SpongeBob Squarepants is as loved by adults as he is kids. The popular Nickelodeon cartoon character has been around for an incredible 14 years and he’s showing no signs of stopping. As the ninth season is currently airing in the US, Bikini Bottom’s finest resident has moved to iOS for his latest venture SpongeBob Moves In.
SpongeBob Moves In allows players to build their own Bikini Bottom. The first time you play you see a cut-scene with SpongeBob being dropped off in Bikini Bottom by his parents. Once there it’s up to you to help SpongeBob build the underwater city and move in all of the residents we’ve come to know and love such as Patrick, Mr Krabs, Squidward and Sandy the Squirrel. The game immediately brings to mind other city-building games such as SimCity and the much-loved Theme Park.
Using the touchscreen it’s up to you to place buildings, grow the city and make the residents happy. SpongeBob collects rent from all of the buildings you place and he must achieve targets set throughout the game such as growing a specified number of tomatoes or moving in certain characters. Each activity that SpongeBob does takes time (this is displayed on the screen) but you can skip the building time by using jellyfish jelly provided you have it. You can buy extra land to expand the town and you can place scenic objects around to give it a nicer look and feel.
By fulfilling wishes of the residents, which is usually cooking for them and feeding them, you get coins and happiness stars. The happiness stars are indicated at the top of the screen and filling the meter unlocks the next level up.
One of the criticisms we’ve seen about the game is the in-app purchase system. The game itself costs £2.49 to buy but there are lots of other things that can be bought whilst you’re playing the game. It is a little bit cheeky as the most likely purchase you’ll make is jelly so you can speed things up. It’s not easy to come by and waiting for things to be built/cooked/made can make the game feel very slow at times.
Visually the game recreates the world of Bikini Bottom fairly faithfully. There’s voice work from the cast and the characters look great. SpongeBob though is oddly square and looks a little different to how we’re accustomed to seeing him. It’s not a huge problem but it does slightly tarnish the experience.
SpongeBob Moves In is an addictive game. We whiled away hours playing it and found it a joy to be immersed in Bikini Bottom. Younger fans of the show will lap this up whilst older gamers may get frustrated at the slow pace that hampers the earlier parts of the game. SpongeBob Moves In is by no means perfect but we had a lot of fun with it. We think the in-app purchases should be reconsidered but overall we enjoyed it.