SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated Review – Expired Nostalgia

Nearing the end of SpongeBob’s journey under the sea, you’re tasked with guiding a ball through a giant Rube Goldberg machine in Mermaid Man’s Lair. Once you activate the machine you have to match the ball’s painstakingly slow speed while using SpongeBob’s arsenal of bubble abilities to make sure it doesn’t fall over. It’s a simple task in concept, but trying to execute it is some of the most unfun and Sisyphean gameplay in recent memory. In one section of the puzzle, all you need to do is stand on a button, and that button opens a gate for you to bowl a bubble into so you can progress. The only problem is that during SpongeBob’s wind-up animation for bowling, he walks forward. That means you fall off of the button, which closes the gate and prevents you from bowling the bubble where you intended, when you intended. These kinds of gameplay barricades are common, and force you to restart and face your demons again, and again, and again.

SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is rarely amusing or challenging, and completing it is an entirely dry experience. It looks nice, and brings back fond memories of a classic cartoon through iconic set pieces and tight voice acting, but its uncomfortable and outdated mechanics make you feel frustratingly trapped and are ultimately outclassed by countless other modern and classic platformers.

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SpongeBob is a show built on rapid-fire humour and good pacing, but this game misses that mark. The game is a remake of the 2003 cult classic 3D collect-a-thon platformer of the same name. There were three versions of the original: a 2D platformer, a 3D platformer, and one full of minigames. This version took me around 20 hours to play through the main story and get a bunch of bonus collectibles, and from the movement to the jokes, the whole thing feels slow, with none of the comedic timing that makes the show so beloved.

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The Last Of Us Part 2 Spoiler Review – Bleak And Beautiful

Editor’s note: You may have seen our spoiler-free The Last of Us Part II review, originally published on June 12, 2020. Due to a strict embargo, we were limited in what aspects of the game we could touch on in that review. While I critiqued the game in full for that embargo, there may be some parts of the review that could use more explanation. Now that the embargo has lifted and the game is now available, I’ve expanded on my thoughts here; this review has the same arguments and score as the first one and is simply more detailed in my analysis. Note that this review contains spoilers, including one major character death.

The Last of Us Part II begins with serious tonal whiplash. One moment, Ellie and her close friend Dina are becoming more than friends in a basement filled with weed plants and Naughty Dog porn puns; the next, Joel is being savagely beaten to death with a golf club. It’s the first of many, many gruesome deaths. Some happen whether you want them to or not, in intimate cutscenes that are hard to watch, while others happen just because an NPC got in between you and your objective and killing them was the easiest thing to do. Either way, that brief glimpse of happiness at the beginning is left very much in the dust.

But while the scale and severity of death and loss in this game is incredibly high, The Last of Us Part II is more a character study than a musing on the nature of violence. On that front, the story of Ellie, her playable foil Abby, and their quests for revenge and redemption is a gripping and harrowing one, and I found myself deeply emotionally entangled with each woman and her strengths and flaws. The bloodshed is very much a part of that story, but it’s far from the most effective one, and it’s where the game stumbles a bit.

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The Last Of Us Part 2 Review (Spoiler Version)

Editor’s note: You may have seen our spoiler-free The Last of Us Part II review, originally published on June 12, 2020. Due to a strict embargo, we were limited in what aspects of the game we could touch on in that review. While I critiqued the game in full for that embargo, there may be some parts of the review that could use more explanation. Now that the embargo has lifted and the game is now available, I’ve expanded on my thoughts here; this review has the same arguments and score as the first one and is simply more detailed in my analysis. Note that this review contains spoilers, including one major character death.

The Last of Us Part II begins with serious tonal whiplash. One moment, Ellie and her close friend Dina are becoming more than friends in a basement filled with weed plants and Naughty Dog porn puns; the next, Joel is being savagely beaten to death with a golf club. It’s the first of many, many gruesome deaths. Some happen whether you want them to or not, in intimate cutscenes that are hard to watch, while others happen just because an NPC got in between you and your objective and killing them was the easiest thing to do. Either way, that brief glimpse of happiness at the beginning is left very much in the dust.

But while the scale and severity of death and loss in this game is incredibly high, The Last of Us Part II is more a character study than a musing on the nature of violence. On that front, the story of Ellie, her playable foil Abby, and their quests for revenge and redemption is a gripping and harrowing one, and I found myself deeply emotionally entangled with each woman and her strengths and flaws. The bloodshed is very much a part of that story, but it’s far from the most effective one, and it’s where the game stumbles a bit.

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The Last Of Us Part 2 Review (Spoilers)

Editor’s note: You may have seen our spoiler-free The Last of Us Part II review, originally published on June 12, 2020. Due to a strict embargo, we were limited in what aspects of the game we could touch on in that review. While I critiqued the game in full for that embargo, there may be some parts of the review that could use more explanation. Now that the embargo has lifted, I’ve expanded on my thoughts here; this review has the same arguments and score as the first one and is simply more detailed in my analysis. Note that this review contains spoilers, including one major character death.

The Last of Us Part II begins with serious tonal whiplash. One moment, Ellie and her close friend Dina are becoming more than friends in a basement filled with weed plants and Naughty Dog porn puns; the next, Joel is being savagely beaten to death with a golf club. It’s the first of many, many gruesome deaths. Some happen whether you want them to or not, in intimate cutscenes that are hard to watch, while others happen just because an NPC got in between you and your objective and killing them was the easiest thing to do. Either way, that brief glimpse of happiness at the beginning is left very much in the dust.

But while the scale and severity of death and loss in this game is incredibly high, The Last of Us Part II is more a character study than a musing on the nature of violence. On that front, the story of Ellie, her playable foil Abby, and their quests for revenge and redemption is a gripping and harrowing one, and I found myself deeply emotionally entangled with each woman and her strengths and flaws. The bloodshed is very much a part of that story, but it’s far from the most effective one, and it’s where the game stumbles a bit.

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Valorant Review – A Valiant Effort

Think Counter-Strike with hero elements. That’s the elevator pitch for Valorant, Riot Games’ debut on the competitive first-person shooter scene. I say that not to disparage Valorant, though. In fact, that’s what I love most about it, especially since it executes on the formula extremely well. Valorant thrives because of tight, tactical gameplay and a mix of character-based abilities that provide a necessary strategic layer. Although it’s a slim package with limited features and barren presentation, Valorant has the potential to be great.

The core mode of Valorant revolves around five-on-five matches in a best of 25 rounds with two teams of attackers and defenders of bomb sites, switching sides about halfway through. The stakes are high as everyone gets only one life per round, and the focus on precise gunplay with low time-to-kill leaves little margin for error. Teams must account for buying guns, armor, and ability charges based on money allocated (depending on performance) on a per-round basis. In turn, each round maintains a high level of intensity as the tide of advantage can shift at any moment.

Agents introduce an essential X-factor to the mix with their unique abilities as well. While it’s easy to compare them to heroes/classes from other games, Valorant’s Agent abilities function more like gear in a loadout. Two are subject to limited uses per round (but thankfully carry over even if you’re killed) while a default ability subject to cooldown or replenish upon kills. Knowing how and when to execute these abilities, including Ultimates that can come in clutch, is key especially for highly competitive matches.

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