Spongebob Squarepants Feature Nicktoons: Globs of Doom
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-12-04 Nintendo DS E (Everyone) THQ / Nickelodeon

Even though I'm definitely not the game's target audience, I was immediately interested when I heard another Nicktoons game was being released, as both Spongebob and Jimmy Neutron are two of my favorite shows, cartoon or otherwise.

This time around, Spongebob Squarepants Featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom for the DS lets players play as both their favorite Nickelodeon villains and heroes from some of the network's most popular shows. Along with Spongebob and Jimmy Neutron, three other heroes are available: Danny Phantom, Tak, and Zim (who joins with the side of good because he is curious as to what being a good guy is like). As for the villains, you have Plankton, Professor Calamitous, Technus, Dib and Tlaloc.

Bringing these unlikely characters together is the appearance of a villain named Globulous Maximus, who has released massive amount of globs to pollute each character's home world, along with allowing his legion of minions to run rampant throughout the universe. Unfortunately, even though there are multiple characters to interact with during the game, that is about as detailed as the storyline gets.

Instead of having villains team up with villains and heroes with heroes, the game puts a twist on the idea, and has one of each pair up in a sort of impromptu buddy system. Starting with Spongebob and Technus' run through Bikini Bottom, players will make their way through five sets of levels, each based in a different character's home world, with three levels and a boss battle making up each section of gameplay.

Each level is focused heavily on cooperation between the sides of good and evil. While the game itself can control the most basic of actions of your non-active character (such as defending themselves when in extremely close proximity to an enemy), you will essentially be in charge of the safety of both characters throughout each level. That is, you are given the ability to switch between active players on the fly in order to take advantage of the strengths each possess.

For instance, when playing as the team of Plankton and Danny Phantom, you will frequently need to ghost morph Danny through walls in order to hit a switch bringing down said wall so Plankton can follow, while in Spongebob and Technus levels, Spongebob must occasionally blow bubbles that both characters can ride to lift newer heights that Technus couldn't reach on his own. All in all, each character comes equipped with two unique moves or abilities that help in your progress throughout the game, and add a nice variation to the levels as a whole.

All of that being said, it should be easy to surmise that the game not only focuses on teamwork, but on a bit of puzzle work as well. That is, you can't simply run through a level from beginning to end by button mashing, as you?‚…ll consistently need to look out for areas only one character can enter in order to make your way through. Luckily, the game does a good job of presenting helpful hints along the way, along with posting signs and arrows that show you which character should go down a particular path.

While this system of gameplay is a promising idea, I'm sorry to say that it turned out to be pretty cumbersome in its execution. Each of your characters move at an annoyingly slow pace, and while there is an option for sprinting, gliding, etc. (depending on the character), when utilizing this feature, I often found myself sprinting uncontrollably off of platforms, into enemies and other precarious situations, making it easier, albeit slower, to just walk.

Likewise, as you are in control of two characters at once, fighting enemies can also create a bit of irritation, especially concerning those that utilize projectile weapons, as some characters, like Plankton, are short enough to allow you to run right under the line of fire, while others, if you are not actively using them, just stand there and allow themselves to be hit.

Another negative here is the repetitive level design throughout the title. While each world contains a very different theme, like jungle swings and dense foliage in Tak's home world of Pupununu and coral reefs in Spongebob's world of Bikini Bottom, the trio of levels set in each world lack variety and tend to be comprised of the same "Move character A to location A. Make character B move to location B to unlock door. Move character A to location C" type of pattern.

In an attempt to keep the gameplay interesting, secret items are located in certain levels, which can be obtained by sending either one or both of your characters off of the expected path into hard to reach locations. In addition to this, your performance at the end of each level is graded on various aspects, such as completion time, enemy defeat rate, and item collection percentage. While you are not penalized for achieving low grades, they do offer some incentive to play a level again in order to improve your score.

Another positive factor about the game as a whole comes when speaking of the game's technical aspects. The aforementioned level themes are of course a nice touch, and are adequate representations of their television inspirations. Furthermore, even though each television show is unique in its appearance, there is a nice continuity found throughout the game's design in the use of brightly colored foregrounds and softer backgrounds.

Similarly, the game's sound track also helps in connecting each world within the game as it presents appropriately themed, frantic songs that one would expect to be played during any car chase or fight sequence in a Hollywood action flick.

In the end, Globs of Doom is definitely more than your run of the mill side-scrolling platformer, but that in itself is both a good and a bad thing. While being able to control two characters at once is a nice change of pace from the standard fare normally released, it also causes too many annoyances to reach its full potential. And with the lack of a substantial storyline, there is little in the way of motivation to keep you going.

All in all, for those who are dedicated fans of the Nicktoons franchise or just fans of cooperative gameplay, the game is sure to please. However, for everyone else, I would suggest making this a rental before an actual purchase.

Special thanks to Kristina Kirk and THQ for providing a copy of this title.