SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera Pants! Review
I don’t remember when I first learned of Spongebob Squarepants, but I do remember that “huh?” reaction I had. Someone had some funky dreams the night before they came into work and came up with the idea for this Nicktoon. But, it works. And not just for kids but for adults. THQ has been developing games for the Nicktoons line of cartoons for several years now and 2005 remains my favorite year – that was the year they were all co-op. That was the year the games could be played in a household with more than one kid! And Spongebob Sqaurepants Lights, Camera, Pants! remains both my favorite in terms of fun play and most played even a year later.
The premise of the tale is thus: a big movie company has come to Bikini Bottom to produce “The New Adventures of Mermaidman and Barnacleboy” and they need talent for the bit parts. To find those most suitable, they’ve set up a series of tournaments where you perform “auditions”. Here you show off your skills while earning popularity points. At the end of each tournament a winner is chosen for that particular scene in the movie.
The game does a fantastic job of bringing Bikini Bottom to life. You get to play one of seven characters: Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Sandy or Plankton. There is no advantage to playing one over another; you just get to pick your favorite. All of the voice acting is done by the actors from the series and the animation is spot-on. The truly fun comes when earn a bit-part in a scene – each character has his own unique lines.
The tournament is made up of a series of five mini-games. These aren’t your traditional 30-second mini-games. These take an average of three minutes a piece to complete and more often than not are divided into degrees of difficulty. They start out easy and progressively get harder. You have single player and team games and they really are simply fun!
Some examples of a few of my favorite games are:
- Order Up – In this game, you and a partner are working at the Krusty Krab as either a waiter or cook and must deliver orders to tables. The waiter goes to a table where he learns the order (sees a series of buttons). He then returns to the counter and tells the cook the order (repeats the series of buttons). The cook must then complete the order (fill the tray with food). Then the waiter must return the order to the right customer (it’s color-coded). You’ll switch places half-way through.
- Beats Me – Depending on where you’re standing, you’ll have a musical instrument (drums, clarinet, etc). Squlliam will beat out a pattern and if you’re highlighted, you need to repeat the pattern. Sometimes, there will be more than one of you!
These are only two of the more than thirty games available to play. I think what I enjoy most about the games is that they’re less dependent on luck than skill but none are particularly difficult. Some are downright silly – Inflatable Pants has you running a race by blowing air into your pants while trying to avoid nets in your way – but by having five games per tournament and team play, you give even the least experienced player the ability to earn popularity points. This coupled with alternate endings for each character and it’s an infinitely replayable game.
There’s one more thing about Lights, Camera, Pants! that puts it on my list of “must haves”; it’s available for Playstation 2, GameCube and Xbox. Rarely are “kid’s” games available on the Xbox but this one is; and, since you can play with up to four players, there’s an advantage to purchasing it on the more adult system.
I really can’t recommend this game enough. After 16 months, this is a game that is pulled off the shelf each time new company - and old – comes over and we’re looking for a bit of laughter and fun. It’s a perfect family game or something that works for when you’ve got multiple kids in the house. The AI is smart enough to handle even the load kid – whether he be 8 or 28. The appeal of Spongebob really is universal. Lights…. Camera…..Pants!