Saturday, 2 May 2015

Spongebob Heropants

When I was younger I loved the cartoon Rock's Modern Life which followed the life of well, Rocko, of course. Rocko was a wallaby, and the series was something I essentially grew up on. Featuring lovely animation and a fair share of adult humour (anyone remember the episode where Rocko worked at a sex line?), it still holds a place in my heart. Sadly though, Rocko's Modern Life only lasted 4 seasons, and ultimately met its demise in 1996. However, 3 years later Rocko's Modern Life creator struck gold once again with Spongebob Squarepants, the series that became a worldwide phenomenon. It has (so far) lasted 9 seasons, has spun off into 2 movies, a whole slew of comic books and, naturally, a good few videogames from the days of the Gameboy Color all the way up until now. Most of those games were crap, but with a few showing promise, I gave the latest Spongebob Squarepants game a try. How did go? Read on.

Developed by Behaviour Entertainment and out now from the Xbox 360, Playstation Vita and Nintendo 3DS comes Spongebob Heropants, a game that is literally the epitome of shovelware. It's by the development team who brought us classics like Victorious: Hollywood Arts Debut, High School Musical: Sing It! and Doritos Crash Course 2. So yeah, basically they're the shovelware masters, and seem to be focused on creating trash for a quick buck. Heropants fits perfectly alongside their previous efforts, but the real kicker here is the fact that even kids won't lap this shit up. It's terrible on all fronts!

The plot takes directly place after the second film, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Now I haven't seen an episode of Spongebob in awhile and neither have I seen the latest film, but I don't think I was missing out on anything plot-wise. The story here is pretty simple, and basically revolves around trouble brewing in Bikini Bottom after Spongebob dreams begin to become a reality. Utlising uperhero-like powers (apparently granted to them in the recent film), Spongebob, Patrick, Sandy, Squidward, Plankton and Mr. Krabs must work together in order to stop the demise of Bikini Bottom. It's a simple set-up, but one that could have kicked off some pretty interesting gameplay opportunities. Heropants doesn't just drop the ball there however- it drops it everywhere.
Heropants is a platform game, and one that not only looks like an original Playstation game, but also one that plays like one, and a very shitty one at that. We've seen this formula time and time again, and playing Heropants is like playing a relic from 1996. It's all here- soulless levels devoid of design and charm, extremely simplified objectives that even a small child will grow tired of, enemies that simply aim to walk directly into your attacks, puzzles that are one step away from “put the round bit in the round hole”, the age old and tired act of collecting coins, and boss battles that are just sloppily made. Needless to say, this is not a good game, but the forgiveable thing here is the fact that it's not even, you know- FUN! I wasn't looking for a masterpiece here, I was looking for a bit of fun with a yellow sponge that doesn't involve me sitting in a bath. Heropants isn't fun. It's just not. It's literally one of the most generic games I have ever played, and after playing 5 levels I was ready to give up.

The games big wild-card is the fact that you can not only play as 6 different characters, but you can also assume command of their superhero alter egos. You'd think that alone would open up room for the developers to really toy with the game mechanics, but no, you'll still double-jump to get to that platform, you'll still collect that key, you'll still kill that enemy with one hit and you'll still be hitting the jump button 400 times every level, only now you could be doing it while wearing a cape. Brilliant. If I wanted gameplay this simple I'd play Heavy Rain! Visually the game is dreadful too, with all versions of the game (PS Vita, 3DS, Xbox 360) looking incredibly bland, boring and sparse in terms of design and graphical flair. Granted there are always games out there made for the money, but holy f*ck, Heropants takes the cake- it's an abomination.

Spongebob Heropants is terrible. I'm one of those older gamers who can easily jump into a game intended for a young audience, but that wasn't the case with Heropants as it's honestly that bad. But don't get me wrong, even younger gamers won't put up with it either. They're smarter than we give them credit for, and with a whole slew of fun kids games on the market for a whole host of handhelds and consoles, Heropants should take a back-seat to all of them. Terrible.

Spongebob Heropants is just pants and get a 1/5.


Denis Murphy

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