Ask any child – heck, even most adults – and they’ll know who Spongebob Squarepants is, along with Patrick Star, Mr. Krabs, Squidward, and the rest of the crew. They might even know the entire theme song by heart, which in itself is an amazing feat. Truly, Spongebob Squarepants is one of Nickelodeon’s most iconic and endearing cartoon series, and it has spawned various merchandise, as well as some great video games. Unfortunately, Spongebob Moves In is not one of those.
Spongebob Moves In tells the story of the day when the eponymous yellow sponge moved into Bikini Bottom, which may or may not be part of the cartoon canon. During this time, the town is much less lively, and there are only a few citizens to interact with. The player must now build shops, add decors, and perform other tasks in order to slowly build Bikini Bottom into a place worth living in, which in turn would attract more colorful characters that will be added to the current populace.
Spongebob Moves In is your typical building sim game, and you will spend most of your time waiting for structures to be completed, and for items to be harvested and collected. The game also focuses on the fulfillment of wishes, as NPCs will have different requirements, which will serve as quests, and it’s up to Spongebob to perform these tasks in exchange for coins that will allow him to further improve and expand on Bikini Bottom.
Further play will also unlock items to be purchased, using either coins or premium currency in the form of jellyfish jelly. Jellyfish jelly is pretty difficult to come by, as in most games, and this is where players might be put off by this title. Many items within the game will require an obscene amount of jelly, making progression highly difficult without the use of in-app purchases, which Spongebob Moves In tries to offer you any chance that it gets. This, along with the long wait times, will probably make you feel as if the 3.99 USD asking price is not worth it as compared to The Simpsons: Tapped Out which pretty much offers the same type of gameplay but is available for download free of charge.
Still, the title pretty much offers up some good points as well, as it was able to utilize the licensed characters well. Aside from popular characters and areas featured in the show making their appearances in the game, players will also be able to unlock cutscenes depicting Spongebob interacting with others within the game. However, most of the dialogue seem bland and uninspired with very few funny jokes, and it might seem as if the team behind the show were not involved in the writing of the story. With this, Spongebob Moves In would seem like a generic city building game even without the more popular characters as its cast, and that would seem like such a waste considering that this is an actual licensed game.
The game also suffers from poor graphics, which is not to say that the characters are not recognizable, because they are. However, character sprites and other elements are way too small, and it’s quite difficult to navigate the surroundings especially if you have small devices or larger fingers than usual. This will further add onto the frustration as you might find yourself clicking at the wrong thing over and over again.
With all of these factors going against it, Spongebob Moves In is a pretty forgettable game, even if you are a die hard fan of the genre. You’re much better off with the dozens of other games that will also allow you to perform quests and build your own city, and if the resulting area does not resemble Bikini Bottom in any way, then so be it. It would certainly not be worth what you pay for, as well as the time you’ll be spending, to create your own Bikini Bottom from scratch.
The animated shorts, however, are quite enjoyable, albeit lacking the original show’s usual kick. It’s a nice game to download for your kid, but it is highly recommended that you make the necessary settings to disallow in-app purchases, as you’ll risk racking up high costs due to ill advised jelly purchases. If you’re downloading the game for you, however, be prepared to feel disappointment of varying degrees as you see your favorite undersea characters demoted to panhandling and bland caricatures of themselves. Guaranteed, this is one game that you will not enjoy as much as you’ll expect it to be, and you might as well throw Spongebob Moves In back to the sea where it belongs.
Tested on iPhone. Final Score: 3/10
Spongebob Moves in was developed and produced by Nickelodeon Kids & Family. It is available for both the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices and was made available via iTunes on June 6, 2013.