I played more stuff that I havent posted about in here.
And I have a big blob of oldies that I replayed and need to write about... maybe another day.
I don't know Spongebob very well, never played the original, but I do like collectathons.
First impression: I had to turn down the gamma. I have never, ever had to do that, in any game.
It's just far too bright and colorful! And yes, it looks really fantastic, way better than the original that seemingly was a bit drab for the franchise. But it's a tad much, especially in the hub world. Just an explosion of colors at times. Music is as expected from a Spongebob episode too, but I also ended up lowering it a bit, because the short loops get a bit grating.
And finding a hub world, a simple, but functional one in a 3D platformer, with little secrets and its own puzzles? We dont get that too often nowadays.
It does not hold a candle to the levels themselves though, which are... surprisingly well done, and no doubt flavorful for the fans of Spongebob. The amount of verticality and shortcuts to unlock was a really nice surprise, I didn't expect to find levels that are mostly pretty smart and well paced, they are not just long corridors or fairly empty areas, they are indeed pretty packed with content, with enough little challenges along the way and lots of money tokens to gather if you're so inclined (and you do need a lot if you want to unlock bonuses later), it almost feels a bit like an adventure game at times when you go back to earlier parts of a level because you've unlocked new mechanisms or opened new ways.
Pretty cool stuff, way better than I ever expected from a licensed game! Even big names can really flop their levels - totally not thinking about a third of Mario Odyssey here...
Gameplay wise... it feels a tad jankier. Having three characters with slightly different abilities is cool, but Spongebob definitely has way more than Patrick and Sandy since he unlocks some along the way in the hub while they do not. And some puzzles genuinely ask you to use his full toolkit, quickly and correctly... surprisingly more complex than just "jump and use attack button" sometimes. Too bad there's not a lot of those, but it's very welcome.
Sandy being able to float for extended periods of time, I was worried it would make the game simplistic, but the level design usually takes her ability in consideration, and you can't cheese content made for Bob or Patrick, so that's good... but poor Patrick is an afterthought, his capacity to lift heavy objects is seldom used, and being able to freeze the "water goo" to walk on for a handful of short "walk here missions"... definitely both the least interesting, and clunkier to use in combat out of the three. He even has less dedicated content than the two others.
But at least he has his uses against bosses, some of them require you to play multiple character one after the other for each phase, they are not hard, but hey, they work.
I did not end up finishing it 100% - the main tokens are straightforward and even have little hints in the menu if you miss something, but the game asks you to find a crazy amount of money to unlock bonuses, and I didn't want to grind them out.
Still, I had a great time with the game, it's far better than I expected it to be, and I see why the fans loved it so much.
An easy 7.5/10 from me, and I imagine that fans can add an extra point to see their cartoon playable with this quality.
A recent one.
And I dropped it.
I like the way it looks, it's decent 2D, and the sound design is very solid, reminds me a lot of Metroid. But the combat... I do not dislike having a gun that does more damage the closer you are and heats up fast, making your melee attack stronger, I think that's a god concept.
But it also makes you very vulnerable, and with movement being fairly slow and enemy tells being not that readable... it's not that great.
However, that wouldn't be such a problem if it didn't involve Souls mechanics, but with full loss of all your XP on death (and its use to upgrade your character stats being so linear for a metroidvania)... with the option to remove some of the loss, but not completely, and it does nothing to the extremely limited number of "bonfires".
It just doesn't feel that great, it's unnecessarily punishing, and it is... just plain.
But at least it made me yearn for a metroidvania, so I played instead:
Obviously, the visuals being made in UE4, it's quite striking. Maybe the best looking metroidvania around? They certainly went all out for the steampunk-furry-Honk Kong style.
It does look great, and while I was worried that zones would all be a bit samey, it didn't end up being the case, there is good variety here. Well for zones anyway, enemy models repeat a lot (if with new abilities).
And it's all done well, but very, very by the book. get new movement abilities, explore new areas to progress the meager story, do some light puzzles, platforming... all very decent.
But it's combat where it shines, with three veeeery different weapons, and a good amount of extended combos for each that you can also combine together.
As a rarity for an action game like this, longer combos are truly useful, as they will stunlock basic ennemies and even break the poise of bosses in order to accumulate large amounts of damage - much more than you would do by just doing basic three hit combos (not that you cannot do that, but it's a lot slower). It both makes the HP pools not feel too large, but also gives you hyperarmor when you use longer ones, so it does feel surprisingly good and effective to go for longer chains rather than hit-and-run tactics like souls-likes all too often end up being.
The exploration and the platforming is perfectly competent, if, again, expected. You will get your wall jumps, double jumps, dashes, graplin hooks, etc.
Your character isn't slow, but the game being very, VERY large, and fast travel options like the tram and the lemming ball being very limited makes it a bit more painful than it should be, though... compounded by the fact that some levels you really don't have a reason to come back to later.
Levels might be well done, but if they're not very well linked, it's definitely a negative for a metroidvania.
As for the story, it's more than a little light. Too bad, because the world is interesting, the little snippets of before their world turned to this steampunk dystopia could have been expanded... there's very little time to find and appreciate the little furry characters and their motivations.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Decent exploration, very good combat and very classic mechanics done well. But I would advise against trying to complete it fully, it definitely felt tiring to try to get all the upgrades and explore each level at 100%.
Curious about a follow up from the dev, but for now that will be 7.5/10.