum it all is. Level after level of naff platforming, all of it barely managing to keep you focused on moving forward, just trudging through, jumping here, swinging there, punching a few stupid enemies and then it's all over.
There are a handful of boss battles, all excruciating. You'll fight a giant Gary, which should be hilarious but they've managed to make it unenjoyable, and then the game ends after five hours. Yeah, five hours. That's it. Well, you can replay levels to collect everything, but why would you? SpongeBob seems like the kind of cartoon property that could really benefit from a South Park style RPG, something that really digs into its off-kilter humour and characters, but unfortunately all fans are getting here is the most generic, cookie-cutter platformer nonsense imaginable.
Oh, and there's performance issues too. This is not a great looking game by any means, but even on Series X, every time there's a decent amount of action on your screen, expect stutters and janky framerates, expect enough slowdown that it affects your ability to make the next jump or swing into another flat, bland space full of moronic, pink jelly foes. Performance improvements are at least planned post-launch, so hopefully this'll improve pretty soon.
Let's wrap it up. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is a lazy, generic platformer. It's five hours of content that feels like it was made by people who watched some footage of a bad 90s platformer and decided that was how they wanted to proceed. This writer's kids love SpongeBob, they were done with this game in about ten minutes.