This SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising review was made after playing the game five times.
What is Plankton Rising?
SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising is a card and dice game set in the popular world of SpongeBob SquarePants. Your goal in the game is to prevent Plankton from figuring out the Krabby Patty secret formula.
Plankton Rising Gameplay
In SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising, you’re rolling dice, gaining new Friend cards that give you new abilities, and attempting to complete a number of food orders before Plankton figures out the Krabby Patty formula. Each player begins the game with a Team Home Base card and a Team Leader, which gives you your starting dice pools and your starting abilities.
You and your teammates will take turns until you’ve either won or lost. Each turn has four quick phases:
- Place Team Token – Here you decide whether you want to go into the kitchen or the dining room. Each location has four cards that you can potentially interact with if you end up with the required dice icons. There are Friends that you can add to your team, Orders that you can complete, and Villains that you can try to defeat.
- Resolve a Plankton Card – Each Plankton card gets Plankton closer to figuring out the secret formula and usually allows him to bother customers in the restaurant. After you flip the card, you add a Theft cube to the Ingredient tile shown and you move the Plankton figure to the correct area (or off to the side of the board if it says “Chum Bucket”). If Plankton is in the kitchen or dining room, he’ll activate the abilities on any Villain and Order cards in that location and he’ll add a Time cube to all Friend cards there, including the Friends on the active player’s team.
- Roll and Assign Friend Dice – Here you gather all of the dice you get from the Friends on your team and roll them. You then assign at least one die to a Friend, Order, or Villain card (or discard a die if you can’t place it). You then reroll any remaining dice and repeat the same process until you have no dice remaining.
- Resolve Friend Dice – If you matched all of the icons shown on a Friend card, you add that card to your team. If you matched all of the icons on an Order card, you gain that card. If you matched all of the icons on a Villain card, you either add a Time cube to the card or, if all of the Time Counter spaces are filled, you remove the card and gain a number of Spatula tokens equal to the number of Time Counter spaces on the card. Spatula tokens give you extra icons or abilities that anyone can use during any turn.
If at the end of a turn an Ingredient tile has all of its Theft Counter slots filled, you flip it over to its computer side and a new Plankton ability activates each time that ingredient shows up on a card. If a Friend card has all of its Time Counter spaces filled, it is removed and replaced with a new card.
You’ll lose the game if all of the Ingredient tiles are flipped, if Plankton removes 10 or more Friend cards, or if any player has zero Friend cards in front of them at the end of a turn. You’ll win the game by completing a certain number of orders, which depends on the difficulty level you chose at the beginning of the game.
For more info on how the game plays, check out the SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising rulebook (PDF).
- There are some fun decisions to be made throughout each game of Plankton Rising. Deciding which of the two areas of The Krusty Krab you want to go to is pretty obvious most of the time, but deciding where to place your dice can be a bit trickier. Sometimes you roll the dice perfectly and get the card you wanted, but most of the time you have to reevaluate after each roll. You might start your turn going for a specific Friend card, but your initial roll could change your mind and you end up trying to fill an order instead.
- You do feel more powerful as you gain more Friend cards and Spatula tokens. Getting to roll a bunch of dice and use your new abilities is very satisfying.
- I’m not going to say that Plankton Rising is an extremely thematic game, but the designers definitely did do enough to make you feel like you’re watching an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants play out. They included just about every character from the series and the look of the game is just right. Also, the Krabby Patty tiles flipping over and showing the computer analysis image was a nice thematic touch.
- Turns are snappy, so there isn’t much downtime regardless of player count. Plus, you are genuinely interested in seeing how all of your teammates’ turns play out because you want to know what cards will be available to you.
- I like how easy it is to adjust the difficulty level. To make it tougher, you can simply try to fill more orders. To make it easier, you just remove one or more of the Villain cards from the deck.
- That Plankton figure is awesome.
- It’s pretty disappointing that there are only four playable Team Leader characters. At the very least I think they should have included Sandy as a Team Leader and her Treedome as a Team Home Base card.
I’m a huge SpongeBob fan, so I had a pretty good feeling that I was going to have fun playing Plankton Rising. Well, it actually exceeded my expectations despite the fact that it plays pretty much the same way as Thanos Rising, a game I wasn’t too high on. It has all of the well-known characters from the show, which is awesome, and it is slightly easier to get into than Thanos Rising. Plus, I think it looks fantastic on the table. I’ve played the game five times now and, after adjusting the difficulty level to suit my group, the fifth game was just as enjoyable as the first.
I highly recommend SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising to fans of the show who are looking for a solid family-weight cooperative game. I’m definitely going to be keeping this one.
Update: SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising was included on my Top 10 Cooperative Board Games of 2020 list!