Spongebob Squarepants is a Nickelodeon cartoon character who lives under the Pacific Ocean in a town filled with nautical symbology.
He was created by animator Stephen Hillenberg and stars in a more than decade old, worldwide popular, eponymous television show.
He has also appeared in a major motion picture in 2004, another one in 2015 and over 30 video games.
He first aired on May 1, 1999.
Spongebob is a yellow kitchen sponge with large blue eyes and a long thin nose. He has three eyelashes on each eye, three freckles on each cheek, and a recognizable pattern of holes.
Animators dislike the number of details required to draw Spongebob such as his pattern of holes. A single mis-sized hole or miscount on eyelashes can make the character look odd.
Spongebob also wears clothing only on the lower third of his body. He typically wears a white shirt with sleeves only on his shoulders, a red tie, tan shorts with a belt, and black shoes with knee socks.
Spongebob in all his voiced appearance in television and video games has been voiced by veteran voice actor Tom Kenny ( Escape from Monkey Island).
Kenny has stated the voice is high-pitched and giggly in order to sound like a dolphin underwater.
Spongebob's ubiquitous, bubbly laugh is achieved by Kenny jiggling his Adam's apple while lauging.
Spongebob is an eternal optimist. He finds joy in any situation. Sometimes his boundless energy is contagious and at other times it causes problems. He is incredibly friendly to everyone, even his neighbor Squidward Tentacles, who blatantly shows Spongebob that he hates him and wants nothing more than to not talk to him ever.
Creator Stephen Hillenberg has stated that the original conception of the show had Spongebob causing trouble with his optimism. This theme holds with his character in any media.
Stephen Hillenberg was a marine biology teacher before he went to the California Academy of the Arts. He learned animation at Cal Arts and was classmates with other famous animators who now work at Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks or created Rocko's Modern Life.
He fiddled with the idea of a nautically themed show since 1984. The show was supposed to be a veiled morality tale satire with each character representing one of the seven deadly sins (Mr. Krabs was greed, Plankton was avarice, Patrick was sloth, Squidward was pride, etc.) In the end, the animation style lent itself to a more wacky form of comedy.
Many of Spongebob's famous locations in Bikini Bottom feature non-sequitur items like boats as cars underwater, an Easter Island head, and of course a pineapple under the sea. Spongebob's world is meant to be an amalgamation of immediately recognizable symbols of the sea which enhances enjoyment of his world.
Hillenberg states that Spongebob was designed to be a cellophane sponge because it was easier to draw.
Video Game Appearances
Spongebob as a recognized children's icon has been featured in a number of video games . The games run the gambit of genres from side-scroller to adventure game to mini-game compilation to platformer to cart racer. Many of the games targeted at children.
Due the intended audience being children, many of the video games have simplistic controls and storylines. Furthermore, they are often rushed through production to coincide with a new season or new special episode of the Spongebob television show.
Many of these games loosely have to do with the themes or characters of the television show. Frequently, they tie-in to air dates of the television show and feature locations and characters from recent episodes. As with most tie-ins, these inclusions are sometimes based on design documents rather than knowledge of the actual show. Therefore, these tie-ins are only corollary in their relationship to Spongebob other than licensed appearances and similar locations.
Spongebob is often used as a known protagonist -- a character who relies on previous knowledge of his or her personality and exploits in other works.
Most of the games have received middling to low scores from critics for sticking to genre conventions and not attempting to excel in any way or use the license in creative ways.
A notable exception is 2003's Spongebob Squarepants: The Battle for Bikini Bottom. This action platformer received above average reviews. It contained all regular characters plus many cameos from lesser known characters. The regular voice cast, including Tom Kenny and Clancy Brown, Jr., voiced the forty hours of dialogue.
The game was a large action-adventure platformer that took players around Bikini Bottom and its resident's dreams. The story was penned by several of the television show's writers including the voice of Plankton himself: Mr. Lawrence.