SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake Review

Jumping jellyfish! SpongeBob's newest adventure fits like a glove hat

By Paul Hunter

Back in 2020, THQ Nordic and developer Purple Lamp Studios released the rather excellent SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated, a remake of the classic 3D platformer on PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube. Now the duo is back with an all-new adventure in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake. And the good news for fans: it's out of this world.

Let's pull up our underpants and get this interdimensional adventure underway, here are four things I liked about The Cosmic Shake...and one I didn't.

Liked: Hilarious Story and Dialogue

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake begins with our bubbly heroes SpongeBob and Patrick heading off for a trip to Glove World, when along the way they come across Madame Kassandra, a mermaid fortune-teller. She offers to sell the pair a vial of wish-granting Mermaid Tears, which of course they gleefully accept. Surely nothing can go wrong, right?

Well, SpongeBob and Patrick excitedly start blowing the bubble soap, asking for the silliest wishes and at first, it all seems like harmless fun. However, moments later rifts start appearing all over Bikini Bottom, sucking up citizens and beloved landmarks into different dimensions. It's up to our bumbling buddies to fix the cosmic catastrophe they've caused, so the two head off to rescue their friends and bring them home safely.

Kassandra, who definitely doesn't have ulterior motives, offers to help SpongeBob and Patrick (who's been turned into an adorable floating balloon) by outfitting our square yellow sponge pal with various silly costumes that'll allow him to pass through the dimensional rifts around Bikini Bottom.

The goofy beginning kickstarts a story full of wacky moments and the series' signature irreverent humour. The writing is easily on par with the TV show and movies, so fans are in for a comical adventure they're sure to enjoy. Throughout the entire experience, you'll hear plenty of funny buddy banter between SpongeBob and Patrick, with, of course, SpongeBob's overly optimistic personality being a perfect foil to Patrick's stupid and scatterbrained replies.

A huge roster of supporting cast members also brings the hilarity, including forever pessimistic Squidward, the spry and chipper Sandy Cheeks, and the callous Mr. Krabs. There are plenty of funny and lesser-seen characters that round out the cast like Chocolate Guy, Gary the house snail, Fred and Karen the robot. Best of all, all these characters and more are voiced by the original actors to really bring authenticity to the forefront.

The Cosmic Shake features seven distinct Wishworlds to visit, each with its own theme, along with a fully-explorable Bikini Bottom hub world. In every world, you'll find yourself getting into ridiculous situations, with accompanying cutscenes, such as seeing Gary the snail grow 100x his normal size after eating too much chocolate, or hearing Sherriff Sandy talking about a Red-Handed bandit that suspiciously sounds a lot like Mr. Krabs. There are so many in-jokes and references to past SpongeBob episodes across the series' entire history for fans to enjoy—and even if you recently got into SpongeBob, you're sure to laugh at all the silly situations Patrick and SpongeBob get themselves into.

Liked: Collecting Silly Costumes

Much like Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated, this latest SpongeBob game is a 3D collect-a-thon platformer similar to the classics like Spyro the Dragon, Banjo-Kazooie or Sonic Adventure. The most abundant collectible item is Cosmic Jelly, which you'll find scattered all over the Wishworlds, plus you'll get jelly by killing enemies or breaking the many Tiki statues in each level. Your acquired jelly can then be traded in to purchase dozens of hilarious costumes for SpongeBob.

Many of the costumes are inspired by SpongeBob cartoon episodes, and while they don't actually give our hero new powers, they're all fun and silly to put on. You've got classics like KarateBob, CowboyBob, Employee of the Month Bob and Wacky Child Bob where he dons his Glove World hat. Then there are the downright hysterical costumes like Underwear Bob (tighty whities and all), KuddlyBob where he's wrapped like a present and Housemaid Bob. And finally, you can dress SpongeBob in a whole bunch of historical and mythical characters like a Vampire, Ghost or Knight.

Usually, for most games, I'm not all that enthused by new costumes, but SpongeBob is such a unique and offbeat character and it's so fun to dress him. Plus, the costumes themselves have great designs. The best part is you can change costumes whenever you please, so whatever my mood was I could always find a ridiculous outfit to match it. This game is already quite funny, but being able to storm a castle to save Princess Pearl Krabs wearing just your underwear, or participate in a Squidward film shoot dressed as a Rambo action hero notches the comedy up to an even greater level.

Liked: SpongeBob's Special Moves

While Battle for Bikini Bottom featured three playable characters (SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy), in The Cosmic Shake you'll only get to play as the titular hero. The good news is SpongeBob's moveset has been expanded quite a bit and he's really fun to control.

You begin the game with basic moves like unleashing a spin attack with your bubble maker, throwing bubbles that can trap enemies within them, performing a cartwheel dodge, plus gliding by deploying a pizza box (lol). Over the seven-world journey, you'll acquire a bunch of new skills to expand your arsenal in useful and creative ways. Your swing hook lets you swing across suspended fishhooks, bubble surfboards let you temporarily ride them to cross gaps, the ground pound can be used to smash interactive buttons or destroy enemies, and your karate kick works exactly like Sonic's homing attacks. It's a great arsenal that helps to keep the platforming fresh while giving you a few different offensive options in battle.

What's great is most of your special moves are introduced gradually as you visit the Wishworlds, and individual levels will focus on your newly acquired ability. This goes a long way to keep levels feeling fresh and exciting. There are also a bunch of level gimmicks introduced to further expand the gameplay, such as the medieval Wishworld where you'll spend a good chunk riding a seahorse. Another great example is the downtown Bikini Bottom level that has Squidward cast you in a karate movie and you'll need to battle ninjas and perform tricky platforming while the 'movie' camera auto-scrolls. The game also includes a couple of hilarious mini-games, including trying to outdrink Sherriff Sandy in a saloon or cooking Krabby Patties just right.

Liked: Wishworld Graphics and Variety

The Cosmic Shake's seven Wishworlds are staples of the platforming genre we've all seen time and again, but it was still awesome to see SpongeBob's colourful and cartoony take on them. The story begins in the bright and cheery Wild West Jellyfish Fields and eventually takes you through levels with pirate, Halloween, prehistoric, medieval and downtown Bikini Bottom themes. The cosmic adventure wraps up with a visit to a gooped-up version of Glove World, the popular theme park attraction in Bikini Bottom.

Graphically, levels in The Cosmic Shake are a step above what we saw in the Battle for Bikini Bottom remake, which itself already had fantastic visuals. Worlds are a lot larger as well, often having several big sections to explore along with tons of mini challenges off the beaten path to discover and complete. Combat feels much smoother, too, thanks to improved animations that increase the fluidity—and cutscenes also benefit from this with better character expressions, especially SpongeBob with his many, many goofy faces.

Didn't Like: Performance Issues

A downside to the game's sharp look and larger worlds is game performance sometimes takes a hit. The framerate holds up well, but the biggest issue is the action will pause for one or two seconds every so often as you progress through the world, presumably to allow the next section to load in. This even happens during the fast-paced seahorse racing segments, with the pausing really diminishing the impact.

I also noticed that cutscene transitions are a little rough at times, and sometimes the voice track didn't sync up properly with the character's lip movements. Meanwhile, with the game releasing on PS4 (version reviewed) and not PS5, the load times between worlds felt quite lengthy and didn't take advantage of the PS5's super-speedy SSD. All considered, these technical issues amount to minor irritations and nothing more, but hopefully through patches or native PS5 and Xbox Series X versions we'll see these niggles ironed out.

The Verdict

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake delivers exactly what I'd hope for: a fun-filled new SpongeBob adventure that takes the gameplay, graphics and vibe of Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated to the next level. The story is hilarious, the gameplay is easy to get into, the Wishworlds are vibrant and interesting, and the dozens of unlockable costumes are a fun inclusion. It's too bad the performance takes a minor hit, but thankfully overall it's a small distraction from an otherwise excellent game.

Final Score: 8/10 - Great

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake details

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: Purple Lamp Studios
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: Platformer
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

A key was provided by the publisher.