Jeremy Jastrzab
02 Dec, 2005

SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, PANTS! Review

PS2 Review | It's an underwater party and everyone's invited.
One of the craziest things to come out of the minds of the good folks at Nickelodeon has to be the yellow quadrangular Porifera know as Spongebob Squarepants. Like his cartoon brethren, he’s obviously going to have to appear in a few titular video games. Despite the fact that they’re obviously aimed at kids, the last couple of platformers have been decent titles that most people could find common ground, unless you couldn’t stand the idiotic nature of the Spongebob universe. Now the developers seem to have decided that they want to venture into the world of party games with Spongebob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, PANTS!. With this title form THQ Australia, Spongebob ventures into another densely populated genre with plenty of stiff competition.

Oddly, there is a story to this game but it will mean nothing to anyone who isn’t a fan of the show. Basically, there is a search going on for some of the residents of Bikini Bottom, to play a part in a TV special to celebrate an anniversary for Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. To find these people, you need to partake in a series of auditions (i.e. mini-games) in order determine the stand out performer. In the mean time, there is a highly entertaining subplot that involves the search for a mysterious criminal. However, it will only be really entertaining if you like the show.

The main purpose of the story is as an exponent of unlocking all of the mini-games. It’s divided into ten small episodes that comprise of three games each. Each episode has a different theme and the winner will be determined by the one who has the most popularity points by the end of the three games. Unfortunately, this means that the entire game only comprises of 30 mini-games, where as others like Mario Party has in excess of 75. For what it loses in depth, it makes up for in quick and sometimes intense action, as there are no arduous board game elements that slow down play as you wait for the computers turn.

Screenshots ususally don't do a game justice but this one isn't far off

Screenshots ususally don't do a game justice but this one isn't far off
The story can be wiped through fairly quickly but it can be completed at three different levels, each with increasing difficulty. While the game hardly reinvents the genre, it does provide some solid action. As mentioned, there are ten categories of games and they cover a decent variety of activities that span most familiar places of the Spongebob world. These include working in the restaurant, driving, some music, playing at the beach and even light machine repairs. They will be completed both as individuals and with partners.

Despite most of them being pretty basic, they can get very intense. The ones that manage to be intense are the ones that are the most fun. You’d be surprised how intense a simple game that involves alternating positions to bounce along package from one side of the room to another can be. Or how hectic a simple game of Simon-says with a musical instrument can get. At the same time, there are some games that don’t quite get up to the mark and they feel as if they go for too long. Others aren’t well explained and it is not always apparent what needs to be done.

Variety amongst the thirty mini-games is not too bad. A minor issue for some is that that of this variety, it will be difficult to learn exactly what needs to be done in the initial moments of each game. Still, most games last about five minutes each. They’re often broken into increments of a minute. You’ll start off by playing the games at a certain pace, which may involve flipping burgers or pressing buttons in time with a beat and you’ll do this for about a minute. After a minute, the stop and either go a bit faster or add a new obstacle. This continues until the timer runs out. The winner is generally determined by the one with the most points. There are a few races and the winner is obviously the one who wins the race. These points and your cumulative race times all contribute to your popularity rating.

You would never believe what you need to do here

You would never believe what you need to do here
On top the story mode, there is a tournament and a single audition mode. These allow you to play through five and one mini-games respectively. It would make for some good quick pick-up-and-play gaming if it weren’t for the fact that the load times are way too long. There are quite a lot of goodies that can be collected as well. These include artworks and figurines.

Let it be known, that anyone who plays these games in Spongebob is not going to have a revolutionary mini-game experience. There really isn’t anything here that hasn’t been done before. However, for a kid’s game, the controls in most of the mini-games are very precise and tight. A few like the one where you’re driving a boat-car in a conventional racing format has very loose and difficult controls but for most of the games, the controls allow skill and reflex to take over. The main thing that will ever stop you is a mistake one your behalf.

For kids it’s a pretty good game as well. While experienced gamers are unlikely to hang around for too long, once a kid can get over some initial difficulties, there is a lot of fun to be had. Unfortunately, the load times may be a bit troublesome for reckless, impatient minds. Otherwise, parents can have absolutely no concerns about placing they’re children with this game for lengthy increments of time. The game can be fun for older fans of the show, especially if you can gather a bunch of friends, where you can all make fun of Patrick and compare him to the chubby, dopey dude you all know. Mind you, if you are all very highly sophisticated gamers, the game is more fun when there are several cartons of beer involved.

Food Fight!

Food Fight!
And once you take a look at the graphics, you might need that beer because that’s the only way they’re going to look any better. They manage to capture the look and feel of the show, the frame rate is very solid and the game is very colourful but pretty much everything else looks muddy, underdone and generally poor. The cut-scenes sometimes look like they’ve been put together with cardboard cut outs and the 3D in the game takes you back last generation. In all, looks like a half-arsed cel-shading job. The dialogue is a kin to the show’s crazy nature and it makes for some hilarious cut-scenes that sound much better than they look. The music is upbeat and the game has the same voicing as the show. But for every mini-game that lasts for a couple of minutes, each character has about three lines and they get very repetitive.

Spongebob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, PANTS! isn’t quite the perfect amalgam of kid-orientated gameplay with lashings of sophistication. The presentation for all faithfulness, is skimped, the load times are unacceptably poor, there are clarity issues for youngsters and tedium issues for older gamers. So while, not bring too much new to the table, it brings a very solid array of games that in terms of gameplay and controls are rock solid and can provide some intensity and even some reflex challenge for everyone.
The Score
Spongebob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, PANTS! continues a lineage of solid Spongebob games. Parnets can rest assured with this game. As for the rest of us, unless you're a huge Spongebob fan or have a lot of beer, there are better games out there.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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8 years ago
Spongebob is the best.
8 years ago
I have a Spongebob advent calendar. :>
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