Don't let the title fool you: this game's awesome

User Rating: 9 | Spongebob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom PS2
Introduction
It's a fact. Licensed games regularly end up in the rubbish bin. Those sad people that build up the hype for a really awesome game featuring your favorite toilet-paper/X-Men heroes are just in it for the money. I bought this licensed game when I was much younger, and though I have stopped watching the cartoon, the simplicity and masterpiece based on everyone's favorite sponge cooked up by THQ and Heavy Iron Studios continues to amaze me. It left me with that rare feeling you get when you finish a specific game, when you crush the game. That mix of accomplishment and energy, that fuzzy, warm feeling. This game was created by people who actually worked to make it as enjoyable as possible. What's so good about this game? Let me explain.


Story
The story goes that Plankton, the main villain of the Spongebob series, is in his Chum Bucket. He creates a machine which is meant to make robots, evil ones. It seems that his fiendish plan to steal the Krabby Patty recipe (think KFC) will finally come to fruition until he slips and presses the "DO NOT OBEY" button instead of the "OBEY" button on his machine. The robots come out and turn to Plankton, ready to smash him to pieces. He escapes (unfortunately) and gets Spongebob and his friends to help destroy all the robots for him. They get involved in a very funny twist, which I won't spoil for you!


Gameplay
The gameplay looks apparently like it was inspired by Super Mario 64. Many areas you need to pass through to finish the game and ultimately destroy all the robots are blocked. In order to get through, you need to gather enough Golden Spatulas, items collected in the areas by finishing certain objectives.
To complete these objectives, you need to combine the work of Spongebob the sponge, Patrick the starfish, and Sandy the squirrel. Each of them can perform different moves, for example Spongebob is the only one that can use the Bubble Missile-Launcher upgrade, Patrick can crush things with his own weight, and Sandy can swing around with the help of her lasso. You can switch characters either when you first unlock them (once) or when you go to a bus stop. None of these options are abused, so there are really no glitches I've actually found in the game.
Now for the missions. They can range from simply reaching a destination to helping some of your fellow fish-men/women out. All the missions are varied and unique in their own way, so it's not very repetitive.
Apart from levels where you collect Golden Spatulas, you can collect hidden Spatulas from the Bikini Bottom cross-roads which lead you to all the different areas. Patrick and Mr Krabs are hanging around here, and they'll give you some spatulas if you help:
-Patrick find 10 of his socks, hidden in levels for each spatula
-And Mr Krabs gather Shiny Objects for spatulas, dropped by robots.


Graphics
The cartoony graphics are a really pleasure to look at in this game and the characters are almost never off-sync. All the places you remember from the show are here, accurate and correct. Apart from that, there really isn't anything else to say. It's done to the maximum standard and is a very good change from the PS2's regularly violent, boring worlds. There's eye-candy galore, so cartoon fans will be extremely pleased. All the environments differ as do the missions.


Music/Sound/Voices
Everyone loves Spongebob music. Updating the classic animation music-style always made it fit each of the show's atmospheres. Battle for Bikini Bottom is no different. Remixes are done to a really brilliant score. The "Californian Surfer Style" music is really energetic and cool in the Goo La Goon section of the game.
The voice actors play their roles respectively from the show, apart from Mr Krabs that has some strange sound-alike playing him. The sounds never get annoying and yet are used a lot throughout the game. You'll be hearing Spongebob's spin attack a lot but it won't get boring.


Difficulty
Man, this must be the best thing about the game. For children and for adults, this is the real deal. It's only a tiny bit challenging to get enough spatulas in order to get to the final boss, but getting all of them is a completely different story. It might take about a month or a few weeks to get them all, so don't hang up your controller just yet.


Now for the final question: Buy it or rent it?
Buy it. Don't even THINK about renting it. Getting all of the game's spatulas is a real challenge, for children and adults. Not only that, the replay value is really, really high. Expect yourself to play it over about 10 times after you beat it once.

This is a great game. Undeserving of it's average critic score. Do yourself a favor and don't listen to the critic's score of 7.3. Trust me, you won't regret it.
Overall: 9.0