Spongebob Squarepants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom Review (PS2)
They've united against their arch-enemies. They've won the battle for Volcano Island. They staved off the attack of the Toybots. Now Spongebob and his cartoon allies return for another mediocre adventure in Nicktoons: Globs of Doom.
While this is actually the fourth edition of the Nicktoons series of video games, everyone's favorite undersea fry cook Spongebob Squarepants takes kind of a starring role in Globs of Doom for the Sony PlayStation 2 (and also for the Nintendo Wii and DS handheld). The original title, Nicktoons Unite!, was an enjoyable action game for up to four players, pitting some of the more popular Nickelodeon cartoon characters, like Spongebob, Jimmy Neutron and Timmy Turner, against their arch-enemies. Subsequent games in the series, however, have actually worsened in quality and limited the number of players that could play together, with the second game featuring only a co-op mode and the third being a strictly single-player affair. Does this most recent Nicktoons offering reverse the downward spiral? To put it bluntly, no, it doesn't.
The game starts off with Spongebob and Squidward walking around their hometown of Bikini Bottom, when a glob of slime falls on Squidward and turns him into a mind-controlled zombie. Shortly thereafter, Jimmy Neutron shows up and whisks Spongebob away to a top-secret base, where a group of Nicktoons heroes and villains agree to team up, investigate the cause of the goop and put an end to it. It's a rather thin premise, but it does serve the purpose of getting the rather unique group of playable characters together so that they can investigate the various Nicktoon worlds, including Bikini Bottom, Danny Phantom's hometown of Amity Park, and even Tak's Pupununu Village. While the plot is serviceable though unspectacular and contains the sort of humor that the young ones will enjoy, there are some inconsistencies and typos, and the font can be hard to read at times as well.
Globs of Doom is a pretty standard fare platform game, which means that there's lot of jumping, a simple fighting engine, levels to pull, that sort of thing. The X button is used to jump, the square button is used for a mêlée attack, R1 fires each character's long-range weapon. Hitting X twice executes a double-jump, the control stick is used for movement, and the directional pad allows you to switch which character you control. Furthermore, by using the L1 button to trigger character-specific combo attacks that target multiple enemies. Except for boss fights, each stage starts off with a sort of surfing minigame, then shifts to full-on free-roaming 3D action. Controls are responsive, on the whole, and despite its flaws it is a can be rather enjoyable game to play.
There are hidden trophies in each stage which, when collected, allow the gamer to activate a variety of cheat codes, and by collecting money in stages, players can purchase various upgrades for their characters, which adds a little welcome depth to an otherwise fairly shallow and straightforward action/platformer. Also, two-player mode returns in Globs of Doom, which is both good and bad. On the one hand, it is nice that the game can be experienced with a friend again. On the other, however, the camera is absolutely terrible in multiplayer, and unless both characters essentially remain joined at the hip, one will get left behind. Worse yet, sometimes it will shift from one character to another at the most inopportune of moments, in the heat of battle. This is one game that's best played solo, I'm afraid. Also, it's worth noting that this reviewer did experience the occasional game-crashing glitch during play-testing sessions, which definitely results in points off in this department.
Graphics and Sound
If you've ever played a Spongebob or a Nicktoons game before, not much here will surprise you. Essentially, the characters look just good enough to be passable, the environments are familiar although not overly detailed, the music is pretty forgettable and the characters jabber on endlessly, often times repeating the same lines over and over again. It isn't terribly impressive, and on the whole it smacks of developers putting just enough effort into things to make it acceptable. If that was indeed their goal, they've succeeded, but just barely. In the looks and sounds department, Globs of Doom is just barely teetering on average. The official score is three stars, but in reality, it's probably more like a 2.5 or a 2.6 rounded up. Kids these days are more savvy than some gaming companies give them credit for, and while they might find the cut scenes interesting and the voice acting amusing, more effort would most definitely have been appreciated.
Personally, I think that Spongebob Squarepants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom absolutely reeks of a quick cash-in effort with a popular license, where the developers made just enough of an effort to make the game passable. However, for the sake of fairness, I had a couple of members of the target audience give the game a whirl as well, and they enjoyed it. They were willing to overlook the flaws and the overall lazy game design -- the sort of things that will drive a more experienced gamer nuts -- and were able to focus on playing as their favorite characters, and especially finding the hidden trophies needed to unlock the cheat codes. The humor hit home with them, and they enjoyed the fact that the boss battles added some variety to things. So is this a game worth buying? For most gamers, no. For kids who are big fans of these Nickelodeon cartoons and have enjoyed past Nicktoons games, maybe, and even then I would strongly recommend renting first. There certainly are worse games on the market, and there is fun to be had here, but every aspect of the game is just so riddled with a prevalent air of laziness that it makes Globs of Doom a hard video game to recommend.