It’s time to finally delve into the world of Spongebob! I must admit that I actually haven’t played a great deal of Spongebob games before. This is one of the first ones for me, but it’s a pretty good way to get back into the franchise. This title is a racing game mixed in with a little vehicular warfare. It makes for a good dynamic and the game even has a plot which is an added bonus. Especially considering that this game goes for only a few dollars, you do not want to miss it!
The game starts off with Spongebob failing to get his license once again. It’s a pretty emotional moment since he had been doing so well in the training, but he randomly decided to accelerate and hit every obstacle. I feel like his short term memory had just ended when the exam started so he forgot everything that he learned. He feels bad about it, but then a shark comes along and offers Spongebob a chance to get a license through…other channels. He simply has to complete the Shark’s D.R.I.V.E. school which teaches you how to be a bad driver, that way you know what not to do on the real exam. Spongebob figures that this is easy enough and decides to pay the high entry fee to join. The rest of the characters get in on the action as well.
After you finish singing the Spongebob theme song to yourself and get back into the game, you’ll see that the DRIVE chapters have now opened. There are 5 chapters in the game along with a final chapter where you must use everything that you have learned. It’s graded report card style, but fortunately you don’t need all As. The levels are mostly pretty easy. A few of them may have taken me 2-3 tries, but ultimately you’ll have it down pat. The controls are easy enough as you just accelerate, turn, and brake. That’s it. You get to choose which vehicle you want as the game goes on and once you unlock the big boat, there’s no turning back. One good hit from that car can total just about any other. It’s only drawback is that it’s slow, but that’s not a problem in bumper cars. Just don’t pick it for the races.
The different game modes are: “Smash The Cars” “Race The Cars” “Smash The Cars and pick up the pieces.” My favorite is certainly the first mode, but they’re all reasonably solid in their own right. I haven’t played a great deal of car games with this gimmick so that was definitely a lot of fun. The gameplay is actually pretty smooth and I’d say that the game got a pretty decent budget for a title based on a TV show. There are even a lot of sound effects as you’re driving where the characters hurl some pretty personal insults at each other. Lets just say that their friendships will be a little strained after this event is all over. It’s the price that they have to pay for victory!
Graphically, Spongebob delivers. It may not look great, but the levels are very clear. If anything, the only part that bothered me was the loading screen as Spongebob would get a very weird facial expression. They also added too much color to his cheeks which was odd as well. So when you ignore the loading screen, then the whole thing comes together quite nicely. I should also mention that the game has fully animated cutscenes with voice acting which was a really good bonus to have along. The music is also pretty good. The main theme is very catchy and I still remember it which is a very good thing.
There is a little replay value to be found here. Once you obtain all A ranks in the game, you’ll unlock the final vehicles and game options. It probably wouldn’t take long to get the rest of them. I got a bunch of A ranks without even trying so it’s not like you’d have to redo all of the lessons. Still, I can’t say that I’m too tempted to get the rest of the cars since the ones that I already have are pretty good. I suppose it still does help to make the overall game longer and more worth your dollar though.
You definitely do need to enjoy the gameplay though since the game is very formulaic and can be seen as a little repetitive. There are roughly 35 levels sprinkled into the game and since there are only 3 game modes, you’ll be seeing them quite a lot. I guess you could say that it’s set up like Mario Kart, but with far fewer levels so you’re usually just on the same roads. The game did its best to shift things up a bit, but the level designs was certainly its weakness. There are no colorful levels as they all look the same.
Overall, I’d recommend checking out Spongebob’s Boating Bash. It’s a surprisingly fun adventure and one of the only underwater racing games that I can think of. What really gives it an extra boost is the story mode since it’s pretty engaging. Spongebob is definitely a little more naive than I remember, but at least he’s portrayed as a good kid. He’s always acting pretty modest and addresses everyone as Sir. His friends all seem a little more mean spirited though as they all join just to beat up Spongebob. I forgot how much the whole village resents his success. I look forward to trying out one of the Gamecube games at some point, but it’ll likely be a long while before then.