SpongeBob SquarePants fans are an eager, enthused audience. The bubbly foreground and submerged pineapple abode seen in the cartoon’s opening credits is enough fuel to launch viewers of all ages into a swaying, theme song singalong that’s as carefree as the main character himself! So when The Op partnered with Nickelodeon to bring the very first officially licensed SpongeBob SquarePants hobby game to market, a school of our in-house, diehard SpongeBob fans soaked up the opportunity to lend their talents, and brought to life the charming, challenging, and one-of-a-kind cooperative card and dice game—SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising.
Among the wishers of this nautical nonsense be Creative Designer Summer Furzer, Lead Concept Designer O’Neil Mabile, 3D modeler Rachel McIntyre, Communications Coordinator Lauren Hatcher, and Associate Game Designer Wes Ferrer. As though primed and ready to respond to the captain’s call, these five land lubbers took a moment to share their memories about the show, the game, and what they couldn’t wait for players to experience with the latest addition to The Op’s Rising series, which is made for fans, collectors, and hobby gamers of all levels. Join the roundtable discussion (or, in homage to our favorite geometric friend, a symmetrical sit-down) and get in close to this behind-the-scenes conch of what they had to say!
SpongeBob SquarePants is coming up on its 13th season! How long have you all been fans?
Summer: Since 1999! I remember watching the very first episode with my Dad when I was in Kindergarten. 20+ years of SpongeBob-lovin’.
Rachel: I’ve been a fan for nearly 18 years! I have the first five seasons on DVD that were watched more times than I can count.
Wes: I’ve been watching SpongeBob since the very beginning; I was the perfect age to watch it when it came out!
O’Neil: I was a big fan when I was younger, and although I stopped watching, I’ve been a fan for the last 18 years or so.
Lauren: SpongeBob SquarePants was my favorite after-school cartoon. I remember coming home, making a bowl of popcorn, and sitting down to watch a few episodes with my sisters. To this day, we still make SpongeBob jokes and references because of those afternoons. We can recall just about every episode.
For those who aren’t familiar or haven’t played it yet, how would you say SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising stands out from the previous Rising titles that came before it?
Wes: With the minimum age of players being for 8 and up, this is a more family-oriented version of our popular Rising series, making it perfect for a night in that everyone can enjoy.
O’Neil: It has a much more playful, silly feel to it!
Summer: Our other Rising games aren’t as lighthearted compared to this one! Even though the entire game is about defeating the evil Plankton, Pat [Marino, Lead Game Designer] did a great job making this game still feel super happy and bubbly, just like SpongeBob!
Rachel: And it’s about Plankton gaining ground on his competitor, Eugene Krabs, by stealing ingredients of the famed Krabby Patty! The centerpiece has Plankton in his known power pose on top of the Chum Bucket.
What is one thing about Plankton Rising that you personally are most excited about?
Rachel: That I got to work on it!
Wes: Being able to team up with the denizens of Bikini Bottom to defeat Plankton!
Summer: The Plankton Sculpt! It is so cute! I don’t want to keep it in the box.
O’Neil: The story line of the game, overall art of the game, and the sculpt!
Leaving some detail for those who haven’t played yet to discover, list some of your favorite details or features that you, as a fan of the show, just love about this game.
Rachel: The floor plan of the Krusty Krab will resonate with those familiar with the restaurant. The art is very, consistent to the show.
Wes: The Plankton bust and the Krusty Krab layout of the game board really put you into the world of Bikini Bottom.
Summer: The Krusty Krab cards include a lot of side characters and villains that only true fans will recognize!
O’Neil: I agree, some of my favorite secondary characters are thoughtfully included.
Let’s talk about the characters then! Not only do they have very unique personalities and signature traits that make the show hilarious, but players will find they also lend a special touch to the game. Who are you happy to find among the card characters, and why?
Summer: SmittyWerbenManJensen! This Krusty Krab card looks a little different from the rest. [Not a spoiler but something to look for: The name on Smitty’s card resembles his tombstone in the episode he appears in.]
O’Neil: I enjoyed seeing Bubble Bass. I think he’s a good antagonist to SpongeBob and just one of my favorite episodes.
Lauren: I was really excited to see Mermaidman, Barnacleboy, and their villains among the character cards! Those are some of my favorite episodes and it’s really fun to mimic Mermaid Man’s catchphrase, “EVIL! EEEEVVVVIIILLLLL!”
The setting of the game board and design of the components is unmistakable and was key to putting players literally where the Krabby Patty secret formula is kept. What are the special touches in the artwork that you know fans will appreciate?
Wes: I really love when Plankton successfully scans an entire ingredient of the Krabby Patty, that it flips over and becomes a pixelated computer version of the ingredient!
Summer: The Krusty Krab game board shows an aerial floorplan of the restaurant which was created JUST for this game. At least from my research, there aren’t any other depictions of the restaurant out there from this perspective. Because the layout varies in several episodes, I illustrated the floorplan to include the most important and consistent rooms and details of the restaurant. The arrangement of ingredients in the kitchen are based off of the dancing scene in the very first SpongeBob SquarePants episode, “Help Wanted,” where SpongeBob saves the day and makes hundreds, maybe thousands, of Krabby Patties for the anchovies that had swarmed the Krusty Krab. Mr. Krabs hires him on the spot right after this. If you can’t already tell, this is the piece I am most proud of and I think it’s really cool!
Rachel: The graphic artists kept the art very consistent to the show, and you won’t be able to find it like that anywhere else.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising is for 1-4 players, ages 8 and up, and available now for $39.99 from your local game store or in our online shop at TheOp.games! This latest addition to our popular Rising line of cooperative card and dice games joins Thanos Rising: Avengers—Infinity War, Harry Potter™: Death Eaters™ Rising, Star Wars: Dark Side Rising and The Batman Who Laughs Rising.
For a quick overview of how it’s played, watch Pat Marino in the video below in The Op Presents: How to Play SpongeBob Plankton Rising.