SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake Review (PS5)
I’m ready! I’m ready!
Publisher: THQ Nordic
I love Spongebob and I was born at the perfect time as I grew up with the early seasons of the show. I watched it a ton as a kid, as you can guess, and I still find myself watching it if it’s an episode from my childhood as they still hold up after all these years (and yes, are still the best episodes). Though, I didn’t end up playing any of the Spongebob games that came out aside from the one based on the movie.
While I didn’t write a review for it at the time, I did end up buying Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated. I didn’t play the original release, but I had a lot of fun with the remake to the point that I 100% the game. And this was before the patch that lowered the amount of shinies needed to buy Golden Spatulas from Mr. Krabs (yes, I farmed for shinies for hours). I can’t speak for those that can compare the original BFBB with Rehydrated, but I did think Purple Lamp did a good job recreating the game and I really wanted them to be given the opportunity to make their own original Spongebob game. So you can imagine how happy I was when The Cosmic Shake was announced. I was still a bit iffy, but after watching the release date trailer I just had to get it as it looked really good. So how did it turn out?
The Cosmic Shake starts out with Spongebob waking up bright and early so him and his best friend Patrick can go to Glove World. Though a little bit too early as Patrick has yet to wake up so he wanders around to find out that not only has there been a wreck, blocking traffic to the Krusty Krab, but Mr. Krabs and Plankton are arguing. Though, that doesn’t concern Spongebob as much as he helps Sandy while waiting for Patrick to finally wake up. They both mostly have a good day at Glove World, but after being rejected by some cool kids and getting sad, Spongebob comes across a particular caravan that suddenly appeared right in front of them. You are then greeted by the very mermaid the caravan belongs to: Madame Kassandra! She sells Spongebob some magical bubble soap that she says grants wishes. It sounds like a scam, but Spongebob loves blowing bubbles, so he buys it.
Spongebob goes home and immediately begins to use it. First to make a wish for Patrick as he wants to be a balloon then for others as he wishes for them to get what he knows they want. Spongebob uses up all of the magical bubble soap and this is when everyone wished it was a scam as all this wishing backfires. Basically tearing holes into the fabric of the universe, leaking Cosmic Jelly into the world for anyone to collect, and causing a lot of people to be sucked into strange Wishworlds. So throughout the game, you’ll be going into a total of seven Wishworlds that give a theme to various areas of Bikini Bottom; with Conch Street, expanded and scrambled by the magic bubble soap being the game’s hub.
There are seven Wishworlds for you to go into through a portal, but there’s a catch. You won’t be able to go into a portal without a corresponding costume. Madame Kassandra is nice enough to create these costumes for you out of jelly, once you get enough that is. Once you get into it, gameplay is simple and familiar if you played BFBB Rehydrated. You’ll be platforming through each world, which from the most part is well done and I didn’t have a problem with it; grabbing jelly and hitting tikis to grab that precious jelly, and fighting the jelly enemies that spawn in. You do need to try to keep your health up, showcased by underwear, but you’re not as punished by dying as you’re just put at the last checkpoint. As you continue through the story, you’ll come across different enemy types that will attack you differently and require you to approach them differently to defeat them. Like the big guys that require you to wait until they’re struggling to pick up their bathtub weapon or the floating jelly enemy hitting jelly projectiles at you like she’s playing tennis. Spongebob will also get abilities to help him out as you progress, letting you blow bubbles that can hit targets (encasing enemies in a bubble temporarily if it’s targetted at them), and swinging from hooks to name a few.
Oh and did I mention Balloon Patrick? He accompanies you throughout your whole adventure. I love the banter Spongebob and Balloon Patrick get into, though I’m not quite sure what he does gameplay wise. He does bring in underwear when you only have one left, but he disappears quite a bit (which made me wish he was around more) and while he does seem to go to where your task is (which isn’t that useful), I can’t really tell if he leads you to collectibles. When I tried to test him out, sometimes he acts like he’s leading you to a collectible and sometimes he doesn’t and just leads you to nothing.
While you will of course be fighting the jelly monsters, collecting jelly, and finding secrets in every Wishworld, The Cosmic Shake does attempt to make each different from one another. And I’m not just talking about the story content and theming in each. You are actually given different tasks for you to do and interacting with different characters. There are even some minigames put in and drawings that do a close-up of characters which was pretty cool to see, though some of them are pretty gross. Not to mention all the references sprinkled in. The boss fights even take on the “let’s try not to do something twice” design philosophy as each will have you defeat the boss in different ways. Including not even fighting the boss as it may have you chasing them down to catch them or smashing something. though, I am a bit disappointed that the first Wishworld you go to, Wild West Jellyfish Fields, doesn’t have a boss considering how much it warns you against a bullworm.
Once you finish up what you need to do and bring in the character that is the one that belongs in your Bikini Bottom, as some do appear in multiple Wishworlds, not only will Madame Kassandra give you the next costume, but the jelly (or goo? jelly goo?) is cleaned up and part of the Wishworld is brought into Conch Street. Bringing in the assumption that while the portals will disappear, the memory will forever be physical in Bikini Bottom.
In terms of difficulty, it’s easy as you’d expect a Spongebob game to be, but it does increase in certain parts in the story. There are also challenges for you to do if you want to, which can be pretty hard. There are timed challenges that you’ll be able to do once you get the needed ability (or after finishing the Wishworld) and a lot of the achievements are practically challenges. For example, having you complete a boss without taking damage or defeating enemies in a certain way (which also gives you ways to defeat them alternatively which was nice).
The start of the game is pretty awkwardly written, but it does get better as you get further into the game. I’m just convinced that maybe the writers just had a difficult time figuring out how to start the game as it does get better once you get further into the game. I also have to say that I love Madame Kassandra. I love her design, her voice, and how totally not suspicious she is.
I also personally really liked how The Cosmic Shake was structured, but if you liked the nonlinear nature of BFBB, you’d probably be disappointed that it’s more linear this time around.
There are collectibles that you can aim to collect, though don’t expect it to be as much as BFBB’s collectibles. The first collectible, which you’ll get the most of, are doubloons which are mainly due to them being used to unlock costume tiers. Each Wishworld has doubloons hidden around either hanging out in a place you can get to by platforming or requiring you to have a specific ability to get to them. Once you get a specific amount, it’ll be autospent to unlock the next costume tier so you can see what they are and be able to buy them with the jelly you collected. I do wish you were able to choose the tier you want though. There are more doubloons than you need to unlock all the tiers, so you don’t have to collect all of them if you just want all the alternate costumes.
There are also side quests where you’ll be asked to find multiples of an item in a specific Wishworld and bring them back to the character that asked for them. Completing these will give you a doubloon. Golden Spatulas also make a comeback, but it seems there are only one in each Wishworld. Though, I didn’t find anywhere that the game acknowledges and logs them in. Actually, I don’t think the game keeps count of your completion percentage, only having an achievement for getting all the costumes, which is kind of a bummer.
I don’t recommend searching for collectibles in earnest until at least you have two Wishworlds left or you finish the game as a good chunk do require abilities that you won’t have when you first go into the world.
For the most part, The Cosmic Shake had good performance while I was playing on my PS5. However, the game did crash on me once when I was in the middle of a boss fight (luckily the game autosaves a lot so I loaded right back into the cutscene before the fight) and the game did frequently do a quick pause then skip frames. This messed me up a couple times and I’m guessing this has a chance of happening whenever the game autosaves. I also did encounter the audio replaying words at times, causing the lip sync to go out of sync and for dialogue to be interrupted; and there were places that had no music which I was pretty sure there were supposed to be (like I had no music during the final boss fight). These issues I came across do seem like it would be easy enough to fix and patch in though (assuming there’s not a Day One patch that implements fixes).
On a cuter note though, I really wished Balloon Patrick had story alternative costumes. One Wishworld gives him an alternate costume and it made me wish it was the same for the other six. Like imagine Balloon Patrick dressed up as a first mate or wearing joke glass (I would say dressed up as a ghost as it would be cute, but that wouldn’t be true to the Halloween episode).
Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake may have had an awkward start, but once the game gets fully into it’s premise it really does get better. It does have some issues that need to be ironed out, and there are some aspects some may not enjoy like it being more linear than BFBB, but the story is good and everyone is written well. I loved going to alternate versions of different places of Bikini Bottom and building up my ability arsenal to take out the various jelly enemies (which while some are annoying to deal with, I warmed up to as I played more). I had a lot of fun playing The Cosmic Shake, which is more evident considering that I ended up playing and finishing the game in one day. What can I say, I couldn’t stop playing aside from taking the occassional break.
I had about 10 hours in The Cosmic Shake where I just went through the main story with some collectible hunting if I noticed it was in my path. If you’re intending on getting all the collectibles and doing all the challenge achievements, this would add more hours to your playtime.