A repulsive hunk of purple goo with a suitably hideous name - Mawgu - is threatening the entire Nickelodeon universe as we know it. Atop his volcanic perch, he vows to lay waste to our beloved cartoon community for no apparent reason. Without any animated SWAT team to speak of, all hope rests instead upon three much-loved, but atypical heroes: SpongeBob Squarepants, Danny Phantom and Timmy Turner.
To thwart the gooey menace, the threesome must work together through five levels of tropical jungles, sunny beaches and bug-infested riverbanks, culminating in a final showdown within the magma-encrusted lair of Mr Mawgu himself. Each level is split into three sections: field, action and boss. Field areas are a typical platforming affair. The goal here is to obtain three king-sized crystals by sprinkling some salt onto dog-faced plants or by baiting some monkey and seal orchard-hybrids with bananas and fresh fish respectively. Occasionally they may spit out a mini-tornado your way so as to keep the ridiculousness of it all in check. Between the touch-activated flower-play, you’ll have to guide our three unlikely protagonists across many a pitfall and a variety of tricky jumps which take place on both screens in much the same way as Nintendo’s classic - Yoshi’s Island DS.
Each character has their individual strengths and weaknesses. SpongeBob isn’t much of a soldier with his primary offence being that of blowing bubbles, but his lightweight composition allows him to expand at will and float in order to better negotiate the devious obstacles. Danny Phantom - on the other hand - is the butt-kicker of the group. Punch, kick, aerial roundhouse - it’s all in a day’s work for this metaphysical adolescent. Lastly, there’s Timmy Turner (from the not-as-obvious Fairly OddParents animation) who wields a vacuum-cleaner for continuous suck-damage. His capacity to dish out damage, er – sucks, but he has a handy double jump ability to make some of the more difficult platforming runs a cakewalk. With their powers combined, the trio can handle anything that Mawgu and his gooey henchmen throws at them.
And they will pull no punches when it comes to the battle sections. Here, the aim is simple: get to the end in one piece; beat up everything that stands in your way. Unfortunately, it’s all as deep as puddle with respect to combat. Lots of B-button mashing with kung-fu exponent, Danny Phantom, will see you through any match-up without any strategy required. On the bright side, the boss section follows on right after. There are only five such encounters, but the monstrosities tend to be about ten times larger than our boys and it’s fun to figure out their clever patterns and take the appropriate course of action to bring them down to their heavy knees. It’s fun, but it’s short-lived fun.
The course of Battle for Volcano Island won’t take more than 2-3 hours to finish. There is a fruit-catching minigame that’s placed in between each level, but as with the main game, there’s not a lot to it: catch the apples and bananas, avoid the spiky durian and watch out for crabs and snakes. There are also times when the laggy controls may lead to accidental missed jumps, but with unlimited lives and restarts, this game is at just the right difficulty for its target audience – that is, fans of the shows.
While not in the same grade as platforming legends such as Mario and Sonic, SpongeBob and Friends provides an excellent piece of platforming cake that has many embellishing cherries on the top if you’re a fan of the featured franchises. Sure, it’s as typical as platforming games come, and perhaps if we had a plumber, a hedgehog and a vampire-killer instead of a sponge, a teen-phantom and a vacuum-cleaning obsessed child plastered across the box, more people would take notice. But as licensed games come, this is definitely one of the better efforts around.