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SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off Review: Fun Gameplay Ruined by Ads

Although SpongeBob: Krusty’s Cook-Off has a some potential, it ultimately loses its entertainment value by drowning in ads and in-game purchases.

SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off has a lot of potential as a fun cooking game that stars everyone's favorite sea sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea. Unfortunately, the mobile game from Tilting Point and Nukebox Games for Android and iOS is so inundated with ads that it's hard to enjoy much of the Food Truck Chef-style gameplay. The ever-present ads, along with the issue of needing to buy gems and coins to purchase necessary in-game items, makes SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off feel more like yet another blatant mobile money grab than a game worth playing to play.

In SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-off, SpongeBob is tasked with taking over cooking in a restaurant, but that restaurant is not the Krusty Krab, as fans might expect. Instead, SpongeBob must his cooking career by flipping pancakes at the local pancake stand. Although this is nothing like a SpongeBob version of Diner Dash, flipping pancakes still comes with its challenges. With each level, SpongeBob gets tasked with making more pancakes at greater speed, some which also require a few extra ingredients, along with a side order of coffee. There is also a small bit of story that involves Squidward trying to prevent Spongebob from selling pancakes near his home, as well as Mr. Krab worrying about the health inspector and Patrick wanting to do nothing but go jellyfishing. Eventually, Spongebob can work his way up the ranks from the pancake stand to burger joints and beyond, but only if he manages to keep his customers happy.

Related: 10 Times SpongeBob SquarePants Tackled Deep Issues

Gameplay in Krusty Cook-off involves tapping on items to get them on the grill and then watching the small timers above them to make sure they don't burn. SpongeBob must then plate each item, dress it up as ordered, and tap on the plates to get each one to its server. There are boosters available that allow SpongeBob's equipment to work faster, which becomes more important as the game progresses and he gets more and more orders. SpongeBob can also upgrade his kitchen equipment, as well as decorate his restaurant to show off his own personal flair.

Here is where the game begins to have issues. SpongeBob needs gems and coins to purchase upgrades for his kitchen: in early levels, these are easily earned through gameplay. However, as this is a mobile game with a manipulative monetization model, players will soon find themselves struggling to gain enough coins and gems for free. There is one caveat, though: players can watch 30-second video ads to earn more. This might seem like a no-brainer, but often that 30-second ad is for the same thing over and over, making the entire process feel monotonous and frustrating.

The same 30-second video ads also pop up between levels and must be watched in their entirety to proceed. Players will memorize the ad for Fishdom in no time. Eventually, it might seem like there are more ads than actual gameplay, meaning the game ends up losing much of its entertainment value.

Ultimately, SpongeBob: Krusty's Cook-Off fails its players with its overwhelming number of long video ads and requirements to visit its in-game store. Although gameplay can be fun, if simple, it too often feels like the game's sole purpose is to separate players from their hard-earned cash. This is, sadly, the state of many mobile games, but a game using the SpongeBob franchise should have done it better.

Next: Video Game Monetization Has Become Predatory

SpongeBob: Krusty's Cook-Off is available for iOS and Android.

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