IGN Review of SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab
Fright! Chills! Unspeakable terrors! It came from Bikini Bottom - the Creature from the Krusty Krab! A ghoulish fiend like the world has never seen, unleashed now upon the innocent citizenry of the deep! Fear not, friends, this beast cannot harm you. It is contained, trapped inside a simple Game Boy Advance cartridge. It's SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab - read on, if you dare.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab is a game with a short attention span - it changes its mind about what kind of game it is every few minutes. Pit-jumping vehicle sequences give way to platforming levels. Adventures inside a giant worm's digestive tract are followed by side-scrolling shooter action. You'll even fly an airplane into battle against an enormous, laser-eyed monster - and that's just for starters. All of those gameplay types are here, joined by at least 20 other distinct designs. The variety is tied to the random nightmares of the sleeping SpongeBob, Patrick Star and Plankton, who take turns in the spotlight as the game's playable hero.
The diversity in gameplay is both positive and negative. Positively, it represents a welcome change from a lot of GBA titles that stick to one simple formula and lather, rinse and repeat it throughout a full adventure. Negatively, each individual design in the Krusty Krab cartridge only gets a few moments to shine. Some of them would do well if they were more fleshed out - take, for example, one of Patrick's levels. He's been strapped to a rocket and blasted off into space, and one of his challenges clones the classic gameplay of Asteroids. The homage is faithful and fun, but over too quickly - as soon as the last rock is blasted, it's off to the next, totally different style of play.
A separate Arcade mode full of more standalone mini-games addresses this concern, though players will have to find spinning arcade machine tokens hidden throughout the main adventure to unlock each game there. A Stage Select allows revisitation of completed levels, but isn't precise enough to target individual challenges - no jumping straight to Patrick's Asteroids.
Precision does enter in with the tight and intuitive control scheme found in each level - these scenarios aren't switching as fast as a Wario Ware game, but like that franchise it's always easy to know how to control each scene. Introductory text gives a fuller explanation before the action starts as well.
SpongeBob's world and style come through remarkably well here, from the crazed expressions on the character sprites to the obsession with putting jellyfish in nearly every level. Especially nice are the still-frame cutscenes that progress the plot between "episodes." They look like they've been pulled straight out of the cartoon, and they help establish some cohesion in what is otherwise a really random collection of game designs.
But randomness works for SpongeBob. The quick-change variety of play actually reinforces the license, as any fan of the show knows that Bob himself isn't exactly sane. For gamers who prefer depth in their designs, this Creature may be a true terror. But as a portable package, the style lends itself well to quick pick-up-and-play sessions.
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