Spongebob Squarepants: Plankton Rising by The Op — Plankton is Relentless!

We were sent Spongebob Squarepants: Plankton Rising to review by The Op, a cooperative game that follows the Rising series style with a Spongebob theme. This is not a paint job slapped onto the same title, rather, it is a thoroughly integrated theme made for Spongebob fans. In this game, the main objective is to stop Plankton from stealing the Krabby Patty recipe. To do so, at least seven Orders need to be completed (standard game) and Friends need to be collected to help stop Plankton from taking the Krabby Patty ingredients and figuring out the secret formula.

Plankton is confident

Each person chooses their main character (Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward, or Mr. Krabs) and takes their corresponding Team Deployment Token and Team Home Base card. The Home Base cards show each character’s unique ability (usually if you roll 1 of your deployment icon you’ll get a bonus, or on your first roll if you roll 3 + of that icon you’ll get an extra good bonus). Dice are shared like in other Rising games but your Home Base card says which colors are your main dice. You can earn more dice to roll in addition later via Friend cards you’ve collected. Each color die is more likely to roll a specific icon than the other colors, so it can be strategic later on to try and collect more dice of specific colors.

Squidward and his Home Base card mid game, to the right is another Friend collected

The main board is comprised of the Krusty Krab — a kitchen side and a dining side. Four cards from the Krusty Krab deck are placed on each side, a total of eight on the board and the rest in a facedown deck. The Krusty Krab cards are comprised of Villains, Friends, and Orders. At the beginning of each turn, the active player will choose either the kitchen or dining side to place their Team Deployment Token, depending on which four cards they want to interact with. Then, they will draw a Plankton Action Card which determines two things. First, the location where Plankton will go. Plankton will either go to one of these sides or the Chum Bucket (off board) for that turn. If Plankton is in the dining or kitchen area, he will add a time token to each friend on that side of the board plus all active player’s collected friends whose token is on that location). If any Friend has their time counters full by the end of turn, they will be discarded. If ten friends are discarded, or all of one players friends are discarded, the game is over. The Plankton Action Card will also determine an ingredient of the Krabby Patty that will get a Theft Token placed on it. The Krabby Patty is a series of board panels placed to the side of the Krusty Krab, each with five slots for Theft Counters. If the Theft Counters for one ingredient is filled, on the following turn, the flip side will be revealed. This second side shows that Plankton’s computer has analyzed the ingredient and has a negative effect the next time that ingredient is drawn on a Plankton Action Card. If the top bun is analyzed by the computer for example, everyone has to add 1 Time Counter to each of their team’s Friends who have the least Time Counters on them already. In most games, we only had to maybe flip over one or two of these ingredients that became full with theft counters, but there are very few ways to remove theft counters in the game. If Plankton analyzes each ingredient, all players lose.

Theft Counters on the Krabby Patty ingredients

After the Plankton Action Card is resolved, the active player will roll their starting dice pool plus any dice they have gained from Friends they have collected (it will say on the bottom of the Friend what ability they add for the active player). These aren’t always extra dice abilities, some Friends are helpful in other ways, like Harold & Margaret Squarepants, who allow the player once per turn to change a Teamwork token to any face. Once the active player rolls their dice, they must assign them to one of the Krusty Krab cards in the game. At least one dice must be assigned per roll, and after that, players may choose to re-roll to get different results. If the assigned die match the type and quantity required to fulfill the card, that card can be removed from the side it was on (Friends collected are placed with the active player, completed Orders in a shared pile, and Villains defeated are discarded). Then the Krusty Krab deck replaces the card(s) collected for the next player turn.

There are three dice assigned to the first card on the left with the ukelele symbol, an additional trophy symbol is needed to collect this card.

Each of the Krusty Krab card types adds a challenge to the game. Friends and villains can both have Time Counters added to them (white cubes). For Friends, the amount of Time Counters that would fill the card vary depending on Friends, usually they have about three to five slots. The Villain and Orders also add additional challenges, for example, Bubble Bass says “If Plankton is present, +1 [time counter] to each Friend on your team”. There are similar consequences on the bottom of the order cards. We found that the Time Counters add up very quickly and we needed to actively try and get rid of them.

Smitty (who is already a skeleton) will die if these Time Counters remain on his card at the end of the active player’s turn

One way to get rid of counters is to use the Home Base card abilities. Spongebob’s house lets you “-1 [time counter] from any Friend” for 1 Teamwork token assigned to the card. All players have a way to remove time counters on their Home Base cards, which is very helpful, If you were to roll 3 or more Teamwork tokens on your first roll for Spongebob’s House, you could remove “-1 [time counters] from any two Friends” which is great because you do not need to assign those dice like you need to with Spongebob’s first ability and it helps multiple Friends. These can be Friends you’ve collected, Friends on the board, or Friends collected by other players. Of course the second ability that is more powerful is much harder to achieve but it is possible.


Another way to get rid of time counter’s piling up is to get rid of Orders and Villains as quickly as possible. Orders are typically not as hard to get rid of, they are on par with the Friends in the amount of dice that need assigned to resolve them. If you collect the Order, the negative ability on the bottom no longer is in effect and you get a Spatula token. Spatula tokens are random and can give you an extra die, token symbol, time counter removal, or theft counter removal. Villains however, are much harder to get rid of. Once all the dice required are assigned to the card, a single time counter is placed on the Villain. They usually require two counters before being defeated and so take multiple turns to be defeated. Adding a time counter to the Villain gives the active player a Spatula Token each time however, which makes the challenge a little sweeter. Because Villains are so hard to get rid of, their negative abilities tend to stay in play for longer and make the game harder. For example, Man Ray’s card states, “If Plankton is present, +1 [theft counter] to any ingredient”, making it much faster for Plankton to collect the pieces of Krabby Patty.

Various Friends

What makes Spongebob Squarepants: Plankton Rising so great is that the challenges are varied and all happening in concert with each other. This makes the player need to juggle their strategy between collecting Friends, defeating Villains, collecting Orders, trying to keep Plankton from collecting Krabby Patty ingredients, and not losing their Friend characters at the same time. This makes for the ultimate co-op as players decide together what they are going for to help the team accomplish all of these goals. There are many ways to lose (Plankton figures out the secret formula, ten Friends are discarded, or all of one player’s friends are discarded), so there is a lot to keep track of. It feels very action packed throughout and it is tied together so nicely that even though there are many challenges they all make sense within the game’s universe and a balance can be achieved if people work together diligently.

Language Barrier Playability: This game does rely on language, there is text on most of the cards that would not be easy to translate continuously. Especially because there are certain abilities that are persistent, a player would have to memorize the current conditions constantly.

Replayability: This game is very replayable especially if you like a challenge. The box details ways to up the difficulty by adding a number of Orders that need completed, or removing challenges by removing a number of Villains. Even upon replays it was challenging to us each time so even though you can refine your strategy, it is a game that will remain difficult (but achievable).

Artwork: Wonderful. The Spongebob artwork is portrayed exactly the same as the show, The background of the cards appears to be the inside of the Chum Bucket and is a nice, clear design. The dice are textile and the colors pop. The Krusty Krab Board layout is perfect for the game. Not to mention the Plankton standing atop the Chum Bucket figure which really is a beautiful game piece.

Strategy: Strategy is necessary, you cannot win this game with luck. Cooperation is highly important as players will have to help each other remove Time Counters, share Spatula Tokens where needed, and go after the Villains to stop them from wreaking havoc.

Quality: This goes back to the artwork, not only are the pieces artistically pleasing but they are well made. This game looks like it was made to last, with sturdy cardboard, solid dice, and nice plastic pieces. This is a game that will look good for years of playthrough. If we are being super picky, the Instruction Manual is thin, so crinkles slightly, but not detrimentally.

Instruction Manual: Super clear. The instruction manual is short with a lot of visual aid to quickly get the game started. Steps are clearly outlined and labeled in images. Our favorite part was the image associated with the Solo Variant, which is from the episode where Spongebob draws smiley faces on his fingers and pretends they are his friends. This was a hilarious nod to the show and really showed that the game maker did their homework.

Organization: The game board has a good number of components and they all organize well within the box. The slots are not too big or too small and it closes neatly. It takes very little time to put all the components away or bring back out again.

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