"Globs tries to be Kim Possible meets The Lost Vikings, with inconsistent results."
SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom is for kids. It’s important that we establish that. While it’s true that the leading man, SpongeBob SquarePants himself, is adored by both the young and the not-so-young – the rest of the ten-character ensemble definitely caters specifically to the Nickelodeon set. After all, do you know who Danny Phantom is? Thought not.
Our criteria for gaming expectations adjusted accordingly, and we’re all set to do something about those blasted “Globs of Doom.” Globs looks and plays (mostly) like any other children’s franchise-based romp to make the trip to the GameBoy Advance or DS to date; it’s colourful, if basic, side-scrolling fare that employs the use of trademark gadgets recognizable to fans in order to spice things up and necessitate a modicum of problem-solving to earn progress. That’s the formula. Sadly, Kim Possible 2 for the GBA, did it better years ago with inferior hardware.
So Kim’s throne is not in trouble. And it’s not for want of trying – ironically, in its attempt to stray from the cutesy adventure blueprint, Globs of Doom manages to do what it sets out to do: etch out the shallow relief of a personality, but in so doing, manages also to provide less fun than we’re used to the blueprint providing. I applaud the developers for inserting their gameplay-altering twist to standard 2D platforming procedure, but in avoiding ho-hum, we arrive in the welcoming arms of tedium instead.
The twist is this: rather than control one of the ten characters of the cast one at a time toward completing the game, Globs of Doom has you use two characters at a time over five missions that take place in genuine locales (Bikini Bottom and the like). In close observation of standard action-game law, each mission has three stages and a boss to round things out. But in a bid to make things even more interesting, we’ve got a good guy paired up with a bad guy to tackle each mission. For fans of any of the shows, the resulting rapport between characters is probably a notable addition; for me, the in-between level banter couldn’t move along quickly enough.
Anyway, the idea of working in tandem to take on each level is all well and good, but it’s the way in which you must co-operate with each other that leaves much to be desired. Globs tries to be Kim Possible meets The Lost Vikings, with inconsistent results. Most often the two characters in your employ will start off together and have to move rightwards together. There are signs posted at regular intervals with arrows pointing up or down or forward, with one of the character’s faces on it, so that you know who the game means to go where. As in The Lost Vikings, each character will have a different skill set; (SpongeBob can blow bubbles and ride them into the ether, Jimmy Neutron can fly) so that your hero will gain access to some area that your villain cannot, and will hit a switch to clear the way for the villain. Your hero will meet an impasse, and you’ll switch to your villain, who will gain exclusive access to further foraging and unlock the way for the hero to keep going, and so on.
Unfortunately, the stop-and-start of the switching is constant (accordingly, so is the annoying exclamation the characters yell out each time they’re chosen), and rather irritating for an older, more experienced player. This isn’t the measured planning and deliberate character changing and placement we enjoyed in The Lost Vikings because Glob’s puzzles are fairly transparent, and so the frequent flip-flopping to keep things moving is simply tedious. For younger gamers, for whom I realize the game was intended, it seems to me that the switching might get confusing and a bit frustrating, as kids may lose their way, creating a “Wait, who do I use now? Where is Beautiful Gorgeous on the map?” sort of disorientation.
This is why I said that the spin on mundane platformer convention may have done more harm than good. Still, I’m glad they tried – the good guy, bad guy character swapping keeps SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom from being just another kiddy side-scroller, keeps it from feeling ‘me-too’ and gives it a genuine identity in a sea of similar games. That still won’t likely be enough to garner a replay by most players, but fans who just want to see their heroes in action will be happy enough that this star-studded cast was let loose in a decent game that tried a little something different.
Staff review by Marc Golding (November 19, 2008)
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