Reviews

Naughty Bear – review

Release Date: Out now.
Developer: Artificial mind and Movement inc.
Publisher: 505 Games
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen: No
Multiplayer: 2-4
PEGI: 12

Gaming is fairly bland at the moment in terms of idea’s.
Not to say that we don’t have stunning games but most of them have no originality about them and many have sacrificed pure fun for the current trend of dark and mature plots.

But on paper Naughty Bear is completely different, offering great idea’s and unique gameplay to draw in the crowds.
Its premise is simple, you take control of Naughty, a disgruntled Teddy bear on Paradise Island.
However things get worse when Naughty is not invited to a birthday party by the other Bears and he sets out on a mission of vengeance which is helped along by a british sounding narrator. right. Certainly different.

This all takes the form of the games main focus of Naughty Points which are earned by physically and mentally torturing the other Bears in the most imaginative ways you can devise, from simply jumping out and shouting “BOO!” to slamming their face into a burning BBQ. Ouch.
It’s certainly unique and considering the game has no blood (they’re Teddy Bears after all) nor gore it’s actually quite a brutal affair. Hurt a Bear enough and he’ll start limping and whimpering while trying to get away and it’s actually quite pitiful, and yet empowering  at the same time.

Likewise the games “Ultra Kills” which are unique to each in-game weapon are all suitably brutal to witness, Naughty will slam axe’s into heads, stab them in the stomach and use a golf club to smash heads in. They’re all entertaining to watch the first few times but after that you’ll begin to bore of them and sadly there are not actually that many weapons in the game so you’ll quickly find the kills being repeated.

But just killing is only a small part, while it may score you a good amount of points it’s far from the highest scoring you can get.
In fact scoring large amounts of points does require some skill and planning.
You can sabotage items around the game world such as power supplies and cars and wait for Bears to come and fix them, while they do so you can sneak up and pull of a contextual kill which is once again suitable brutal or you can choose to scare them. “Wait” I hear you say, why do that?
The single highest scoring action is to drive Bears insane, done by scaring them, making them watch other Bears pain and fear and hurting them.
Keeping a Bear barely alive and letting him walk around will often terrify the other Bears leading to some extra points, and if they encounter an Insane Bear that nets you even more.
Bears that have turned insane can also be scared one last time, which in turn causes them to commit suicide. It’s great fun the first few times as they blow their own brains out, stab themselves or just inflate and pop but like the Ultra Kills they begin to get old after a while and you won’t even pay attention to the small window that opens at the top of the screen showing them commit suicide.

Along with this you can lay traps as well, leaving a screaming Bear in a trap will scare others or result in another Bear trying to rescue them giving you plenty of time to get two for the price of one. It leaves plenty of space open for tactical planning but after a while you’ll quickly find yourself repeating the same tired actions over and over.

In all there are seven main levels to the game, each consisting of two or three area’s and tasking you with scoring the highest amount you can and punishing a specific Bear. Much of the appeal comes from the fact it shows you your friends high scores just taunting you to try to beat them lending some replayability to the whole thing.
Sadly these seven main levels can be completed in around 4-5 hours, more or less depending on whether you just get the minimum requirements or try to score high.
But you also have sub-challenges to take part in. Killer challenges are easy simply asking you to kill the Bears while other challenges such as the Invisibility challenge task you with taking them out without being seen which forces you to make good use of Naughty’s ability to magically hide in the woods by holding a leaf in front of his face. This can lead to a few wierd moments as a Bear clearly watches you enter the woods but as soon as you do you’re magically invisible. Only a few Bears can see you and follow you such as the B.E.A.R teams (like S.W.A.T teams)
Other challenges task you with driving them all insane or doing speed-runs and these add some variety to the game.

As you progress you’ll unlock new costumes for Naughty and there is a good amount of them as well, each offering different stat boosts and some coming with weapons. They all look unique and can add a little extra flavour to the game. Many Achievements are based upon these as well giving the game a little extra replayability.

It’s a brilliant game for the first few hours as you hack Bears up and drive them nuts, and you’ll be smiling the whole time but after the initial novelty you’ll begin to see the flaws in the game.
As you progress no new tactics or tricks become available and only one or two new weapons appear thus meaning you’ll be doing almost exactly the same things for the entire game.
The game has three or 4 very small locations of which you tire of after a short time, though this does let you memorize layouts and help with planning they’ll lost their appeal after a short time and you’ll be wishing for new locations to visit.

Other minor issue’s can frustrate such as some odd gun aiming controls and an occasionally awkward camera and the AI can sometimes get themselves stuck or completely ignore sabotaged items leading to some dull waiting games.
Odd things such as them escaping in a car even though you’ve sabotaged the motor can leave you feeling a little confused as does the Bears odd habit of stopping at campfires to warm their hands while they’re running away from you.
Couple that with weapons having little impact when you hit a Bear, not being able ti climb over fences, clipping issues and frame-rate drops and it all adds up.

Naughty Bear contains the idea’s and sheer fun value but never manages to deliver on the idea’s.
In many respects this game feels as though it belongs on Xbox Live Arcade or should have been released as a budget title. If it had been done as either this game would have been a big success and have worked well but as a full retail release it simply does not deliver enough variety or polish to contend with rest of the games market.
For the first few hours Naughty Bear is highly entertaining and unique but after a time the idea’s begin to wilt and become repetitive and the lack of variety in locations and gameplay begins to bore but I have no doubt that this game will find a niche of gamers to slot itself into and it does deserve it for all of its flaws it’s unique and plain fun which are both things that many games now are lacking in.

The Good:
– It’s unique
– It’s Teddy Bears for crying out loud!
– Brutal kills and driving them insane feels awesome.

The Bad:
– Not enough locations
– Poor graphics
– Gamplay loses its appeal
– It has alot of little problems that add up

Scores:

Graphics: 5
The cutesy art style helps save the game a little here but the low resolution textures and general lack of detail or polish equal a poor looking game.

Sound: 6.5
While the voice acting is limited to the Narrator who does a good job there is some average music and the Bears all whimper well enough but it’s far from groundbreaking.

Story: 4.5
It’s a fun story of revenge but that’s it, Naughty wants revenge. You’ll somehow encounter aliens and zombies along the way as well

Gameplay: 6
Actually pretty fun for the first few hours and it’ll make you smile, but after that it becomes repetitive and all the flaws start to irk you. If the game had offered more locations and new things to do as it progressed then it would have been much better

Lifespan: 7
The main missions can be beaten very quickly as can the challenges but for those that love to hunt the high score it can become addictive and unlocking all the costumes and getting the highest trophies will take time.

overall: 6
Naughty Bear could have been so much more, it’s unique and fun to play but ultimately its myriad of flaws and lack of variety are its biggest enemy.
If it had been released as a budget title this would have actually been a very good game but as a full release it just doesn’t offer enough value for money.
But if you can get it cheap and want something different and funny then this game is worth a shot, or at least a rent.

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