The game is a hidden object style game featuring almost every character that appears in the SpongeBob SquarePants series. The game is played by finding characters that are listed, however, there is a twist in all five levels:
Level 1: Normal gameplay.
Level 2: The buddies are concealed by shadows, but parts of their bodies without shadows will move slightly.
Level 3: The player needs to feed an anglerfish to be able to see in the dark clearly for buddies. The unfed angler produces a very small light and follows the player quicker.
Level 4: The buddies are concealed by shadows, so the player must use X-Ray glasses to find buddies who have eaten Krabby Patties.
Level 5: The player must steer their sub with the arrow keys and use sonar waves to find buddies that they can bounce off of. The buddies required are completely hidden from view.
Bubbles help the player find buddies. Once all of the buddies in a level are found, the player unlocks the next level and a challenge mode for that level, as well as the found buddies appearing on a shelf. In challenge mode, there are added difficulties, medals given for how good the player performed, and a mix of normal mode and challenge mode offers exclusive buddies to find. Once the buddies are found, the ones that are exclusive to challenge mode are added to the shelf. The added difficulties are:
Level 1: There is a time limit. The faster the player finds the buddies, the better the medal.
Level 2: The player can only miss 5 times. The less misses the player makes, the better the medal.
Level 3: The player has only 15 angler chow. The less angler chow the player uses, the better the medal.
Level 4: The player can only use their X-Ray glasses 15 times. The less times the player uses their X-Ray glasses, the better the medal.
Level 5: The player only has 15 sonar. The less sonar the player uses, the better the medal.
Once the player has completed all levels in normal mode, they unlock a special download with the background used in-game and a sticker sheet of all the characters. They can also watch a special exclusive episode on Nickelodeon, the then-unreleased episode "Yeti Krabs."