by Jeff Gates
reviewed on X360
Innovation and breaking the norm are becoming rarities in gaming today, mainly because there isn’t much that hasn’t already been done. And some companies are too afraid to take the chance of something different. Naughty Bear has the opportunity to be one of those games that attempts to break the mold. With comic mischief and brutal teddy bear homicide A2M and 505 Games hope they have made a title that delivers a unique experience to players.
Naughty Bear is all about an island called Perfection. On this island lives a population of stuffed teddy bears that all get along quite well, except for one bear named Naughty Bear. The other bears don’t like Naughty because he is a devious and disturbed fellow. So Naughty decides to take matters into his own hands and rid the island of anything he doesn’t like, which seems to be everything.
There really isn’t much of a plot to the game – other than that Naughty is seeking revenge on the other bears – but the narration and short films before levels add some ambiance outside the normal gameplay. The narrator is essentially a voice in Naughty’s head telling him to kill all the bears and rid the area of foes. The cartoon violence is really quite evil and disturbing at times, which I loved.
Episodes and challenges
While the overall tone is a blend of comic mischief and over-the-top violence the game’s “meat and potatoes” are the levels in which you must complete. The developers went for a more old-school feel to the design of the game. Instead of opting for a linear story driven experience Naughty Bear is split into 7 episodes each with 5 different levels. You can come and go through these as you please. Getting higher scores in earlier levels unlocks the later ones and so on. This would be quite alright if the levels themselves were diverse enough to keep it all fresh. The game consists of about three different areas or maps. In almost every single level you will start out in Naughty’s home and advance to one of the other 2 areas, so prepare to see a lot of the same things. The lack of locations is only further hampered by the fact that there really is not much diversity in the levels either.
There are 7 different types of challenges. Each level (other than the first of each episode) consists of a single challenge. For example, in ‘Episode 1: The Party’ you just run around and rack up as many points as possible and kill a particular bear at the end. In Episode 1-1 your goal is to kill all the bears in the level. In Episode 1-2 you have to kill all the bears without hitting them, instead using contextual kills and traps to take them out. The levels may possibly sound diverse but because you are in the same place every time and essentially kill the bears in the same fashion it becomes repetitive.
Now that I have mentioned repetitive I think it is imperative that I talk about the controls. X hits, A picks up, B drops, LT scares and RT performs contextual kills. You will for the most part find that all you will be doing is going from one bear to another like this: Sneak up hit LT to scare, if they aren’t frightened pound X till they die. If they are frightened keep chasing them and hitting LT until you lead them to a trap or they kill themselves. I will say driving a stuffed bear to insanity or to kill themselves is rather enjoyable. However suicidal stuffed animals don’t alter the fact that the controls and gameplay can be quite recurring. Completing the same basic levels on the same map using the same methods and weapons is a bit of a bore.
Developers of Naughty Bear say it isn’t the killing that is important but the scaring of the other bears that is essential. Maiming a fluffed up yellow teddy in the middle of a disco party is much more effective then snapping their neck in the bushes. This is actually quite correct; you will see your “Naughty Points” rise a great deal when bears are terrified. It will also make it easier to kill them.
Hacking teddy bears up into pieces is quite fun.
Repetitive gameplay and lack of core story make this a short lived.