During its press event, THQ showed off an updated version of its upcoming The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie game that will be based on the yellow sponge's big-screen debut. The game is being developed by Heavy Iron Studios, the developer who ably handled Bob's last video game foray. This time out, the veteran studio is working to craft an adventure that weaves in and out of Bob's big-screen exploits. The updated work-in-progress PlayStation 2 game showed off some new levels as well as its improved graphical presentation, although the story is still being kept fairly under wraps so as not to spoil the impending celluloid extravaganza. However, regardless of the specifics on the story, the game is coming along splendidly, offering a fun and humorous mix of solid gameplay and personality.
We caught a few levels in the game that alternated between directly controlling SpongeBob and his friend Patrick. Each character will have its own unique abilities that will prove to be invaluable for progressing through the levels. The game's structure is pretty straightforward and it will start you off with a set objective that you'll have to complete in order to continue. Once you complete that objective, you'll unlock new challenges that will help you earn tokens so you can open up new content, ranging from costumes, accessories, and artwork. The tasks will unfold in a linear fashion. Your first challenge will be your story objective. Once that is accomplished, you'll open up time challenges that will task you with going through a level in a set time, followed by ring challenges that will send you on a run in a level where you go through rings. The final challenge is the macho challenge, which will test all of your skills.
From a gameplay perspective, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie game is a solid package that offers an accessible and rich experience. The variety between the levels, including using SpongeBob and Patrick or piloting a vehicle, feels good and keeps the experience fresh.
The most notable feature of the game is the visuals, which have undergone a serious polishing. There are a number of new lighting effects, and Bob and Patrick show a good amount of improved animation, which is also complemented by new animation for their enemies. These changes lend them all more personality. The effects and polished graphics create some depth to the visuals, which do a fine job of displaying SpongeBob's expanding colorful world.
Based on what we have played so far, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie game is looking as though it will be a game that could take many by surprise when it is released this fall. There's tight gameplay and unique design on hand that makes the experience engaging, even if it doesn't have the SpongeBob license. The personality that comes from Bob, Patrick, and their foes all works well to give the game a feel that is accessible even to those who don't partake in sponge worship. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is currently slated to ship this fall for the three big platforms. Look for more on the game in the coming months.