At THQ's recent pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo event, we got our first look at the latest entry in its SpongeBob franchise, SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature From the Krusty Krab. Though the games based on the perky yellow sponge got off to a rocky start, the latest console entries have been engaging experiences with solid gameplay. This new adventure had the added boost of being shown off on the Wii. Though we weren't able to play it ourselves, we got a fair amount of info on the title, and it's looking like it's making smart use of the Wii.
The game's premise revolves around the dreams of several familiar faces from the SpongeBob universe, including SpongeBob, Patrick, and Plankton. In keeping with the whimsical nature of the series, the game will take a B-movie-style approach to its look and feel, with each character's "level" being framed by their dreams. The demo on display found Patrick riding a rocket in a rail-shooting stage as he plowed through a space station. The level culminated in a boss fight against a massive saucer.
In speaking with THQ reps and checking out the looping trailer of gameplay that was running nearby, we managed to check out some of the other levels. The SpongeBob level shown found the peppy sponge piloting a biplane through a city, trying to avoid a Godzilla-sized Plankton who was tromping through. This tied into the Plankton level, which will have you guiding the diminutive villain through a city, mashing things all the while.
Though the levels sound fairly conventional, the Wii game's hook is obviously the console's controller. During the demo of the Patrick level, the THQ rep showed how you'll pilot the rocket with the main Wii controller and the nunchaku. You'll move your reticle by moving the main controller, fire with the button on the underside that's akin to the Z button on the N64 controller, adjust your height by moving the controller up or down, and control your speed by pushing toward or away from the Wii sensor, which rested on the monitor that was running the demo. The analog stick let you shift the color spectrum around Patrick to look for collectible items. In the looping trailer, we saw the Plankton level, which, according to THQ reps on hand, will have you swinging the controller like a club to destroy buildings as you rampage through town.
The hitch to the demo was that it was not running off of proper Wii hardware. The demo was, in fact, running off of a modified GameCube that was retrofit to support the Wii controller. As a result, the visuals weren't quite what the final game will look like. The game that was running was essentially a GameCube game that was colorful and ran reasonably well.
Based on what we saw, SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature From the Krusty Krab is looking like an inventive entry in the SpongeBob franchise that should please fans. Though the title is slated to be a multiplatform release, the Wii game looks like it will fare better than the GameCube ports that have come out in years past. Due to the controller's unique nature, there's a decent amount of work that's being done to be smart about how the game is translated to the Wii, which looks like it will bode well for the game on the whole.