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SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, Wii
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Natsume
Release Date: Oct. 20, 2008

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Wii Review - 'SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom'

by Erik "NekoIncardine" Ottosen on Jan. 26, 2009 @ 5:00 a.m. PST

SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom is an action-packed adventure featuring 10 playable characters from some of the most popular Nickelodeon TV shows, as well as numerous iconic locations such as Retroville, Amity Park and Bikini Bottom.

It's hard to even imagine how much money THQ and Nickelodeon have made off of SpongeBob SquarePants, the little yellow guy who lives in a pineapple solely because the authors decided that he lives in a pineapple. His games may have been among the best-selling of all time for Nintendo's platforms, and this pattern has continued with highly successful works for the PlayStation 2 and Wii. When THQ couldn't make the innovative and quirky Drawn to Life work, they simply added SpongeBob SquarePants Edition to the name for an instant hit.

So what's the one sure way to make a SpongeBob game sell better? How about Invader Zim? And since they'd already be in crossover territory anyhow, why not go ahead and throw every other recent Nicktoon into SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom? Except Avatar. (Sorry Aang, but at least you get the consolation prize of having an entire, and much better, game to yourself.) Tak, though? Okay, you did start as a game, but you still count because Nickelodeon came up with the concept, so you're in. A bunch of the villains of the shows are playable too, so why not. Turn it into a technically inaccurately described feature on the box!

Now to come up with a plot, some gameplay, and a way to make Invader Zim, the creation of a guy almost as famous for Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, fit into an "E" rating. That's where things start to fall apart, as THQ's usual tendencies come forth in spades to create a playable, but not exactly enjoyable, experience.

The story begins with SpongeBob being his usual ludicrously happy self when aliens drop out of the sky and turn everyone into possessed zombies. It's funny to have Zombie Squidward chasing SpongeBob in circles until he's rescued by Jimmy Neutron. It turns out that just about every toon in the recent Nickelodeon canon is being invaded by these outer space villains. Conveniently, these characters already have established combat skills from previous crossovers (and those plots do appear to relate to the current plot). Given technological upgrades from some weird device of the mysterious Mawgu, they figure that they have enough to save the world. Said upgrades include a bubble gun, plunger (of DOOM — guess who carries that), and other E-rated weaponry to keep things exceptionally cartoonish while conveniently ignoring that many of the characters already had superpowers and didn't need upgrades in the first place.

As gameplay starts, though, one thing becomes quickly obvious: In spite of the characters looking different and saying different annoying things, they play identically in the most generic action layout possible. They defeat enemies (without using anything resembling the character's actual abilities!), collect coins, find an occasional hazard or obvious secret, and they're done. THQ didn't really do anything special here besides get a couple of reasonably talented writers to make the characters feel somewhat authentic and fairly humorous; even the bad guys, who are made to look just slightly scary in a childish fashion, get a share of moments as the plot progresses.

The gameplay is held back further by an aspect of the presentation: the voices. Yes, they're mandatory in a licensed game, but could they have found less annoying clips to use during the very first stage>?!?! Things improve a little later on but remain at the level of "extremely annoying" even for younger players.

Fortunately, the music is at least passable, if intentionally (and at times, humorously) generic, and the graphical presentation manages to capture the feel of the respective shows with surprising effectiveness. The first zone actually looks like Bikini Bottom, with loose edges on objects and choice camera angles to help 3-D objects seem just a little more like the show's blatant 2-D, and this pattern continues across the game.

Unfortunately, this also goes to the characters of the shows, producing five extremely distinct looks. Tak, in particular, feels extremely out of place with his 3-D cartoon style when it's compared to the more 2D-inspired appearance of the others. Furthermore, Zim doesn't end up feeling like the Zim from the show, even if the environments closely resemble the source material. There's probably no way that THQ could do this to satisfy everyone, but it does remain off-putting, and the Mawgu artifacts, with their own distinctive style, only worsen the issue.

Ultimately, what damns SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom is its limited quality of use of just about everyone who isn't SpongeBob, combined with its utterly generic gameplay. About the only creative element is being able to play as some of Nickelodeon's villains, and even then, the barrel doesn't exactly produce entertaining results. Zim "feels" right, but he shows up so infrequently and doesn't get to a humorous line with any semblance of speed. THQ put most of its effort into good-feeling and nice-looking stages and characters, and the results fall short of achieving plain and simple fun. Apparently, any semblance of creativity in gameplay went to their efforts on Avatar. It would've also been nice to have the characters just use the silly but awesome powers they've already been given.

Score: 5.0/10


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