Getting out ahead of the E3 news avalanche, THQ Nordic this week announced three new games. It seems the launch of this blog was perfectly timed, because one game they revealed was SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated. The remake is being led by Purple Lamp Studios, a fairly new games house currently working on three projects including also strategy game The Guild 3 and an undisclosed third project.
The reveal of this remake didn’t seem like a big deal to me at the time, but it wasn’t long before the comments section of every news outlet covering the story informed me that Battle for Bikini Bottom is actually a cult classic Nick game and many people are as excited for this game as SpongeBob is for… anything.
With this nostalgia overload incoming, it got me thinking about what other old school Nickelodeon games deserve a fresh coat of paint. After all, THQ Nordic announced last year that they would be bringing some of the old Nickelodeon catalog back into stores, so SpongeBob is just the start. Here are five more that would do well with a comeback.
If you had a PS2, GameCube, or Game Boy Advance during the early aughts, you probably had Beach Bandits. If not, you really should’ve. Beach Bandits plays like a Nicktoons version of the Tony Hawk series, only it goes beyond just skateboarding to include other extreme sports like surfing and biking. It’s all structured around a cliche but fun story that feels taken right out of the show, where the beach-faring kids have to defend the boardwalk from greedy land buyers.
As is the case with most games on this list, Beach Bandits wouldn’t do well enough with just a visual makeover. It would likely need a full remake to feel like it plays well on today’s consoles. Even the Tony Hawk games of that era haven’t aged so well. But Crash Bandicoot and Spyro have set a new high standard, and it appears, right now at least, that SpongeBob will be going the same route. Beach Bandits would also do well with such treatment.
Tak and the Power of Juju
Perpetually present on every Blockbuster shelf nearly two decades ago was Tak and the Power of Juju, a 3D action platformer from yesteryear that spawned several sequels and even eventually became a short-lived TV series on Nickelodeon — yes, in this case the games came first. Though the show didn’t impress many, the games were fun and at this point would feel nostalgic and well-timed at once since the genre has a bit of a resurgence thanks to games like Yooka-Laylee and Activision’s remakes.
Later sequels in the Tak franchise tended to have higher review scores than the original too. The original earned a Metacritic score of 68 while later sequels were all in the low to mid-70s. That’s consistency worth revisiting.
Rocko’s Modern Life
Okay, I’ll admit the 2D Rocko game on NES wasn’t very good, but I’m not asking for a remake here, per se. I think a 3D game set in the risque Rocko’s Modern Life universe right as the show is due to return a la Nickelodeon and Netflix later this year. It’s really a property that was much too inappropriate for its original audience and it would never survive today’s Nicktoons lineup, but for players around my age (I’m 30), it would be on par with revisiting Ren & Stimpy or almost even Beavis and Butthead on MTV.
Comedy games are few and far between and that always baffles me considering how prevalent comedy is everywhere else. Bringing Rocko onto modern platforms in a similar way Justin Roiland has done with Rick and Morty and, more recently, Trover Saves the Universe, would be an invitation to celebrate the uniquely strange Nicktoon of the early 90s with its envelope-pushing jokes.
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
Like Rocko above, the Real Monsters game on the NES was not good. In fact, it was pretty terrible, but again I’m looking at this one as more of a reimagining. In this case, the 2D style may still work, but regardless this one has great potential given the property’s three main characters, each of whom would be playable and offer their own skills.
Solving puzzles by combining the abilities of Ickis, Oblina, and (my personal favorite) Krumm just feels too interesting to leave alone. The only downside I see here is in 2019, I don’t think Real Monsters has been remembered too fondly as a show — though there was that awesome crossover episode with Rugrats that blew my mind when I was a kid.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
While achievement hunters have fond memories of Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth for its sub-five minute achievement list — it’s still the fastest game to 1,000 gamerscore today — more diehard Avatar fans remember the series as one of the best things Nickelodeon has ever done. The games have been an up and down affair but the fandom is so ripe for revisiting that more games in the Avatar universe just feel necessary.
What’s more, since THQ Nordic has already announced plans to work with Nick properties again, it would seem likely Avatar is high atop their to-do list. The only issue I can foresee is whether THQ Nordic has the rights to the series, since the most recent game in the franchise, The Legend of Korra (2014, PlatinumGames) was published by Activision. That game was also famously rushed and lacked crucial resources, so maybe Activision has washed their hands of it all and THQ Nordic can continue their reign of unexpected releases.