A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the game is a collection of cooking-themed mini-games based on the SpongeBob Squarepants cartoon series. The game stays true to the series, and there's no objectionable content to speak of – besides the fact that the Planktons are being paid far less than minimum wage. The game supports a multiplayer mode for up to four players to go head-to-head locally – each person must have a Nintendo DS and a copy of the game.
What's it about?
Bikini Bottom's resident surfer dude Jack Kahuna Laguna decides to throw a big beach party and hold a contest to decide which restaurant gets to cater it. SpongeBob is determined to help the Krusty Krab win, but to do so he has to hire Plankton's cousins as extra kitchen help and teach them how to cook. SPONGEBOB VS. THE BIG ONE: BEACH PARTY COOK-OFF follows in the footsteps of Cooking Mama by offering 25 cooking-themed mini-games in which players use the Nintendo DS stylus to simulate actions like chopping vegetables, pounding dough, flipping patties, and garnishing salads and sundaes.
Is it any good?
Although it clearly borrows its concept from Cooking Mama, and isn't quite as refined, Beach Party Cook-Off does a good job of adapting the formula for SpongeBob fans. The game is fully voice-acted, and the Plankton look cute as they work away in the kitchen. With more than 100 recipes to unlock (many of them SpongeBob themed like seaweed salad and the Bubble Bass Special), the game offers a decent length and support for up to four-person multiplayer. It's just a shame there isn't more of an ongoing story in between levels to break up the action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about wages. Was it fair for Plankton to expect his cousins to work for free in his restaurant just because they were family? What is "minimum wage" and why is it an important concept? If you could make one of the Krusty Krab's dishes in real life, which one would it be?
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