Just about everyone loves good ol' Spongebob Squarepants. While I haven't seen more than a few fleeting moments of his adventures, part of me hopes that he's still a Nickelodeon staple when my six-month old starts paying attention to his cartoon antics. That way I'll have a legitimate excuse to get more familiar with the cast of characters inhabiting Bikini Bottom without getting some sideways glances from my better half.
Parents certainly have no lack of choices when it comes to video games featuring our deep-sea-dwelling friend. The latest in a long list of Spongebob-based offerings is Nicktoons Attack of the Toybots. Even though it may not feature his name in the title, the yellow fellow is featured prominently on the cover as well as in the gameplay. In reality though, Toybots is a team affair, showcasing all sorts of characters from Nickelodeon's stable of animated heroes, including Tak, the Fairly Oddparents, Jimmy Neutron, and plenty of others. Being able to play as any and all of these beloved folks in one game is sure to appeal to little tykes across the land.
Toybots is a pure platformer, featuring scores of double-jumps, enemies to punch, and leaps to time.
As Toybots opens, Spongebob and his buddy Patrick are bringing an order of a few million burgers to a toy factory. Naturally, things go sour very quickly, as Patrick is taken hostage at the factory gates and Spongebob is left to rescue him. Over the course of the action, it's revealed that the evil Dr. Calamitous (certainly familiar to Nicktoons fans) is busy creating endless armies of toy robots, clones of the aforementioned heroes of the Nick universe. This nefarious plan to take over the world must naturally be foiled by Spongebob and his pals.
Taking place over five expansive levels, Toybots will challenge young gamers on several fronts. The different areas of the game are quite large, featuring plenty of save points but taking a significant amount of time to traverse front to back. There are plenty of moments that'll take more than a few tries to conquer, from figuring out particularly tough ways around obstacles to eliminating (or simply bypassing) enemies. Luckily, Toybots is more than generous at doling out the lives, so you can get splattered, dropped, or tossed aside and quickly reappear without suffering too much damage.
All along the way, you'll have the option to play as every main Nicktoons character you come across. To be sure, this looks better on paper than it plays on screen, as there is little difference in actual gameplay whether you're piloting Spongebob, Tak, Timmy Turner, or any of the others you can utilize. Enemies, on the other hand, are varied in both appearance and tact, as a full roster of a dozen or so different creatures will attack you from any and all directions.
So will the kids like the game? Chances are that they will, at least in small bursts. Toybots is a pure platformer, featuring scores of double-jumps, enemies to punch, and leaps to time. However, it also tosses in some mech-suit combat with upgradeable weaponry, adding some additional gameplay options to the mix. Generally speaking, all of the combat is very cartoony, but parents should be aware that there is an endless amount of punching and kicking scores of enemies as well as loads of gunplay. Sure, the guns happen to shoot gobs of green goo, but it's still an integral part of the action. The rating may be "E" for Everyone, but moms and dads looking to steer their little ones from aggressive games should take note that Toybots is all about constant, pervasive destruction. Good natured, for sure, but still there.
Ultimately, Toybots is the perfect rental for a weekend or two. At $20, it's even a good deal for a purchase, especially if you've got a couple of little ones around the house who know and love the roster of characters in the game. It's worth noting that there's also a co-op mode that lets two players navigate the levels at the same time, which adds some gametime to an admittedly short-ish title (the levels are nice and long, but there are only five of them). Provided you're comfortable with the kids punching, kicking, and goop-shooting teddy bears, bunnies, robots, and bulldozers, Nicktoons Attack of the Toybots is a solid choice. The kids will get a kick out of all their heroes being in one place, while Mom and Dad can enjoy a few hours of alone time. It's win-win!