One of the reasons the Wii gets such a bad rap from the gaming community is the extensive library of crappy games that clog store shelves. A lot of these games are based on licenses aimed at kids. When a kids' game manages to rise above the dumbed-down, stale gameplay of its colleagues, it's surprising, if not downright shocking. Unfortunately, SpongeBob SquigglePants is not one of these games. THQ has slapped one of the most popular kids' franchises onto an unimpressive game, which requires an external peripheral for no good reason.
Last November, THQ introduced the uDraw tablet
, a Wii-specific peripheral that could serve as an art tool in addition to a controller. Some of the subsequent games released for the peripheral, like Pictionary, have made smart use of the tablet. SpongeBob SquigglePants, on the other hand, feels like nothing more than a cheap attempt to move more product for the platform without really making use of any of its unique features.
SpongeBob SquigglePants is a mini-game compilation in the vein of the WarioWare
games. Each "nanogame," as THQ calls them, lasts no more than a few seconds and has the user completing one simple task, such as catching a hamburger or answering a phone. These tasks are completed by tapping, flicking, pressing, or drawing on the art area of the tablet, or shaking or tilting the entire tablet. Completing large numbers of these games without messing up unlocks various pieces of artwork in the SpongeBob SquarePants Art Gallery.
Patchy the Pirate, a live actor from the SpongeBob universe, introduces players to the art gallery and offers commentary on their performance. I realize I'm not the target audience for this character, but I found Patchy so annoying, I audibly told him to shut up multiple times. However the worst thing about the character is that he will call players "losers" if they fail at completing their goals. I can't imagine many parents would be crazy about their kids being called losers by their video games.
The mini-games are all right, even though they do get repetitive pretty quickly, and the sensitivity of the tablet makes the control a bit shoddy in some of them. Additionally, once you've unlocked all of the paintings, there's nothing left to do but go back and try to complete the same games faster and without messing up. The only mini-games that were actually interesting were those inspired by classic games like Frogger, Breakout, and Asteroids. These mini-games actually made you feel like you were doing something other than madly tapping or scribbling.
But my biggest problem with SpongeBob SquigglePants is that there's absolutely no reason for this game to require the uDraw tablet. With the exception of a very simple drawing tool, all the mini-games could just have easily been controlled with the Wiimote. The tablet adds nothing to the experience, and is basically treated like a big DS touchscreen.
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