Scheduled for release alongside its 2004 cinematic inspiration, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is a third-person, mission-driven action game. The absorbent, yellow, porous protagonist and his Bikini Bottom posse become involved in the mystery surrounding King Neptune's missing crown, and they must complete a series of platform challenges to unravel it. Along the way, they stumble into unforeseen danger, but make some new friends, too. Various levels put players in control of SpongeBob himself, his starfish friend Patrick, on foot or behind the wheel of a number of drivable vehicles.
The Spongebob Squarepants Movie software game for the PC should not be confused with the video game counterparts -- it is not a platformer. Rather, it's an adventure game that involves hunting for objects to add to the inventory, using the items in order to solve problems, and advancing to the next levels. This game is divided into chapters. Each chapter involves some kind of special task and opens with a story that sums up portions of the feature film.
Interestingly, the different chapters in the game allow kids to lead different characters, such as Spongebob and Mindy, in order to perform the chapter's tasks. Chapter Two, for example, involves helping Plankton, the "bad guy", carry out his evil plan "Z"!
Kids need to lead the star character through the chapter by exploring an area (such as the rooms of Spongebob's home), picking up objects, talking to characters, and solving problems. In Chapter One, for example, kids move Spongebob through the rooms of his home. If they try to exit the house, Spongebob will tell them, "I can't go outside in my underwear!" They need to find his clothes, which involves first picking up a spatula in the kitchen and using it on the lock of his chest, which is broken. He talks to a "highstrung" telephone repairman in his yard, to his pet snail, and, later, to Patrick and Squidward. He needs to brush his teeth before he can move to the next chapter, but he doesn't have toothpaste.
There are some perhaps questionable moments in the game, although that is to be expected with the Spongebob license. For example, if kids leave the water running in the sink, there doesn't seem to be any consequence. Although the game plays with a similar style as Putt-Putt and Freddi Fish, it's not as socially responsible. (Makes me think that Putt-Putt would definitely remind kids to turn off the water!). Speaking of comparisons to Putt-Putt, when Spongebob sees that Squidward has toothpaste and players try to take it, Spongebob says, "I can't take that!", but then follows with the reason, "Squidward might see me!", and the only way to get the toothpaste involves deceiving Squidward by distracting him. Kids are also told things like, "You have GOT to be kidding!" when they don't use the right item. Definitely not Putt-Putt! Granted, some parents have expressed that they find Putt-Putt a bit too squeaky clean.
There is a fair amount of humor in the game that helped hold children's interest. Because there is a lot of waiting and re-tracing one's steps in the game, the program feels tedious at times. Reading is required.
Kid testers got stuck early in the game. However, after they solved their initial dilemmas, they became more accustomed to the gameplay and had a far easier time completing the game after getting past the original hump. It is important that users read the jewelcase insert for basic instructions. If kids don't know that they often need to combine items in order to solve a problem, they will be hopelessly stuck.
People who downloaded SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie have also downloaded:
Spongebob Squarepants: Employee of the Month, Shivers Two: Harvest of Souls, Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure, Shivers, Silent Steel, Silverload, Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, Space Quest 4: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
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