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Spongebob: Atlantis Squarepantis

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Neko Entertainment
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer (2D)

Graphics & Sound:

Spongebob: Atlantis Squarepantis for the GBA (yes, you heard me right, a GameBoy Advance title) isn't all that bad in the graphics department. The game is a fairly standard side-scroller. The background images as well as the look of the sprites used for the characters come through pretty well and definately convey the Spongebob feel. Whether you are playing as Mr. Krabs, Sandy, Patrick or Mr. Squarepants himself, everyone is very recognizable, in fact, even some of the generic grunts used in the game could very well have come from the show.

The game's audio is about what you would expect from a GBA title. There are no voiceovers, the sound effects are little more than elaborate beeps and boops, and the background music isn't the highest fidelity, but again, that is because of the system and shouldn't really be any fault of the game or developers.


As mentioned above, Spongebob: Atlantis Squarepantis gives you control of Spongebob, Patrick, Mr. Krabs and Sandy as the four characters travel through the Lost City of Atlantis looking for long forgotten treasure. This adventure starts when Spongebob and Patrick discover parts of the Atlantis Amulet. This strange medallion will, according to legend, open up a pathway to Atlantis when it is put together. So when the two characters put the whole amulet together and a magic bus appears, they have to take it.

The story itself isn't all that bad and it has a definite Spongebob flair to it. In levels, you will have two characters available to you, the one you are currently controlling, and a second one you can switch to at any point. Each character has a different attack (Spongebob can blow bubbles, Patrick licks things, etc.), but besides that, they are pretty much all the same.

The game's levels are fairly straightforward. Like I said, this is your basic side-scroller. You will run through the level looking for various treasures (shells, golden spatulas and so on) to increase your experience and run across various enemies, like jellyfish, that can be attacked either by using your character's ability or just jumping on top of them.

Sprinkled about the game are mini-games like just before the Magic Bus arrives, Squidward attempts to teach Spongebob and Patrick music by having you tap (A), (B) or a D-pad button in time with notes that fly across the screen. Normally, this particular type of mini-game would give me trouble (being one of the timing-impaired and all), but I quickly found a flaw in this game that made it almost impossible not to pass. While most games of this sort make sure you press the desired button, and only that button, when the time is right, this mini-game just makes sure you are pushing the button they want. Consequently, I was able to push all of the buttons at the same time, and as long as I was somewhat close to the timing of the song, I got the points. The other mini-games provided in Spongebob: Atlantis Squarepantis aren't much better, but at least they did offer a little distraction from the game.

Now for the one thing that always irks me, passwords. Yes, instead of opting to save your progress, Spongebob: Atlantis Squarepantis uses passwords. Come on people, I don't care if this is a GBA title, we have long since passed the time when we need to use passwords to keep track of where we are in the game. It's always a hassle to get out a pen and write the password down, and to make matters worse, there doesn't seem to be a way to look up the last password you were given in case you have to put the game down unexpectedly. It wouldn't have been nearly as bad if I could have just looked up what the last one generated was, because then I could copy down the password whenever I felt like I needed to, instead of every time it came across the screen.


Spongebob: Atlantis Squarepantis is, as you would expect, not hard at all. Since it is a platformer at heart, there is of course the general "stupid errors" that you do while playing. Things like not timing your jumps right or not being patient enough and running into enemies. But as long as you collect enough shells, you will almost always get health upgrades at a constant enough pace that you will almost never die. If anything makes this game any kind of challenge, it would be the part of you that doesn't want you to leave a level until you've gotten all of the collectables, and while that isn't always possible, if you don't just run through the level at full tilt trying to get through the story, it might actually take some time. Of course, even the amount of time added by trying to collect everything isn't all that much in the long run.

Game Mechanics:

Spongebob: Atlantis Squarepantis is pretty standard as far as controls are concerned. You might want to go through the tutorial just to make sure you understand things like how to switch characters, but for the most part, it is pick up and play. The (A) button makes you (and the other character) jump, while (B) is an attack. If your character has a charge attack (like Spongebob's bubbles), then you hold it down to power it up. The (L) button is used to switch characters while the (R) performs a combo move (Spongebob and Patrick jump up and slam into the ground to break blocks under them, while Patrick will use Mr. Krabs as a pinching weapon).

If you still have a GBA and want to pick up a new game, this counts, but I don't think there are all that many people out there who fall into that particular category. If you have a DS, then you might want to check out the reviews for that version of Spongebob: Atlantis Squarepantis before actually making a purchasing decision. It isn't that this game is bad, it just feels very dated.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Sony PlayStation 2 Dance Dance Revolution: Supernova 2 Nintendo DS Front Mission

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