As SpongeBob, the player embarks on an undersea quest to find the Flying Dutchman's Golden Spatula in order to become the ocean's greatest short-order cook. Along the way, SpongeBob meets and interacts with many of the show's popular recurring characters like Mr. Krabs, Squidward, Sandy, and Patrick. The game uses elements of adventure and side-scrolling gameplay.
The game has received mostly mixed and mediocre reviews. Frank Provo of GameSpot said "One could argue that SpongeBob SquarePants: Legend of the Lost Spatula is geared toward the younger audience of the TV series, which would explain the game's simplified gameplay and lack of variety. However, while the plot is endearing and the characters will no doubt appeal to the series' fans, there is no evidence to suggest that children would actually enjoy playing a game this unremarkable--let alone adults." Provo criticized the game for its "simplified gameplay" and "lack of variety," but gave praise to the graphics, saying the game "at least looks decent". Jon Griffith of IGN complimented the game as a "decent platformer" with "large levels, multiple objectives, and amusing characters" but criticized it for its password saving system, confusing level design, and difficulty in certain aspects of gameplay.
Although this is the first SpongeBob SquarePants video game, it is not the first video game SpongeBob SquarePants has been featured in. The first game SpongeBob SquarePants was featured in was NickToons Racing for the PlayStation and GBA, even though it is a crossover game featuring tons of characters from other franchises.