Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Swing by Bikini Bottom during the events of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake, and the answer is, er, nobody. In this family-friendly platformer from Purple Lamp, The Cosmic Shake follows best friends SpongeBob and Patrick as they get their hands on a bottle of wish-granting Mermaid’s Tears. The pair go wild, granting an obscene amount of Bikini Bottom’s deepest desires without pausing to read the warning label until it’s too late.
It goes as well as you would expect: half of Bikini Bottom’s townsfolk are whisked away to alternate-dimension Wishworlds, violent jelly-monsters spill from cracks in the universe, SpongeBob’s pineapple house vanishes, and Patrick is turned into a balloon. Just another day in Bikini Bottom, really.
As the player, it’s your job to guide SpongeBob through these Wishworlds, hunting down Jelly currency and rescuing each world’s lost inhabitants. The Cosmic Shake has a lot of fun with its levels: one platformer sees you chasing down a bandit Mr. Krabs through a Western epic, while another drops the cowardly sponge into a Halloween-themed world to rescue his beloved pet snail Gary. Each world has a neatly-parcelled main quest to guide you through the level – true to its platforming genre, these quests mostly entail navigating with a series of risky jumps and battering Jelly monsters that range from feeble grunts to bathtub-wielding brutes with more pecs than brains. In general, nothing in The Cosmic Shake will be too difficult for anyone who’s dabbled in platformers before, though the occasional jumping puzzle can take a few attempts to land on two feet.
Combat rarely tries to reach these heights, aside from a few boss fights, and remains simple throughout. Generally, this is a good thing – The Cosmic Shake isn’t the sort of game you want interrupted by Elden Ring-style bouts to the death – but there isn’t enough to keep the minute-by-minute fighting interesting as the game goes on. While some encounters lock you into an arena until there’s no Jelly left standing, it becomes harder to justify tackling a bunch of baddies you’ve killed 20 times before when you can just…walk around them.
Visually, The Cosmic Shake looks gorgeous. Bikini Bottom’s hubworld is garish and vivid, and each Wishworld makes full use of their wacky themes. It’s no surprise – Purple Lamp handled Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated in 2020 – but the warm, cartooney art style and catchy soundtrack will sit comfortably with fans of platformers like Banjo Kazooie or Mario Odyssey.
Though The Cosmic Shake is entirely family-friendly, there are plenty of gags for sharp adults to pick up on. For those who grew up with SpongeBob, there are heaps of references to older episodes to chuckle wryly at, but many gags cast a wider net. One of the journalists you save from a movie set-turned-warzone is a fishy stand-in for Hunter S. Thompson, albeit with his iconic cigarette holder swapped for a biro hanging from the corner of his mouth. Elsewhere, the game’s opening level offers a host of self-aware tropes for Western fans to enjoy, while a throwaway barb from Squidward riffs on the creative industry’s “paid in exposure” tactic.
Though Patrick and SpongeBob’s bantering can feel a little incessant at times, each character is written impeccably – Mr. Krabs remains hilariously indentured to his culinary capitalism, while Squidward’s moment in the spotlight as an auteur director is an entertaining trainwreck. Though the game’s difficulty leans toward a younger audience, the writing is much broader – simple enough for children to cackle away at, yet intelligent enough to draw chuckles from the world-weariest adult.
However, The Cosmic Shake‘s repetition issues are far less entertaining, and the game really suffers for it. Some of it is skin-deep – it’s irritating to hear SpongeBob rattle off one of the same five lines every time he scoops up Jelly or lands a spin-attack – but others can’t be fixed as easily as whacking the volume down. Some levels lean on certain objectives too heavily – the Western world sends you away to harvest cactus juice several times before the plot moves on, and repeatedly hoisting the Flying Dutchman’s socks becomes as stale as the ghost’s footwear. Admittedly, The Cosmic Shake‘s objectives are typically designed to shuffle you through the game’s real substance – brawling with Jelly monsters, landing difficult jumps and chuckling at gags – but some levels lean on their formula a bit too hard.
It’s a shame, because The Cosmic Shake is brilliant when it gets inventive. Though quick-time events and button-mashing minigames are a little dreary in most games, The Cosmic Shake bucks the trend – a personal favourite includes cooking up Krabby Patties for the town, trying not to burn each pattie as they all cook at wildly varying speeds. Though other areas could have benefitted from a shake-up, the moments that do veer into monotony are largely carried by the fact that The Cosmic Shake‘s tight pacing means you’re rarely there long before it’s time to be whisked away for some other nautical nonsense – and there’s plenty of that to enjoy.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake launches on January 31 for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox. This review was played on Xbox Series S.
Whether your little ones are obsessed with SpongeBob or you’ve been a fan of the show since it debuted 23 years ago, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is a delightful adventure for all. Though Purple Lamp’s return to Bikini Bottom may disappoint anyone looking for an old-school platforming challenge, a steady stream of clever gags and gorgeous locales mean The Cosmic Shake is a game worth wishing for – just be sure to read the label.
- Creative Wishworld levels
- Entertaining comedy for all ages
- Brilliant soundtrack
- Combat can feel dreary as the game goes on
- SpongeBob and Patrick’s banter can be grating at times
- Some Wishworlds can struggle with repetitive tasks