The game generally sticks to the same plot as the movie; the key difference is the fact that the game heavily exaggerates some of the scenes and areas in the movie (for example, SpongeBob, unlike in this game, never explored Planktopolis in the movie).
There are three versions of the game:
The Gameboy Advance version.
The console versions on PS2, Xbox and Gamecube.
The PC version.
The PlayStation 3 Digital Download.
There are 18 levels in the game that edge around the storyline of the movie.
SpongeBob: (Main Protagonist), A happy yellow sponge who fry cooks at the Krusty Krab and goes to get King Neptune's crown. His attacks are mostly distance-based. All of his moves have been copied from Battle for Bikini Bottom, but have changed their look, as all of his moves in BFBB had a bubble aesthetic. His disadvantage is that some enemies (Spinner) are resistant to his attacks. SpongeBob is also physically weaker than Patrick, so in some areas, he may need Patrick to cross.
Karate Spin: SpongeBob's basic attack in which he uses his red karate gloves to attack. When upgraded, they become metal gloves and can reflect enemy projectiles back at them (Flinger, Popper, and Merv). They also do more damage to enemies, usually making them take one less hit to kill. Basically the Bubble Spin from BFBB.
Bash: SpongeBob's secondary attack in which he flies into the air and uses a red boxing glove to attack enemies directly above him (Flinger, Merv), push buttons and hit floating crates. When upgraded, it becomes a spiked metal glove that will stick to things and detonate, destroying anything in the explosion range. They also do more damage than the unupgraded variant. Available when SpongeBob has 5 Goofy Goober Tokens. Basically the Bubble Bash in BFBB.
Sponge Bowl: SpongeBob's third attack in which he rolls a yellow bowling ball that can press buttons, defeat enemies and destroy crates. When upgraded, it becomes a spiked bomb that can destroy nearby things and detonate destroying everything in an explosion range. Available when SpongeBob has 20 Goofy Goober Tokens. Basically the Bubble Bowl in BFBB.
Sonic Wave: SpongeBob's long-ranged attack in which he uses a guitar and portable amp to send a wave of energy that can be steered to press far-off buttons, and destroy distant enemies or crates. When upgraded, it becomes SpongeBob's "Goofy Goober Guitar" that sends a wave of energy that can lock on to even further targets, also doing more damage. It can only be used for six seconds and will destroy on impact. Available when SpongeBob has 40 Goofy Goober Tokens. Essentially to the Cruise Bubble in BFBB.
Patrick: (Deuteragonist), A happy pink starfish and best friend of SpongeBob. His attacks are primarily physical. Patrick's main disadvantage is that he is slower than SpongeBob and some enemies (Flinger, Popper, and Merv) are unaffected and harder for him to defeat. Interestingly, unlike SpongeBob, Patrick’s moveset was not simply copied from BFBB, but has been tweaked to make him much more versatile. This is most likely because you could also play as Sandy in BFBB, so they made up for that by improving and changing Patrick’s moves, one of which is actually one of Sandy’s moves from BFBB.
Star Spin: Patrick's basic attack in which spins his arms to attack. When upgraded, it is a stronger spin that can reflect enemy projectiles, (Flinger, Popper, Merv) and do more damage to enemies. The Star Spin replaces Patrick's Belly Attack in BFBB, which only attacked in one direction.
Cartwheel: Patrick's new secondary attack in which he does a fast cartwheel that destroys anything in his path. It can be useful for destroying groups of enemies or making escapes. When upgraded, it resembles an orange comet with a tail and shield that destroys anything that comes too close Available when Patrick has 2 Goofy Goober Tokens.
Smash: Patrick's third move in which he jumps into the air and lands on his butt destroying enemies, particularly ones with defense on the sides but not from above like Spinners, breaking through floors and pressing buttons on the ground. When upgraded, he lands on his belly, stunning nearby enemies there by allowing him to pick up and throw them (When he earns the "Throw Move"), as well as doing more damage. Available when Patrick has 10 Goofy Goober Tokens. Basically his Belly Flop move in BFBB.
Throw Move: Patrick's long-ranged attack in which he can pick up, carry and throw crates, throw fruits, freezy fruits and stunned enemies (via his "Smash Attack") to press distant buttons, TV's (Shell City Dead Ahead), destroy enemies, and (for freezy fruits) freeze water, oil, and lava. When upgraded, he spins around, allowing him to hit even further targets and do more damage. Available when Patrick has 25 Goofy Goober Tokens. Patrick can still use the non upgraded move by tapping the button. He could do exactly the same thing in BFBB.
Swing: A move in which Patrick can swing from a floating block of ice with his tongue over large gaps (though it is unable to be used as an actual attack, it is still counted as one). This is what Sandy did in BFBB, who could swing from Texas Trailer Hitches with her lasso.
Mr. Krabs: A greedy but understandable crab who owns the Krusty Krab. He has a brief but major role, and is frozen by King Neptune for supposedly stealing his crown.
Plankton: Mr. Krabs’ nemesis, proprietor of the Chum Bucket, and the main antagonist of the game. He takes over Bikini Bottom using mind control helmets.
Squidward: A lazy, grumpy, octopus who is a cashier at the Krusty Krab. He was chosen over SpongeBob to be the manager of the Krusty Krab 2, and discovers Plankton's plan before anyone else does, but besides that, he has no real impact on the story.
Dennis: The game's secondary antagonist, Dennis is a hitman hired by Plankton to kill SpongeBob and Patrick before they get the crown, who grows a personal vendetta against them after they get him stepped on by the Cyclops. He tracks them for most of the game and is the main boss of two boss levels. He is the only person in the game who is not voiced by their original actor from the movie. Dennis is voiced by Alec Baldwin in the film, and Fred Tatasciore in the game.
King Neptune: The bald (or “thinning,” as he puts it) and somewhat cruel ruler of the sea, he is tricked by Plankton into thinking Mr. Krabs stole his crown, and is the final boss.
Mindy: King Neptune's kind teenage daughter who helps SpongeBob and Patrick on their adventure to recover her father’s crown.
The Cyclops: Unintentionally acting as a villain, the Cyclops who captures SpongeBob and Patrick is actually a human man wearing swimming gear who owns a seaside knick-knack shop. The only level he appears in is “Google Eyes and Smelly Knick Knacks,” where he occasionally tries to grab SpongeBob and Patrick.
David Hasselhoff: For no particular reason, the Hoff helps SpongeBob and Patrick get back to Bikini Bottom, and he is also the boss arena for “Dennis Strikes Back!”
Gary: SpongeBob's snarky pet snail who is only seen very briefly in the film, and even less in the game.
Sandy: A intelligent Texan squirrel who's friends with SpongeBob and Patrick. Sandy has two lines in the movie, and is only seen in the game in "Welcome to Planktopolis...Minions" running on a hamster wheel in the background.
Mrs. Puff: A pufferfish who's always losing her temper due to SpongeBob’s terrible driving skills, who has only one line in the movie.
Pearl: Mr. Krab's daughter. She has one line in the movie and is not seen in the game.
Larry Lobster: The muscular surfer who, like Pearl, only makes a small cameo in the movie and is not seen in the game.
Mermaid Man/Barnacle Boy: The old, heroic duo make a very small cameo as a poster in SpongeBob's house in the movie.
There are four types of levels: Platforming, Driving, Sliding and Bosses. Platforming levels feature "extra" sub-levels including "Floating Block Challenge", "SpongeBall Challenge", "Sonic Wave Guitar Challenge" and "Combat Arena Challenge". Driving and Sliding levels each have 3 other tasks; two time challenges and a ring challenge.
The following is a list of levels within the game:
No Cheese: The first level in the game. SpongeBob is rushing to the Krusty Krab to investigate the situation there.
I'm Ready... Depression: Both of them hungover on ice cream, Patrick strolls through Goofy Goober's Ice Cream Party Boat in an attempt to retrieve SpongeBob so they can leave.
Sandwich Driving 101: The beginning of SpongeBob and Patrick's journey to Shell City and the first Patty Wagon level, they drive the Patty Wagon out of Bikini Bottom.
Three... Thousand Miles to Shell City: In a vast desert, SpongeBob must destroy Plankton's hypnotizing Radio Towers in order to prevent more fish from becoming his minions.
Rub a Dub, Slip Slide in the Tub: The first Slide level in the game, SpongeBob and Patrick take out the last of Plankton's Radio Towers.
Bubble Blowing Baby Hunt: Patrick must traverse through the Thug Tug Bar and obtain the key while avoiding the dangerous thugs.
No Weenie Parking Anytime: Despite obtaining the key, the gates to the open road are locked, so SpongeBob and Patrick have to drive the Patty Wagon around the bar and obtain the five keys to unlock the gates.
I'll Let You Pet Mr. Whiskers: In the first boss level of the game, Patrick must defeat the frog fish.
Rock Slide: Having become men, SpongeBob and Patrick slide down the slopes of the monster trench and reach the bottom while avoiding the monsters.
Now That We're Men: SpongeBob is challenged with traveling through the monstrous trench and getting to the other side alive.
Shell City Dead Ahead: In a trashed area of the ocean, Patrick must destroy Plankton's hypnotizing TV's.
Name's Dennis: The second boss level of the game, Patrick must battle (and save SpongeBob) from Dennis.
Sundae Driving: In a surreal Goofy Goober dream world, SpongeBob and Patrick must follow Goofy Goober, who will lead the way out of Goober Land.
Google Eyes and Smelly Knick Knacks: Having reached Shell City, SpongeBob and Patrick finally obtain King Neptune's crown. They slide on the hoses and cables of the gift shop and find a way out while avoiding the Cyclops.
Dennis Strikes Back: SpongeBob must defeat a deformed Dennis in their final confrontation on David Hasselhoff's back.
Welcome to Planktopolis... Minions: Having returned to Bikini Bottom thanks to the Hoff, SpongeBob and Patrick find it has been converted into Planktopolis, and SpongeBob must use his Sonic Wave Guitar to destroy three giant Plankton statues to break his control over the bucketheads.
Drive of the Knucklehead McSpazatron: With a fully repaired Patty Wagon, SpongeBob and Patrick must drive through the dangerous streets of Planktopolis and return Neptune's crown before it's too late.
Turn the Tables on Plankton: In the final boss level of the game, SpongeBob must use King Neptune's own trident against him to free him from Plankton's control.
Combat Arena Challenge: A giant arena of enemies being spawned by giant Plankton heads on top of Jellyfish Fields plateau. This challenge appears in four levels: "I'm Ready Depression," "Bubble Blowing Baby Hunt," "Now That We're Men" and "Welcome To Planktopolis... Minions."
Floating Block Challenge: Patrick hops across a set of blocks, trying to reach the goal. The blocks may be spinning, rotating, dissolving, bouncy, icy or spiky. This challenge appears in three levels: "Three... Thousand Miles To Shell City","Now That We're Men" and "Shell City Dead Ahead".
SpongeBall Challenge: SpongeBob transforms into a ball to roll across a course. The obstacles can include moving blocks, windmills, tunnels, fragile boards, steam blowers and rotating panels. This challenge appears in four levels: "Three... Thousand Miles To Shell City", "Bubble Blowing Baby Hunt," "Shell City Dead Ahead" and "Welcome To Planktopolis... Minions".
Sonic Wave Guitar Challenge: SpongeBob must fly the Sonic Wave around the level through rings and secret tunnels, trying not to collide with anything. This challenge appears in three levels: "I'm Ready Depression," "Bubble Blowing Baby Hunt," and "Shell City, Dead Ahead."
Goofy Goober Tokens: These are the main items in the game which are needed to learn new techniques from Mindy in order to progress through the levels. You earn Goofy Goober Tokens by completing various tasks within the levels and some can only be accessed once SpongeBob and Patrick get certain moves. There are a total of 68 Goofy Goober Tokens in the game, and collecting them all will unlock a bonus cutscene after defeating King Neptune. Goofy Goober Tokens are extremely similar to BFBB's Golden Spatulas.
Manliness Points: Items that take the form of dumbbells and weights, and collecting them will fill up the Manliness Meter on the upper-right corner of the screen. Once the meter reaches a certain limit, you will be given the chance to upgrade one of SpongeBob and Patrick's health and techniques. Each Manliness Point has a different value depending on what type of dumbbell you collect. Red ones are worth 1 point, yellow ones are worth 2 points, green ones are worth 5 points, blue ones are worth 10 points, and pink ones are worth 50 points. You earn Manliness Points by finding them on the ground, breaking open crates, and defeating enemies. And if you destroy multiple crates and defeat multiple enemies in a single attack, you can earn bonus Manliness Points from smash combos. It should be noted however that the value of Manliness Points will drop overtime the longer you stay in the same level, eventually reaching a point where crates, enemies, and combos only give out one Manliness Point each. This is to prevent excessive grinding and prompt the player to proceed to the next level at a steady pace. Manliness Points are extremely similar to BFBB's Shiny Objects.
Treasure Chests: Items that are often hidden throughout the levels and collecting them will unlock special bonuses in the game. Ranging from artwork, soundbites, cutscenes, costumes, and special game mods. Most are found in hidden spots of the levels while some need to appear by completing a task or puzzle. There are a total of 42 Treasure Chests in the game. Treasure Chests are somewhat similar to Patrick's Socks in BFBB. It also has a few costumes.
Crates: Breakable items that give out Manliness Points. There are five types of crates in the game, and each has a unique perk on how to deal with them.
Plan Z Supply Crate: Wooden crates with Plankton's image on them that are often found in stack formations and are the most common type of crate out there. They are the easiest to break open. Similar to the Wooden Tiki in BFBB.
Balloon Box: A box floating in the air on a balloon that can only be destroyed with air-based techniques like SpongeBob's Bash and Patrick's Throw. They can also be used as platforms to cross gaps. Similar to the Floating Tiki in BFBB.
Plan Z Computer: Computers that can detect SpongeBob and Patrick's presence and disappear when they come to close, only reappearing when they back out a certain distance. They can only be destroyed be an explosion from a Thunder Barrel or long-range techniques like SpongeBob's Sponge-Bowl or Patrick's Throw. Similar to the Shhh Tiki in BFBB.
Thunder Barrel: Red barrels that are explosive and once touched, will detonate after a few seconds. The blast wave from the barrels will hurt you if you're too close to them and they will destroy any nearby crates and enemies in their vicinity. They can also set off other Thunder Barrels in a chain reaction. Similar to the Thunder Tiki in BFBB.
Steel Safe: Very hard safes that are invulnerable to normal means of attack and can only be destroyed by an explosion from a Thunder Barrel or upgraded technique. Their durability also means that they can be used to get to higher inclines by stacking them, and they can sometimes be even more useful for carrying over obstacles than a Throw Fruit. Similar to the Stone Tiki in BFBB.
As you play the game you will encounter different enemies which have different ways of being defeated.
Jellyfish: Jellyfish roam many areas in the sea and can be very aggressive if provoked. They attack you by stinging you and are very slow, which gives you the strategy to quickly attack them before they zap you. Jellyfish were also seen in BFBB (except the PC version). They could hurt you too, but they weren't too common and you didn't get any shiny objects for defeating them. Also, there were pink jellyfish and purple jellyfish in BFBB, while only the pink ones are in this game.
Critter: It is the same as the Jellyfish, except with a bucket helmet.
Fogger: The Fogger is a chubby enemy that has incredibly bad breath, of which is their attack. They breathe a cloud of stink that can make you faint and must fade away before it is safe. Foggers are similar to Chomp-Bots in BFBB.
Slammer: The Slammer is slim and armed with a hammer like tool and can perform an overhead slam attack, which can knock you out and give you a headache upon impact, they also create a small shock wave. Slammers are similar to Ham-mers in BFBB.
Flinger: The flinger is an enemy that floats above the ground in a safety float and is immune to spin attacks, and attacks by spitting a glob of goo that, once hit, not only hurts you and makes the ground slippery, if you are to ever dodge, it will leave a puddle that lasts for an amount of time. Of all the Bucketheads, Flinger seems to be the most stupid, due to how it behaves and attacks. Their goo can also be deflected with an upgraded spin attack. Flingers are similar to Chucks in BFBB.
Spinner: An enemy with a guard worm that spins around to attack you. Spinners are similar to G-Loves in BFBB.
Turret: An enemy that hides in a barrel. If you get close to it, it will pop out and shoot rockets at you. Turrets are somewhat similar to Tar-tars in BFBB.
Popper: An enemy which fires 3 blobs or 7 at a time. If you get too close or if it is hit by projectiles, but not killed, it will burrow to a different area creating blue fogs. This enemy has a weak point. Similar to Arf in BFBB.
Mini-Merv: An enemy that floats above you and, if you get too close, fires a laser. Mini-Mervs are similar to Bzzt-bots and Monsoons from BFBB.
Merv: Similar to Mini-merv, yet also shoots out rockets at you and has more health. The laser beam on the buttom of their machine is bigger, allowing them to deflect Spongebowls, but not the explosion of an upgraded Spongebowl. Oddly enough, it appears before Mini-Merv ("Now That We're Men" Combat Arena Challenge). Similar to Slick and Sleepy Time from BFBB.
Enemy Spawner: A machine that pops out an enemy ball that turns into enemies. Enemy Spawners are similar to Duplicatron 1000s in BFBB.
Frog Fish ("I'll Let You Pet Mr. Whiskers"): The first boss of the game before you head to the Trenches. After SpongeBob gets caught by the frogfish, Patrick goes out to rescue him. The frogfish will charge at Patrick, so he must dodge it and use his cartwheel to knock him off the edge. After doing it several times, it sends out its tongue which will at first slam and then do a spin attack at the player. During the process, the frogfish also spits acid bombs at you.
Dennis ("Name's Dennis"): The assassin hired by Plankton to stop SpongeBob and Patrick. Throughout the fight, Dennis will use SpongeBob as a hockey stick and whack old toilets (which will release a toxic gas ring if it hits the ground) at Patrick. The player must either deflect the toilets with his upgraded star spin or throw melons at him. As Dennis' health decreases, he will summon Spinners into the arena. Once he is defeated, he gets stepped on by the Cyclops.
Deformed Dennis ("Dennis Strikes Back!"): After SpongeBob and Patrick get King Neptune's crown and a lift from David Hasselhoff, the Cyclops’ boot returns...along with Dennis! This time, he will throw several daggers at SpongeBob. Directly approaching him doesn’t work, as he’ll just leap to a different spot. The strategy to beating him is to use the bowling attack or deflecting his daggers using an upgraded spin attack. As Dennis' health decrease, he calls in Slammers into the arena. Once he is defeated, Dennis gets hit by an oncoming boat. This is the only boss level not to take place underwater.
Buckethead King Neptune ("Turn the Tables on Plankton"): Being the king of the sea, King Neptune cannot be harmed by any of your attacks, and he will hit you (but not damage you) if you get too close, or block the Sonic Wave attack with his trident. For the first round, Neptune will shoot fire at you. During the part when he reloads his trident, hit all the tables with your karate spin. If you dodge his attacks twice without getting hit, quickly run behind the frozen Mr. Krabs. King Neptune will then shoot a laser that will reflect on all the tables and Mr. Krabs, stunning him. Once he’s stunned, hit him with the Sonic Wave. After Neptune loses a third of his health, he will fire an electric wave at the floor. Repeat the same strategy as the first round. After Neptune loses another third of his health, he will break the floor into several small platforms and call two Flingers for backup. Repeat the same strategy while dealing with the Flingers. Once he is defeated, the bucket breaks and you win the game. This is the only boss level to take place in Bikini Bottom.
PlayStation 3 Version
On February 7, 2012, the console version came out on the PlayStation Store as a PS2 Classic, meaning it's essentially the PS2 version upscaled to HD, but it’s a flawed port, mostly due to several technical issues:
All still images (in things such as cutscenes and the pause menu) are noticeably blurry.
While the game was upscaled to HD, the horizontal field of view hasn't been changed, so the picture is always stretched when it starts, and one will have to manually change it every time they play the game.
All cutscenes using in-game graphics have severe audio de-syncing issues, where it will start perfectly synced, but then a section of an audio clip will play twice, meaning every clip after it plays about a full second after when it should.
There is a noticeable delay between pushing a button and the character doing an action. This is because the game is recognizing the controller (a DualShock 3 or a Sixaxis) as a DualShock 2 and must translate the code, causing lag.
The GBA version of the game is a 2D platformer similar to the likes of Super Mario. There are six worlds, each world containing 4 levels and a boss fight. The player navigates the levels as SpongeBob and Patrick, and must traverse through each stage before time runs out.
World 1: Bikini Bottom
1-1: Management Materials
1-2: Hey Chum! (A Parody Series Animated Hey Arnold!)
1-3: Not a Kid
1-4: Shell City Ahoy!
1-Boss: Thug Fish
World 2: Coral Canyon
2-1: Where's the Reef?
2-2: 100 Leagues Down
2-3: Stop for a Bite
2-4: Man Babies
2-Boss: Thug Tug Thug
World 3: Desert
3-1: The Long Road
3-2: On the Walk Again
3-3: Sea Cave
3-4: Yoodle-a-Sea-Doo! (A Parody Saying Yabba-Dabba-Doo! Series Animated Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones)
Unlike the other versions of the game, the PC version has different gameplay, and less levels. It has the same gameplay as the "Employee of the Month game," which is a point-and-click adventure. The game consists of 8 chapters. Also Plankton and Mindy are playable. Plankton is playable when you find Plan Z, and Mindy is playable in her castle with King Neptune.
While the PC and GBA versions were barely reviewed at all, the PS2/GC/Xbox versions have received positive to mixed reviews, all 3 receiving about 70% on GameRankings, and ranging from 73-75 on Metacritic. IGN gave the game a 7.8 saying "Instead of settling on oversimplified gameplay, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie delivers an entertaining (and oftentimes challenging) mix of platform and driving sequences. Controls feel responsive and the camera rarely hinders your view of the action." Most reviewers also complimented the fact that it was a licensed game that didn't simply exploit the license in order to sell well, which it could've been very easily done considering SpongeBob's popularity.
Despite it's relative obscurity, the console versions of The SpongeBob Movie Game and Battle for Bikini Bottom have developed a fairly sized cult following, where many say they're underrated and deserve much more attention. Many also have pleasant, nostalgic memories from playing the two games as children.
There is a glitch in the GameCube version where if you hold the X button before starting a Spongeball challenge, the sound of SpongeBob charging a Spongebowl is heard but it never ends unless you die or finish the challenge.
In some of his combo moves, SpongeBob can be heard saying "SuperSponge: saving the day!" This is a reference to the Playstation 1 game SuperSponge.
Mindy can be heard saying bad word #11 (a reference to "Sailor Mouth").
For some unknown reason, David Hasselhoff is never referred to by name throughout the entire game.
This possibly might be because of royalty fees or Nickelodeon didn't have the rights to use his name in video games.
In the PC version, the familiar looking guy (the same one from SpongeBob SquarePants: Employee of the Month) can be seen.
During the fifth chapter of the PC version, trying to make SpongeBob traverse the trench too soon causes him to say, "It's too foggy to see! I could get eaten by a Grue." This is a reference to Zork I: The Great Underground Empire, a popular PC text adventure, where if you wandered into a dark location without any light source, you would be unable to see. Shortly thereafter, text would pop up saying "You were eaten by a Grue."
The PC edition is the only version of this game told in chapters.
In the PC version, in Squidward's house there is a chalkboard displaying his new phone number and a picture of Flatts the Flounder beating up SpongeBob.
Although the game is based on the movie, the Hotel Deep Six (Chapter 5) and Dr. Louie's Office (Chapter 6) from the PC version never appear in the actual movie.
An old license plate reads "HVY IRN," an acronym of "Heavy Iron," the game's developer. Also, a golf iron has "Heavy Iron" written on it.
In the level "Three... Thousand Miles to Shell City," the character that is not playing can be seen balancing on a rock, then falling off in the background.
In "Welcome to Planktopolis...Minions," when you get through the "Monument-al Destruction" task and you are facing the lava pit, drop down to the right lower ledge and keep going right. When you pass the corner, it will say "Heavy Iron's best times" with a leaderboard showing all the fastest racing times of the members of Heavy Iron Studios.
In "Welcome to Planktopolis... Minions," there is a part where you can see Patrick swinging and hanging on the ceiling with a bucket on his head, but the bucket isn't activated.
In the level Sundae Driving inside the Gobber World building you can see a piece concept art from Battle for Bikini Bottom.
In the level Drive of the Knucklehead-McSpazitron, when the road is blocked, Patrick will occasionally say: "Maybe we shouldn't have stopped to use our gift receipt for Deam's Little Shop of Dried Fish Flakes and Flowers." This references BFBB as SpongeBob received a gift receipt for the same store when he defeated Robo-Sandy.