| SpongeBob SquarePants
Employee of the Month
Review by Jen
Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea?
I was browsing through my local EB the other day and saw SpongeBob
SquarePants Employee of the Month. I picked it up, expecting
it to be just another package of minigames with no übergame
like so many TV cartoon-to-game adaptations seem to be. But as
I perused the back of the box, I saw no mention of "zany
levels" or "wacky races" but rather words like
"gather clues" and "map SpongeBob's quest."
"Hmm," I thought to myself, with fond memories of the
Rugrats Adventure Game dancing around in my head, and I
took a chance and plunked down the $30 to buy it.
So ... yes, indeedy, boys and girls, it is in fact an adventure
game ... but it's kid stuff. Now it just so happens that I love
the cartoon SpongeBob, which appears on the cable channel Nickelodeon.
I watch it alongside my kids on a regular basis, often enough
that I'd think it safe to say I've seen every episode at least
once. The game is pretty true to the TV show in terms of humor
and presentation, even down to employing the same TV voice actors
for the game's main characters.
Absorbent and Yellow and Porous Is He
However, the game's animation is markedly different than the
show's. I don't know the right terminology, but the show is just
your standard, run-of-the-mill medium-grade 2D cartoon animation,
two or three steps below the efforts of Disney or Don Bluth but
about 20 steps above, for instance, a Pokemon episode.
The game retains the exact same style of scenery, probably even
drawn by the same artist(s), but the characters and some other
objects are 3D superimposed on these 2D backgrounds. Which is
fine. But weird. In the cutscenes, however, the characters appear
to have been rather hastily drawn by someone new to computer animation.
The lines are choppy and sloppy, and these scenes are far below
the quality of the TV SpongeBob cartoons, visually speaking.
No matter, though, Employee of the Month is still a lot
better than I had expected. Gameplay is standard point-and-click,
third-person inventory puzzles. The game plays out over the course
of four chapters, and each chapter takes place in its own little
worldthere is no traversing back and forth between them.
Each chapter has four or five locations that are unlocked on a
map as you uncover the necessary information.
If Nautical Nonsense Be Something You Wish
Basically, you talk to a character to find out what he/she wants
in exchange for the item you want, then you go to another location
and get that item, then you carry the new item to a different
character, until you have satisfied everyone and move on to the
next chapter. Instead of 20 or 30 steps a la Monkey Island,
though, at most you will be faced with two or three steps
for any given puzzle.
Employee of the Month is not at all a difficult game,
which is to be expected given that it is aimed at kids. But I
don't think it would even be overly challenging for your average
eight-year-old. The only other Nickelodeon cartoon-based game
I've played is the Rugrats Adventure Game, and although
it was no Schizm
that one gave this adult adventurer a run for her money in
terms of brain-busting puzzles. I wish this SpongeBob game had
been of that caliber; the Rugrats game was such that playing it
could be enjoyed by both kids and their parents. Not so with Employee
of the MonthI didn't even get a little bit stuck, not
This is not to say I didn't enjoy itI didbut I think
only because I am a fan of the show. If you don't like SpongeBob,
you will not like this game. And if you've never heard of SpongeBob,
you probably won't appreciate this game's charming weirdness that
requires some degree of familiarity with the show's overarching
premise, the life of a fry cook in a small-town undersea world
that eerily mirrors its overland counterparts.
Then Drop on the Deck and Flop Like a Fish
Most of the show's recurring characters put in an appearance
in the game: Plankton, Patrick, Sandy Cheeks, Mr. Krabs, and of
course Squidward, among others. Plus there are several new characters
that were fun to see. And thank God there was no Patchy the Pirate
outside of the opening sequence! I just loathe Patchy the Pirate!
Anyway, I do recommend Employee of the Month to parents
who are hoping to mold their children into future adventure gamers
and, of course, to the SpongeBob aficionado of any age, but I
don't think it's quite worth the $30 that I paidit only
lasts about four hours maximum and it has zero replayability.
Wait for it to hit the ol' bargain bin and then have at it!
Developer: Awe Games
Release Date: September 2002
Four Fat Chicks Links
Windows 98/ME/XP (I played under Win2K with no problems)
200 MHz (400 MHz recommended)
32 MB RAM (64 MB recommended)
4 MB video card (8 MB 3D accelerator recommended)
8X CD-ROM drive
16-bit Soundblaster-compatible sound card
500 MB free hard disk space
Where to Find It
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