For 10 years now the world has been enjoying the wacky antics of Spongebob Squarepants. He has been seen in every merchandising form imaginable, including a video game for most mainstream genres. Spongebob vs. The Big One: Beach Party Cookoff, however, is his first step into the world of cooking simulators.
Jack Kahuna Laguna is having a party, and The Chum Bucket and Krusty Krab are competing to cater the event. Being the cheapskate that he is, Plankton has alienated his cousins by refusing to pay them. So it is up to you to train them at the Krusty Krab! The intro is relayed in a Tom Kenny-voiced video, but from that point forward the story is related only through dialog bubbles. The game is loaded with Spongebob sound blurbs, though, all the way from the opening legal info to menu navigation to gameplay. (Sadly Johnny Depp, who voiced Laguna in the TV show’s 10th-anniversary episode, does not reprise his role here.)
You start off cooking only a few items from the Krusty Krab menu, but you’ll find there are an abundance of recipes to unlock as you play. The kitchen is split into four stations manned by Patrick, Squidward, Sandy, and Spongebob. You must make the requested meals by completing tasks such as cutting, kneading, flipping, stirring, and even garnishing. The better you complete this action on the touch screen, the more money you’ll make for cooking a delicious meal.
The game is loaded with customization, which is unusual given its target audience. The menu can be altered any way you’d like so that you don’t have to perform the same repetitive cooking techniques. The Krusty Krab’s dining-room theme can als be changed, and using certain themes with certain items on the menu will lead to bonus points. There is even a page showing how proficient you have become at all the different cooking motions.
The downside of the game lies in the pacing. Especially initially, the recipes require similar actions. In the end you will have more than 100 recipes to choose from utilizing close to 30 cooking activities. But it seems to take forever to acquire these. Even Gary’s card-shuffling and matching mode, which offers a significant change in your strategy, does not appear until after a couple of hours of gameplay.
If you are considering Beach Party Cookoff at all it’s probably as a gift for some kid. Really young ones may be confused by some of the extra customization options, but they can be overlooked without affecting gameplay. Anyone who currently watches Spongebob will be in for a real treat, because even the worst moments of Beach Party Cookoff are still more enjoyable than any of the episodes of Spongebob I have seen in the past few years.