SpongeBob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, Pants! (Game Boy Advance) - Review by Andrew
Since appearing on TV some years ago it's fair to say SpongeBob SquarePants has taken the cartoon world by storm appealing to both the intended pre-teen market and the rather less obvious degree level student. The reasons for this remain unclear but what is obvious is that this mixture of clever storytelling and original characters isn't going to disappear any time soon. The same is true SpongeBob's appearances on a variety of handheld formats with an impressive collection of titles spanning everything from the GBC to the latest DS. Lights, Camera, Pants! is a party game on the consoles and it mush have been tempting to produce something similar here. With Nintendo cornering the market on mini-game titles though the developers have wisely chosen to pursue a different path but was it the right one?
At its heart this latest SpongeBob outing is a platformer and the majority of levels challenge you to simply get from 'A' to 'B'. What is different about this game though is that in order to successfully navigate the entire level you'll have to switch between any one of four characters. This is because they all poses very different skills and while Patrick is able to break floors with a kind of heavy 'stomp' SpongeBob can make floating jumps which allow him to reach far greater heights. The reason for this exploration is simple: Golden Stars and the more of these you manage to collect the greater your spending power when you eventually get to Gil's Trailer. It's here you can purchase extra lives and unlock a whole host of mini-games.
You'll already have encountered most of the mini-games before you arrive at Gil's Trailer but there are still some surprises to uncover and once you have unlocked them you can revisit them at any time. Whilst none of the games here are at all original they are enjoyable and you'll be challenged to everything from a kind of 'Micro Machines' boat race to a 'Button Battle' where different keys correspond with a variety of dance moves. Theres even some arcade classics here such as the Burger Builder and Bully Ball (which is a neatly disguised bat and ball game). Even the platform formula is altered occasionally with timed levels and chase levels all, of which go a long way to keeping the gamers interest right to the end.
While each character has very different abilities you do actually control them all in the same way and even if this wasn't the case there's a generous amount of 'help' available throughout the game. In addition to this there's even a driving school to allow you to brush up your skills in one of the re-occurring mini-games.
The main characters are colouful, vibrant and incredibly well animated managing to retain the humor of the TV series. The backgrounds are just as appealing but given that this is the developer that gave the world Shantae on the GBC, it's the least you'd expect.
I know some reviewers found the soundtrack a little too repetitive but we really liked it and it really is one of the better pieces of game music you are likely to hear at the moment. There's no speech unfortunately but the sound effects are such good quality you can almost forgive this oversight.
While, as I mention before, SpongeBob has a far reaching appeal this game is squarely aimed at the children's market and, as a result, the game will be incredibly easy for the majority of GBA owners. On the plus side there is some genuine fun to be had with this title with the developers wisely mixing up the platforming action with a generous amount of mini-games. It's easy to just throw together a licensed game and we've reviewed enough of them to see how disastrous the results can be. It's clear here though that everyone involved cares a great deal about the characters in the game and we can't thank THQ enough for selecting Wayforward as the developer. There may have been a fair few SpongeBob games already but if Lights' Camera' Pants! is anything to go by we'd certainly welcome a lot more.
Pro: Great Mini-Games, Looks Wonderful.
Con: Not Very Original, Lacks Multiplayer.
Final score: 7.3
|Platform:||Game Boy Advance|
|Genre:||Party Games / Platformer|