Gamecube Reviews: Spongebob Squarepants : Revenge of the Flying Dutchman
Spongebob Squarepants : Revenge of the Flying Dutchman Screenshots
| The Final Say!|
Spongebob Squarepants : Revenge of the Flying Dutchman
- reviewed by Rick Thorpe
Review Date: 21 February 2003
Review Score: 7/10
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Like bad reality TV shows, licensed adventure games keep streaming onto our screens in larger and larger numbers. Each one a ghost of the previous, each one treading the familiar ground of the each one before it. Sometimes developers get things right, and sometimes they get them wrong, i.e. Rugrats Royal Ransom. Thankfully this Spongebob Squarepants game goes quite a ways in the right direction and really does add something to this overcrowded genre.
I am personally a fan of the Spongebob cartoon, I really like its humour and style a lot, so its reassuring to see this humour and style carried through into the game. It usually comes off very well, and is really a good effort at making the game more into an interactive episode of the show. If you aren't a fan of the show, then you probably won't be interested in this game at all, and if you never played it, you wouldn't really be missing that much.
The thing that really sets this game apart from most of the other licensed platform/adventure games is the way in which you achieve your goals for each level. To put it simply, it plays like Tony Hawk Pro Skater, without the skateboarding and time limits (excluding THPS 4, of course).
Each area of the game has a list of about 12 goals which you can access from the pause screen. Some of these are obvious, some are tricky but most of them are fun. There's a huge variety of them also, you very rarely (apart from the collecting icons ones) do the same thing more than once.
Sure some of these are things you will have done in some form or another in other games, but they never get tiring, mainly because there are just so many of them. This makes the games pace as relaxed or as hectic as you like. You can take your time wandering around occasionally checking your "to do list" or try to do as many as you can as fast you can, there is no reward for completing them fast though, as there are no real time limits except for a few goals that are time based.
Instead of just wandering around collecting the letters to Spongebob's name (the main basis of the game) you have to complete a task first. A few of these tasks are set up as mini-games which is another nice addition. This works very well and the developers Big Sky Interactive must be commended for making it work so effectively. There are a sizeable amount of levels in this game as well, this isn't a 2 hour game by any stretch and because it doesn't have the boring repetition of a lot of these style games, it will keep you interested up to the last.
Revenge of the Flying Dutchman gets this part of the game right, and keeps the controls to very familiar territory also, which isn't a bad thing. You'll find all the familiar jump, action, crouch etc buttons, as well as different functions for them when Spongebob changes into different costumes.
As with every other licensed game you will see all the main characters from it in one form or another throughout the course of the game. All the characters voices in the game are done by the same people who do them in the show, which is a great touch, unfortunately the lip synching routine is not up to this standard and lets things down a bit in the cinemas, but its forgivable. Unfortunately there are less than a handful of music selections in the game, and although they are great renditions of the shows music, they do get grating after a couple of hours play as they only change when you change Spongebob's costumes.
The graphical style of this game is very close to the cartoon series as well. All the locations are rendered very closely to how they are drawn in the show. However, there's hardly any use of current generation graphic techniques with the exception of some nice resolution textures. The down side is the very unstable framerate of the game. It chugs all over the place, and seemingly for no other reason than sloppy, careless coding.
The geometry is fairly plain, and there is zero excuse for this game not to run at 60fps, locked. The slow down never gets bad enough to hamper the gameplay due to its slow and relaxed place, but its still jarring and unacceptable. The characters are rendered nicely, without going into to extraneous details and the textures on the whole are sometimes great (especially on larger landmarks) but are more often than not average and repetitive, most notably in the Downtown area.
The main thing is this game plays like the show. It has the same style humour and with its semi original goal based gameplay, it really is fun to play. It's hardly in the same league as any of the top tier Gamecube games like Mario Sunshine or Starfox Adventures, but as far as licensed action adventure games go, it really succeeds where most fail. If you can look past the erratic framerate and bland graphics I believe you'll find a fun adventure game that does the license proud.
- Rick Thorpe
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