Spongebob SquarePants has become of a cult hit on both sides of the pond (and with a name like that, why the hell not?) over the last few years. His big screen debut comes complete with assorted Hollywood cameos and the obligatory game tie-in, and it's a damn funny one.
Players take control of both the short-trousered soaker-upper and his dozy mate Patrick, as, true to the film, they head to Shell City to retrieve Neptune's crown and stop evil Plankton brainwashing the sea's inhabitants with his mind control hats. Quite. As per the show, the game features tons of comical dialogue and asides. Double entendres abound, and are sure to go over the heads of most kids, but enable older players to appreciate the skewed sense of humour characteristic of the series.
The graphics, although faithful to the film, are nothing special to look at, and the story is advanced disappointingly through a series of narrated stills. SpongeBob and Patrick have several different attack moves each, but their attributes can be handily increased at the end of each level with upgrade points. Gameplay is a fairly tame blend of jumping, bashing and collecting numerous dumbbells (don't ask). However, the few driving levels are a real blast and a welcome interruption from the platforming shenanigans, though your faithful Patty Wagon isn't the best-handling vehicle to ever grace a videogame.
We've all got a soft spot for SpongeBob here at OXM towers (Ben T in particular), but our osmotic obsession can't mask the fact that this is a by-the-numbers platformer, albeit a charming one. No damp squib, yet not quite a supersoaker either.
Leaking charm from every pore, 'Bob looks and sounds fantastic, but isn't absorbing enough to retain our interest.