SpongeBob SquarePants was one of my favourite TV shows growing up. I used to watch it almost every day and laughed through each episode, even those that basically amounted to Squidward torture porn. To this day, I still shout “Are you feeling it Mr Krabs?!”, and “He’s just standing there, menacingly”, even though I haven’t watched the show for a very long time.
You could say I’m a pretty big SpongeBob fan. The modern episodes will never live up to the earlier seasons, but there’s still an undeniable charm to the yellow square’s obliviously pure outlook on life.
My love for the franchise meant I was pretty excited for The Cosmic Shake, Purple Lamp’s first original take on a SpongeBob game after previously remastering Battle for Bikini Bottom. After having finished it, my opinion on it mostly lines up with our reviewer Rhiannon Bevan, – it’s nothing special, yet remains a competent platformer with plenty of great ideas, especially if you’ve played past SpongeBob games and just want something simple to mess around with.
As much as I enjoyed turning my brain off and transporting myself back to the glory days of 2003 when I didn’t have to pay taxes, The Cosmic Shake has one major problem that made me question whether I’ve ever liked SpongeBob in the first place – it’s incessantly loud and annoying. Perhaps more so than any other game I’ve ever played.
If you’ve seen even 30 seconds of a SpongeBob episode you will probably think that’s a deliberate choice considering it’s kinda the character’s whole thing, but it’s a bit more complicated. The big problem isn’t the scripted dialogue between Patrick and SpongeBob that happens during cutscenes or when you’re exploring levels (although it doesn’t hold a candle to the duo’s banter in classic episodes). Rather, the problem comes from the unbearably annoying quips that SpongeBob spits out every couple of seconds after doing the simplest of tasks.
No matter what you do in the Cosmic Shake, SpongeBob has a grating voice line to go with it. You might think that Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl had previously proven that characters having voices is a universal positive, but when there are around three quips per action in a game that has you doing the same things over and over again, you quickly start getting nostalgic for All-Star Brawl’s initial brand of awkward white noise.
Pick up some jelly, the Cosmic Shake’s equivalent to coins, and SpongeBob will say “A little dab’ll do ya”, “Sticky sweet!”, or “Ooh, more jelly!”. Glide with the pizza box and SpongeBob will sing the Krusty Krab pizza song, which is a nice little reference but not something I need to hear 30 times over the course of a six-hour game. The worst voice line of them all is when SpongeBob has to climb a ledge, which causes him to grunt like he’s just ruined his square pants. Or ripped them, as the classic episode goes.
Combine those quotes constantly looping like a broken jukebox with the incessant smashing of Tiki boxes and the squeaking noises of SpongeBob’s shoes as he runs around and The Cosmic Shake has to be one of the most annoyingly loud games I’ve played in my life. Because of this, any time when it’s even a little quieter is instantly noticeable, which is why its best level is one that mostly shuts SpongeBob up.
Prehistoric Kelp Forest is one big callback to the iconic season three episode, Ugh, which stars prehistoric versions of SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward. In the episode, the three speak in a garbled caveman language that is mostly made up of single-syllable words and grunts.
As a reference to this classic adventure, the Prehistoric Kelp Forest has SpongeBob and Patrick speaking in the same language during cutscenes. Not only is SpongeBob 100 percent less annoying when he’s only speaking broken English without a high-pitched laugh in between each word, but this is also the only level in the game where SpongeBob doesn’t spout any of his recycled quotes.
No matter what you do while exploring the Kelp Forest, whether it be collecting jelly or killing enemies, SpongeBob remains tight-lipped the entire time. It’s a little sad that a game that relies so much on being all about SpongeBob is infinitely better when its protagonist shuts up for five minutes, but as long as I don’t have to hear “A little dab’ll do ya” again, I’m sure I’ll get over it.
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