If you were a young kid back in 2003, you probably knew of SpongeBob SquarePants Plug ‘n Play. I remember the night I first saw the yellow controller with a familiar face. It was amusing to treat SpongeBob’s nose like a joystick, and it was more amusing to use it on our TV.
When I got it, I was around 10 or 11 years old, and back then, I only had an annoying little brother. He is still irritating, but he is not so little anymore. We watched with anticipation as our father tried to figure out how to get the thing to start, and once the TV flared, our lives changed forever.
You might think what I am saying is an exaggeration, but it did impact my young mind. The game did not hold up well in retrospect, though it started my quest to find more SpongeBob games. I stumbled across treasures that provided me with endless hours of entertainment.
This article will detail the best SpongeBob games I have tried across all consoles, from the Gameboy Color to the PC, and across all generations.
In choosing the best SpongeBob games, I am looking for the following:
- All games must be easily findable on accessible platforms.
- All games must have SpongeBob-related themes or stories.
- Most games have a Metacritic, IMDb, or Google Review score of 70% and above. I say most games because some of them might not necessarily have that high of a score, but I personally want others to experience their charm.
- Some games have a “preferred” platform. Sometimes, games on different platforms with vastly different mechanics share a single title. To help differentiate which is what I think is the better game among them, look for the “preferred” tag. If there is none, then they are all good.
- Mobile-only, Plug-and-play, and arcade games are not included in this list.
- Crossover games are not included in this list.
Remember that “best” is subjective, so you might not have the same principles or opinions as me, which I do not have a problem with. Aside from my thoughts, this list also considers the general public’s perspective.
The Best SpongeBob SquarePants Games You Can Play Right Now
#1 – Employee of the Month (2002)
- Platforms: PC
- Rating: 7.8 (IMDb), 6.2 (Metacritic)
As a fan of point-and-click adventure games growing up, this one won my heart. I grew up loving flash games like Anika’s Odyssey, The Visitor, and Scooby Doo. Most SpongeBob games on PC have the same play style but introduce different stories and themes, and Employee of the Month is the pioneer.
The story revolves around SpongeBob trying to get to a theme park called Neptune’s Paradise after Mr. Krabs gives him free tickets for being the employee of the month (which I found bizarre, considering Mr. Krabs is a greedy crustacean).
The game has a lot of endearing charm because of its interactivity. You can click on the various objects on the screen, and some have a fun sound or visual effect. For example, touching the ketchup and yellow and white mayonnaise bottles will make a splat on the screen of their respective colors.
The story is super straightforward, so there is not much room for replay value. However, the twist in the end makes it a sweet and wholesome conclusion, which I think embodies SpongeBob well.
#2 – The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)
- Platforms: GameCube, PC, Mac, PS2, Xbox (Preferred); GBA
- Rating: 74 (Metacritic), 4.8/5 (Google Reviews)
I was a big fan of the SpongeBob Movie in 2004, and this game solidified my love for it even more. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is another point-and-click adventure made by the same developers as Employee of the Month. However, I find the 2004 game more polished.
The plot follows the movie loosely; King Neptune’s crown still gets stolen by Plankton, and Mr. Krabs still gets frozen. It is up to us to retrieve the crown to unfreeze him by controlling SpongeBob and Patrick and progressing through different locations.
On PC, it is a point-and-click style, but on GameCube, PS2, and Xbox, it is a 3D platformer game like Banjo-Kazooie. They share the same premise but with different mechanics. Still, both styles are enjoyable.
Many elements from the movie are present in this game, like the Patty Wagon that I have always envisioned taking a bite out of (I know, I was a weird kid).
#3 – Lights, Camera, Pants! (2005)
- Platforms: PC (Preferred); GBA, GameCube, PS2, Xbox
- Rating: 7.8 (Metacritic)
This game on PC is a point-and-click adventure game. Compared to the linear direction of the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie game, you can go through four distinct regions of the map, and each region has around four to five unique locations.
As always, it relies heavily on the mouse, and you can talk to various characters. One detail that I love is the appearances of many familiar characters like Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, the Robot SpongeBob from the “Welcome to the Chum Bucket” episode, the prehistoric Patrick, and many more.
The game’s story is about SpongeBob helping out a director to cast characters for his show. To do so, you must help them in various quests. An issue I have with the game, though, is the minigames. They tend to be incredibly buggy, but it does not largely take away from my overall perception of the game.
#4 – SpongeBob Diner Dash 2: Two Times the Trouble (2007)
- Platforms: PC
- Rating: N/A
The nostalgia hits me hard with this game because I have invested so much time into it. This game is a reskin of Diner Dash 2: Restaurant Rescue and doesn’t have many glowing reviews, but I feel it deserves a spot because it fits SpongeBob thematically.
You have probably played games like Diner Dash back then if you were a kid or a teen because they were devilishly popular, but if you are not familiar with it, you play as a waiter who seats customers, get their order, serve them food, and clean the tables.
My gripe with the first game is that SpongeBob is the waiter instead of the cook, which Squidward takes the role of. Here, it fixes the issue by having swappable playable characters. The game can feel repetitive, but thankfully, new challenges and customers introduce a breath of fresh air.
The game’s story is about SpongeBob working at different restaurants to save them from a greedy loan shark (literally, which makes it ten times better than the original).
#5 – Battle for Bikini Bottom: Rehydrated (2020)
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (Preferred); Stadia, iOS, Android
- Rating: 68 (Metacritic)
The original game from 2003 is the cream of the crop of SpongeBob games, so much so that the franchise remade it in 2020, giving us Battle for Bikini Bottom: Rehydrated.
Battle for Bikini Bottom is a collect-a-thon 3D platformer similar to Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Spyro the Dragon. You traverse the map collecting various objects like the golden spatula, and you fight various villains that you will probably recognize if you are a fan of SpongeBob (like me).
Because it is a remake, the story is the same as Battle for Bikini Bottom; Plankton makes a disobedient robot army that causes a ruckus throughout Bikini Bottom. The modern look is gorgeous and enticing to a new audience, yet familiar and heartwarming to the not-so-new fans.
If you are a veteran, though, you might need some time to adjust to the game’s physics engine, as the difference is very noticeable.
#6 – Revenge of the Flying Dutchman (2002)
- Platforms: GBA (Preferred); GameCube, PS2
- Rating: 66 (Metacritic)
The GBA version is a 2D side-scroller game, which is the majority of SpongeBob games on the handheld. However, this one left an impression on me. It has better sprites compared to SuperSponge in 2001, and it has better mechanics compared to its predecessors like Battle for Bikini Bottom on GBA in 2003.
You traverse through different maps equipped with abilities to help you in fun ways; for example, SpongeBob can glide through the air by inflating himself.
Also, this game caught my attention because, while I was replaying it for nostalgia, I realized that Super Mario Wonder, the game that comes out on the Nintendo Switch in October, copies SpongeBob’s bubble ability!
The story is also fun because the Flying Dutchman is one of my favorite characters introduced in the series. Its different endings are callbacks to the Legend of the Lost Spatula game for the Gameboy Color in 2001, which I find pretty neat.
#7 – SpongeBob’s Atlantis SquarePantis (2007)
- Platforms: GBA, Nintendo DS (Preferred); Wii, PS2
- Rating: 68 (Metacritic)
This game is based on the Season 5 episode with the same title, which I have watched multiple times as a child. Is the game as fun and endearing as the show? Well, yes, but also, no; let me explain.
The Wii and PlayStation 2 versions were not for me, but the Gameboy and Nintendo DS versions were the bomb.
They both featured a partner mechanic, i.e., you choose a character and a partner to go along with them. On GBA, it was a blast trying them out because they had different special abilities. For example, Sandy and Mr. Krabs can hover, while SpongeBob and Patrick can ground pound.
On the Nintendo DS, the partner mechanic behaves differently. The special abilities depend on the character instead of the combination, and it can be a better experience especially if you find yourself constantly swapping combinations in GBA.
#8 – Drawn to Life: SpongeBob Edition (2008)
- Platforms: Nintendo DS
- Rating: 68 (Metacritic)
This game is a spin-off of the beloved franchise Drawn to Life, and like Dinner Dash, it ties very well with SpongeBob’s themes, particularly the “Frankendoodle” episode. I watched that episode when I was a kid and seeing it being used as an inspiration for this game warms my heart.
Drawn to Life: SpongeBob Edition calls out to the artistic minds of its players. The game’s gimmick is that you can draw characters and objects into the world using your stylus. I was addicted to Scribblenauts Unlimited when I was a teenager.
Thus, seeing a game require my creative input got my gears turning. I remember trying to draw myself for the main character but failing miserably due to the limited capabilities of the stylus.
Its overall gameplay is a 2D platformer side-scrolling game. I loved how I could interact with the world like erasing obstacles and drawing checkpoints. However, the platformer aspect of the game did not feel too special. Still, it is a great game for the creatively inclined players out there.
#9 – SpongeBob’s Truth or Square (2009)
- Platforms: PSP, Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox 360
- Rating: 68 (Metacritic)
My first experience with Truth or Square was on my friend’s PlayStation 2; we sometimes would go to their house after class and play in turns. Then, I recently discovered that it had PSP and Nintendo DS releases, and it was tremendously fun.
The PSP version plays the same as the consoles but with extra content. According to my research after playing it out, the console releases (including Wii and Xbox) were a bit rushed compared to the PSP release.
The game is a 3D platformer with a similar feel to Psychonauts, and if you think it is a weird comparison, it also has a similar theme in the plot. The game features SpongeBob being entrusted with the secret formula, but forgetting where he hid it. Plankton straps him on a machine to dig through his memories.
My issue with it is how quick the game is, and I am not Summoning Salt levels of speed-runner. It probably suffered due to its rushed state, but the game is still a great one.
#10 – SpongeBob SquigglePants (2011)
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, Wii
- Rating: 7.1 (IMDb)
This game is a nice change of pace from the constant point-and-click adventures and 3D platformers. If you have played and enjoyed WarioWare games before on the Nintendo DS and 3DS, then you will probably like SpongeBob SquigglePants.
It is a game that relies on fast-paced minigames (i.e., nano-games) that you must succeed in succession. They have different art styles and themes that synergize well. Unlike the other games on my list, this one is an outlier because of the vastly different game style.
Also, it heavily utilizes the touchpad on the Nintendo 3DS, which is an experience that you cannot replicate on the PC or home consoles.
As for the nano-games themselves, I found myself having a blast because of the sheer amount of them there are. I looked it up and let out an audible shock of disbelief when I learned that it has 110 nano-games.
If you are not a fan of WarioWare games, though, you can skip this one. If you have not tried them before, I can recommend you to start with this game because it is not much different from that evil Mario counterpart’s games.
#11 – SuperSponge (2001)
- Platforms: PlayStation, GBA
- Rating: 7.1 (IMDb)
SuperSponge is the second SpongeBob game created in history, preceded by the Legend of the Lost Spatula for the Gameboy Color. I do not have a nostalgic connection with SuperSponge because I did not have a PlayStation when I was a kid (*Mr. Krab’s sad violin plays in the background*).
However, I did recently play it to see what I was missing out. I owned a GBA back in the day, so I had a go at the GBA version of this release, and it was vastly different, which is pretty understandable. The PS version is fully voiced and the sprites are better.
However, both of them follow the same story and structure. It is a 2D side-scrolling platform game, and it follows SpongeBob trying to get an autograph from Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. It is very reminiscent of Sonic in terms of collectibles; you can collect spatulas and lose some when you get hit.
One infuriating experience I had with this game was at the level of Sandy’s Dome. Why did they introduce a time limit for a vertically-inclined game?! If I was a kid playing it, I would lose my mind like how I lost my mind in the Lion King for SNES.
#12 – SpongeBob’s Boating Bash (2010)
- Platforms: Wii, Nintendo DS
- Rating: 8.2 (Metacritic)
Right off the bat, I’ll warn you that the Wii and Nintendo DS versions play differently from each other. I found the former to be the better experience because the latter only frustrated me with its wacky controls.
As the title suggests, SpongeBob’s Boating Bash is a Demolition Derby kind of game where you drive around in a car and destroy the other players’ cars to win. Of course, you have to defend yourself from their attacks as well.
You can also play a racing mode in the game, but I enjoyed the battling mode to be far superior. As a kid, I spent a lot of time on Twisted Metal, and Boating Bash reminded me of my childhood years. Even when I take away my nostalgia goggles, I still love this play style.
Also, I find it brilliant how it ties into SpongeBob’s inability to drive in the show. By utilizing SpongeBob’s trait and history of reckless driving, making a game out of it is simply genius.
#13 – The Cosmic Shake (2023)
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Rating: 70 (Metacritic)
The Cosmic Shake is incredibly refreshing. The gameplay is nothing special to me since it is a 3D platformer, but the other aspects of it are amazing. Firstly, I love the art style and graphics; everything looks shiny and vibrant. They are cartoony but unique to the game.
I am at a loss for words about the map designs. As a fan of SpongeBob, I can tell that they are homages to show. The starting map is Glove World, which first appeared in the Rock Bottom episode, one of the most horrifying episodes as a kid.
The weakest part of the game is the storytelling. I don’t even feel like putting a spoiler tag because the story spoils it for you. All-in-all, it is an incredible experience. The controls are smooth, the enemies are challenging yet fun to verse, and the art style is something I vibe with.
#14 –Creature from the Krusty Krab (2006)
- Platforms: GameCube, PlayStation 2, Wii (Preferred); Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS
- Rating: 6.7 (Metacritic)
Like most games in my list, Creature from the Krusty Krab has different gameplay mechanics across platforms, but they ultimately follow a general plot. In this entry, you get to explore the dreams of SpongeBob, Patrick, and Plankton.
What makes this game special in my heart is how it switches playstyles often. If you are not a fan of one, you can always anticipate for another to entertain you.
There are four main ones: platforming, driving (my favorite), flying, and shooter levels. While the handheld versions are good on their platforms, the console version feels more polished and extra.
The story also has a good twist in the end involving Gary, but I want you to find it out yourself so you can have an excuse to dust off your retro consoles and have a fun experience.
#15 – Operation Krabby Patty (2001)
- Platforms: PC
- Rating: 6.7 (IMDb)
Operation Krabby Patty is not a perfect game, especially this year. If you grew up playing it, you might love it, but it does not always get the same affection from newer audiences due to the art style and game mechanics. Nonetheless, I love and appreciate the witty writing.
Believe it or not, there are two stories you can play. One story revolves around SpongeBob stopping sea ants from stealing the secret recipe and delivering it to Plankton. The other one is about Plankton making SpongeBob fetch some errands as a distraction to steal the secret recipe, but he ultimately fails.
Either way, the gameplay has varying playstyles like in Creature from the Krusty Krab. What’s neat about this one is how the mini-games differ in character depending on the story you decide to do. You might be catching jellyfish as either Sandy or SpongeBob!
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: If you separately count video games of different game mechanics with the same title, it can go up to 60 or 70 games in total. I can’t say for certain the exact amount because many of them have become lost media, particularly the Plug ‘N Play games.
Answer: For modern games like Cosmic Shake and Battle for Bikini Bottom: Rehydrated, you can buy them easily in shops and digital stores. For the old ones, you can try to find used copies online. Some of them can also be played online through emulation as a means of preservation, which is what I did.
Answer: You can try to dig up old archives, especially for the incredibly forgotten entries. Some games that were available on Nickelodeon’s website are now long gone, but some sites like archive.org have preserved the game data. Similarly, I advise you to ask around the SpongeBob forums for help in finding a specific game.
Among the 15 games on this list, my favorite ones would be Cosmic Shake and Battle for Bikini Bottom. Still, I want you, the reader, to try them out yourselves because, as a SpongeBob fan, you will appreciate the jokes and references the developers and writers insert in them.
Hopefully, the franchise knows what they are doing moving forward because, so far, the direction they are taking seems promising to me. I have a lot of great memories with the games on this list and I plan on making more soon.