Joseph Rositano
06 Sep, 2007

SpongeBob SquarePants and Friends: Battle for Volcano Island Review

PS2 Review | There ain't no pineapple under the sea for this game.
The SpongeBob SquarePants franchise has certainly come a long way in recent years. There’s been a film, toy lines, and of course, various videogames. Nickelodeon doesn’t just rely on SpongeBob for either, there’s also a whole cast of colourful franchises including Fairly Odd Parents, Jimmy Neutron and the more recent Danny Phantom. This is one of the main draw cards for Battle for Volcano Island; you have the chance to play as many of your favourite Nicktoon characters in one game. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

The game’s story takes place on a tropical island known as Volcano Island. Volcano Island one day falls under attack by the evil Mawgu, a sinister being who aspires to take control of the peaceful island and eventually, the entire globe. Ancient legend however, foretells the arrival of the great Chosen Ones who are destined to stop Mawgu once and for all. As it just so happens, SpongeBob, and his said Nicktoon buddies, are the Chosen Ones and they set out to free the island from the clutches of Mawgu.

Similar to LEGO Star Wars, Battle for Volcano Island allows players to switch between any Nicktoon character in their party. Each character has a standard melee and long-range attack which reflects back on their respected franchise, for example, SpongeBob and Sandy wear their trademark karate gloves while Timmy utilises his Fairy God Parents’ morphing abilities. Unfortunately, the swapping system lacks any real depth as there is no difference in the core abilities of characters, such as their attack strength or jump height. Instead it comes down to the personal preference of the player, which is a disappointed given there have been several games that have used similar mechanics which worked really well.

It's moments like this that make us wish Invader Zim wasn't cancelled... This scene needs Gir.

It's moments like this that make us wish Invader Zim wasn't cancelled... This scene needs Gir.
Although the game plays like a 3D adventure game, levels actually resemble a 2D-sidescroller more so than anything. Basically, you’ll find yourself walking down a linear path, climbing ladders and jumping onto a series of ledges to reach new areas. Occasionally, you’ll come to a cross-roads where you can choose one of several different paths, but usually these are simply diversions to hide bonus items and health orbs.

Another low point for the game comes from its poor focus on combat. You’ll spend a majority of your time fighting wave after wave of enemy monsters that share similar attack patterns and, in general, are real push-overs. Needless to say, this gets highly repetitive over a short period and eventually gets to the point where you avoid enemies altogether just so you can finish the level. To break up the combat, there are a few minor puzzles to solve such as knocking down a tree to form a bridge, making your way through a maze and timing your jumps to avoid hazards. Once again though, they’re very generic and even young children would find them easy to complete.

As previously mentioned, the game has several bonus items to collect (what platformer doesn’t?) which are used to unlock various features. The features include a movie gallery, art gallery, alternative costumes and bonus levels. While the first three are self explanatory, the bonus levels actually move away from combat and focus entirely on platforming, seeing you race against the clock in a time-attack. There’s also a strange Zoo feature that lets you view all the creatures you’ve encountered on the island. Unfortunately, most of these features aren’t even worth a second look, making the time and effort it takes to obtain them questionable.

Going Ghost!

Going Ghost!
In terms of multiplayer, the game offers support for two player co-op sessions. While most of the game’s flaws remain apparent, the overall experience does improve slightly due to a more fluent pace. Unfortunately, it never goes beyond that.

Visually, Battle for Volcano Island is certainly not pretty. Although the game’s environments are bright and colourful, there is a lack of greater detail to make the game standout in the sea of other licensed games already available on the PlayStation 2. Likewise, character models tend to look a lot like those cheap plastic figurines you get in Happy Meals while the game’s cut-scenes look worse than the budget CGI shows in Nick Jr’s programming line-up.

Despite its short comings, the game’s audio is surprisingly well implemented. Each Nicktoon character is voiced by the original voice actor which actually makes the game more bearable as it brings with it a sense of familiarity and fun. This is also helped by the fact that each character has a variety of phrases with a majority of them being linked to the cartoon shows such as Danny’s “Going ghost” catchphrase. In terms of the in-game music, while it isn’t the sort of thing you'll want blasting through your sound system, it sticks to the island theme of the game and provides and peaceful mood.

Where's my Krabby Patty, SpongeBob?

Where's my Krabby Patty, SpongeBob?
So as you'd expect, SpongeBob SquarePants and Friends: Battle for Volcano Island is a generic platform game. While the developers did the right thing by including the cartoon show’s voice actors, the game is overshadowed by repetitive combat segments, overly simple puzzles and poor visuals. Even children may find the game gets boring after a short period and will quickly move on to other games in the PlayStation 2’s library. Probably only for the die-hard SpongeBob fanatics.
The Score
A generic platformer to say the least. It is obvious the game’s focus is on the franchises rather than the core gameplay mechanics. One for the diehard fanatics only. 4
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 years ago
It made us smile to see an Invader Zim reference in the game, but we want to see the series be brought back as well!
That image is actually a reference to The Fairly Odd Parents, not invader zim icon_confused.gif
6 years ago
I know, but I couldn't resist putting something Zim related in the article (see sig and avatar). There was a zim reference in the actual game though. I'll edit the comment to make more sense.
6 years ago
Sounds good,

Whats the Zim reference?

Yeah, my avatar used to be to gir.
6 years ago
Zim's (crashed) spaceship is in the background of one the levels. One of the few times I actually smiled when playing the game.

Nothing big, but it's still a reference in a modern Nick game, although it could be argued one of the artists on the development team put it in there.
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