Sponge Bob SquigglePants: Mini-Games Galore, Matey

Geek Culture

SpongeBob SquigglePants by THQ for the Nintendo WiiSpongeBob SquigglePants by THQ for the Nintendo Wii

Screenshot: THQ

You ever find yourself halfway through a too-big bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, fingers all fake-cheese powdery and think, “I haven’t been hungry for twenty minutes now, so why am I still – ” >crunch,crunch<

That’s the kind of inexplicable addiction I found in THQ’s new SpongeBob SquigglePants game, which makes use of the company’s uDraw GameTablet.

In my original review of the uDraw, I hoped for some games that took better advantage of the tablet as a controller, and SpongeBob SquigglePants is a step in the right direction.

Number One SpongeBob fan Patchy the Pirate hosts the introduction and cutscenes, but there’s really not much to tell in the way of a story: It’s the barest of frameworks set up so you can play the hundred-plus “nanogames” that make up the heart of SpongeBob SquigglePants.

SpongeBob SquigglePants by THQ for the Nintendo WiiSpongeBob SquigglePants by THQ for the Nintendo Wii

Screenshot: THQ

Presented in themed bunches of 20 with different styles of art, the nanogames are designed to be completed in less than five seconds and consist of completing a single action which is flashed briefly on the screen beforehand. You might have to flick the uDraw pen with the proper timing to flip a Krabby Patty, for instance, or mimic a set of muiscal notes by tapping the tip against the drawing surface. Other goals require shaking the tablet, tilting it, or clicking the stylus nib as fast as you can. Complete the series of 20 without exceeding your alloted number of failures – the challenges come at you faster as you progress – and you unlock the next set.

None of the tests are complex (in some cases, you actually take no action at all), but the time crunch means the challenge is in processing the instructions and executing the proper move with the right timing.

The gameplay will be familiar to anyone who’s played WarioWare: Touched! on the Nintendo DS or the similar Wii title, Smooth Moves. In some ways, playing SquigglePants felt very much like having an oversized DS hooked up to the television, but with way cooler art.

That similarity held a huge appeal to my 14-year-old daughter, who absolutely loved the DS WarioWare when she was younger, and she immediately declared similar sentiments for this one.

As far as the rapid play goes, not having to invest a particularly large amount of time to enjoy a few rounds is nice, but I wish THQ had incorporated a multiplayer – the hectic pace as the play speeds up would be fun with two or more people taking their turns at the nanogames.

SpongeBob geeks like us (Oh, it is too a geeky cartoon: They put Nosferatu in an episode once – Nosferatu!) will be pleased as pineapple with the range of original art created for the game, which includes segments done in classic action comic and pulp horror movie styles. And appearances by the likes of Mermaid Man and the Alaskan Bull Worm are better than canned bread.

Advancing through the game unlocks the ability to play the nanogames individually for high scores and uncovers different SpongeBob artwork, too.

SpongeBob SquigglePants probably isn’t a game for everyone: If you’re one of those people who don’t get the rapid-fire and repetitive appeal of WarioWare-type games, this one won’t change your mind. And the brief musical clips that accompany every puzzle as it’s played will probably drive a few parents bonkers with earwigs.

Wired: In-jokes aplenty and impressive new art will appeal to SpongeBob enthusiasts; rapid-fire gameplay reminiscent of Nintendo’s addictive WarioWare titles.

Tired: No multiplayer; anti-nanogamers should steer well clear.

Disclosure: THQ provided GeekDad with a copy of the game for this review.

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