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SpongeBob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, Pants!
Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: THQ Studios Australia
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Family/ Party

Graphics & Sound:
SpongeBob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, Pants! is yet another game in the series that features that porous character that lives in a pineapple under the sea. But this time, the SpongeBob Squarepantsgame isn't a platformer or action title -- its a party game.

Graphically, Lights, Camera, Pants! doesn't look much different than the previous games, but the change in focus of the gameplay style means that you can't have exactly the same engine as used before. Instead, now you will find that more times than not, your screen will the split in two or four, and the camera is slightly more removed from the action. But in general, not much has changed and it still feels very much like a SpongeBob Squarepants game.

As for the sound, the game's audio department is on par with its graphics. All of the characters sound like they come straight from the TV series. If these voice actors aren't the ones from the series and movie, then they do a wonderful job of impersonating the characters.

SpongeBob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, Pants! gives the Bikini Bottomers a chance to become stars. As a famous producer, Gill Hammerstein, comes to the undersea town to film an episode of "The New Adventures of Mermaidman and Barnacleboy", everyone wants to take one of the roles.

Lights, Camera, Pants! takes on much more of a party game feel than the previous SpongeBob titles. In the Story Mode, you will simply play through a series of mini-games trying to earn popularity points. Once a character has earned enough points in his or her necessary mini-games, they win the position they are best suited for. But Story Mode is really just practice for the other options. These options let you either go straight into your favorite mini-games (Single Audition Mode) or take part in a multi-player tournament (Tournament Mode) to see who is the best.

In a Wario Ware-like fashion. Tournament Mode has you choosing your character and then forcing all of the players (up to four) to go through mini-game after mini-game. When everything's said and done -- the player with the most popularity points wins.

So what kind of mini-games can you expect to find in Lights, Camera, Pants!? "Flippin' Out" has you flipping Krabby Patties, while "Surf Resc-Goo" tests your fishing capabilities to see what has been washed out to sea. "Pedal of Honor" lets you try your hand at crazy bicycle tricks and "Beats Me" is one for you rhythm gamers out there. That's just a small sample of what SpongeBob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, Pants! has to offer. There are 30 different mini-games that will test how quickly you can press buttons, how well your aim is or how well you can reproduce small musical snippets.

All-in-all, there is enough variety in the types of mini-games present in Lights, Camera, Pants! so that pretty much any gamer (no matter the age) will be able to find an activity that they could play over and over again.

Because there is a wide variety of mini-games in SpongeBob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, Pants!, not only will everyone be able to find a game they are good at -- but they are likely to find one that they have trouble with. For me, I dreaded the rhythm games whenever they were forced upon me.

Most of the time, though, the difficulty isn't dependant on the game itself, it is on who you are going up against. If you are playing against actual people, then how well you do depends on how well your opponents know the game. If you are up against computers, then each of the non-human characters can be set to various difficulty levels, much like the Mario Party games.

Game Mechanics:
Since SpongeBob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, Pants! is full of different games, the control scheme isn't quite as cut and dry as most games out there. Each mini-game has a slightly different control scheme, but in general, the scheme is intuitive and if you don't quite get it right at the beginning of the activity, you typically have a good handle on it after a few seconds. Thankfully, the games aren't quite as short as Wario Ware, so any stumbling at the beginning can be quickly made up before the time runs out.

In general, though, the games consist of using the X button to interact with objects or people in the environment. For games like "Beats Me", you will have to use the X and Square buttons to tap the right and left drums respectively. In mini-games where you are broken up into teams, like "Tethered and Weathered", hitting the X button does different actions depending on which role you have in the mini-game. For instance, in this activity, the kite players use the X button to drop clams while the person on the ground is used to launch your teammate.

Overall, Lights, Camera, Pants! is a varied and fun party game with fairly wide appeal for all ages.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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