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[Interview] SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake dev on origins, gameplay, Switch version, more

Posted on January 29, 2023 by (@NE_Brian) in Interviews, Switch

SpongeBob SquarePants The Cosmic Shake interview Purple Lamp

Nintendo Everything recently had a chance to speak with Andreas “AJ” Jarzabek, a project manager at Purple Lamp, about SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake. This title follows a remake of Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, a remake of the 2003 3D platformer.

We discussed a range of topics with Jarzabek, including the origins of Cosmic Shake, different gameplay aspects, the Switch version, and more. You can delve into our full interview below.

What led to this opportunity to build something totally new for the SpongeBob franchise?

The overwhelming success of our remake SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated showed that our team at Purple Lamp was ready to take the next step. Ultimately, the continued support from Nickelodeon, THQ Nordic and the best fans in the world made The Cosmic Shake possible.

Did the team feel any pressure to get the game right given how long it’s been since the last brand new SpongeBob 3D platformer?

Of course we did, but we would always refer to it as “positive pressure”. Working on such a big IP that has been out there for over 20 years with a massive and loyal fan base and generations that grew up with Spongebob means that you have a lot of responsibility and that you need to respect the source material. And Battle For Bikini Bottom is regarded by most players to be the best SpongeBob game ever created. So we knew that the expectations would be sky high but we also learned a lot from creating Rehydrated.

Having the original voice cast and music from the show, working closely with the writers from Nickelodeon and using tons of source material and references were only some of the pillars we based our design on. We are of course especially proud that we were given the opportunity of adding new elements and characters to this very special franchise.

What did Purple Lamp take away from working on SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated? What sort of lessons were learned from that experience?

Biggest learning was that we have a beloved IP and a lot of fans who really care about it. Battle for Bikini Bottom really makes people feel like they’re playing multiple SpongeBob episodes. We wanted to double down on that feeling.
The positive feedback and encouragement we’ve received from the fans of both games really mean the world to us. Their feedback helped us set the main focus points of our designs. And the constructive feedback from the speedrunning community helped us identify the best gameplay flow. We focused on fan service, fun interactions and fluid platforming – everything is movement, even when you are fighting enemies.

We also gave every enemy a unique personality and charming animations, much like in Battle for Bikini Bottom.

How did you go about choosing the themes/locations for each of the game’s worlds? Were there any ideas for levels that didn’t make the cut?

We always thought of The Cosmic Shake as a spiritual successor of Battle for Bikini Bottom. The player should always feel familiar but also experience fresh ideas, new takes on familiar locations. For example Jellyfish Fields turned into our Wild West world and the Kelp Forest got a prehistoric setting.

This way we had a solid base to start from, but enough creative freedom to add our own ideas. That’s also why we decided to do themed WishWorlds, rather than basing the levels directly on the Wild West, medieval and prehistoric episodes of the series. Of course these episodes were still a huge inspiration!

I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have even more ideas for levels, and hopefully players will welcome The Cosmic Shake as warmly as they did Rehydrated and we’ll be able to deliver more SpongeBob action in the future.

How open are the various worlds in the game, and how much exploration can players expect?

Overall levels are similar in size as the levels in Rehydrated. We focused on adding more big story moments, cinematic cut-scenes and side quests to the game. Compared to Battle for Bikini Bottom, there’s a lot more revisiting challenges and missions in The Cosmic Shake. Abilities that you unlock later in the game give you access to new activities in earlier levels. This encourages you to explore every nook and cranny of the game world, to find all golden doubloons and unlock the more than thirty costumes available in the game!

Which WishWorld are you proud of the most? If you could add another unique WishWorld to the game, what would it be?

It is hard to pick one, as it is strongly tied to which episode is your personal favourite. Our designers and artists put a lot of effort into each single WishWorld, and each world has a different game feel. The Prehistoric Kelp Forest is focused on classic jump-and-run action, while Karate Downtown Bikini Bottom is – you guessed it – more focused on fighting.
Personally, Prehistoric Kelp Forest is my favourite, because it has some of the most elaborate platforming sections of the game. And the prehistoric episodes that inspired the level are simply iconic.

If I personally could do another WishWorld, it would probably be one focused on Plankton, as he’s my favourite character. Maybe with vikings? Always good to have a couple of Olafs.

Has the platforming changed at all since Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated? What new mechanics will players encounter?

Rehydrated had an overall slower pacing and a bigger focus on timing your jumps perfectly. The Cosmic Shake is a faster paced, more story-driven game, which challenges you to combine SpongeBob’s various skills in the best way. By focusing on SpongeBob as the only playable character, we were able to give him a very wide range of fun abilities.

In total we have over 10 different skills that SpongeBob can learn and use. One of our favorites is the brand-new “Karate Kick” that SpongeBob can use both to defeat enemies and to travers quickly through certain level sections. You can then chain the Kick with other abilities like the “Bubble Surfboard” or the “Pizza Box Glide”.

How has it been developing for Switch? Has a final frame rate and resolution been determined?

The great thing about the Nintendo Switch, is that you know players will be able to play your game anywhere they go. And we knew our previous SpongeBob title was, and still is, very popular on the Switch. We had dedicated resources throughout the whole development focusing on delivering and optimizing the game on Switch to deliver a smooth experience with 30fps, both in hand-held and docked.

With the game containing so many throwbacks to classic episodes of the TV series, what are some of the brand new story elements or environments that players will experience?

We are very proud to present a completely new character that was created for The Cosmic Shake’s story line. Madama Kassandra is a mysterious fortune teller, who helps SpongeBob clean up the mess he and Patrick created. Or so it seems…
For us this means a lot as you rarely get the opportunity to add new characters to such a well established IP. We are really looking forward to the player’s feedback about her and we hope they will love her as much as we do!

Are there any plans for post-launch content either in the form of updates or DLC?

There are no major DLCs planned for now. We will of course continue to improve the game, based on the feedback from the fans. And if players missed the chance to grab the Costume Pack DLC as a pre-order bonus, they can still buy it after release.

Purple Lamp has made two SpongeBob games in just a few years, but do you feel like there’s still more room in the tank for the studio to continue working with the IP? Does the team have interest in developing more games based on the franchise?

We live and breathe SpongeBob at Purple Lamp and yes, we still have so many ideas we would love to bring to life in future SpongeBob games. We hope players will have as much fun playing as we had making this new and exciting instalment to the series and that we will continue this journey together for many years and games to come.

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake launches for Switch on January 31, 2023.

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