SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab is the upcoming game for current-gen consoles and Nintendo's Wii. The game gained considerable notoriety as one of the first Wii titles to start making appearances prior to this year's E3. At a recent press event in New York, THQ showed off a considerably more-polished version of the game running on Wii hardware, and we got a feel for what it will be like on the upcoming console.
If you haven't been following SpongeBob's latest console adventure, then we'll bring you up to speed: The game follows the dreams of the lovable sponge and several familiar faces from the series. Each level will take the form of a unique vignette drawn from the dreams of SpongeBob, Patrick, or Plankton. The game appears to be getting a lot of mileage out of the premise and uses it as a springboard for all manner of wackiness. Our previous looks at the game showed off Patrick's space-shooting fantasy that found you guiding the big oaf on a rail-shooting sequence, as well as SpongeBob's own flying sequences that found him avoiding a rampaging Plankton who had grown to gargantuan proportions. In addition, we got to check out Plankton's own level, which finds SpongeBob's formerly tiny nemesis growing to an enormous size and wreaking havoc.
This time out we got to check out and try new levels that showcased the game's inventive spirit and winning charm, as well as revisit the ones we'd seen before to see how they've shaped up. The new levels we saw included one in which Patrick, in his guise as the heroic Starfishman, is fighting off evil minions in a traditional third-person action style. Another saw us controlling SpongeBob as he lives his dream of finally driving. However, since this is all a dream, the little yellow guy takes it to the extreme and envisions himself as a hot-rodding sponge complete with a zany makeover. Another crazy SpongeBob dream level found us navigating the interior of a large member of the undersea kingdom that had eaten our golden hero. As far as Plankton goes, the poor little guy finds himself being chased by a large and not entirely pleasant crabby patty in a level of manic platforming. This bit of torment likely accounts for his maniacal rampage once he gets some size on him.
The varied levels put the Wii controller through a good workout and have you holding it in a variety of ways both with and without its analog attachment. On flying levels you'll hold it upright like a flight stick; on the driving level you'll hold it like a steering wheel; and on the third-person action levels you'll use the analog attachment and wave the Wii remote around to interact with your surroundings. Of all of THQ's games, we have to say SpongeBob likely felt the best of the lot. As with the other titles we saw at the event, this game doesn't offer any functionality with the Wii remote's built-in speaker.
The visuals have been buffed up nicely on the Wii. The game showcased a good amount of technical improvements over the last time we saw it, with better detail, a smoother frame rate, and a generous helping of special effects. Above and beyond the technical stuff though, we have to say we're especially pleased by the game's funky art style that heads out into left field with good results. SpongeBob gets an artsy '60s makeover for his hot-rod level, while Patrick's Starfishman level finds him in a '50s comic-inspired world that's all primary colors and old-school dot coloring.
Based on what we played, Creature from the Krusty Krab is shaping up to be a fun and funny game that works quite nicely on the Wii. The visuals are technically solid and sport an artistic flair that's still in line with the game's source material. The use of the Wii controller works pretty well from what we've tried. We're still getting used to using the thing for traditional platforming, but we're pleased overall. SpongeBob fans should be happy with the game's zany approach, while anyone looking for a Wii game with plenty of potential to be fun should keep an eye out for this one. We'll note again that multiplayer would have been nice, but it's not in the cards for this particular adventure. One nice extra will be a Wii-exclusive component that will offer the game something its current-gen cousins won't have. SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab is currently slated to ship this fall for current-gen consoles and the Wii.