26th June 2010 - No one was quite sure what to expect with Naughty Bear. Some said it was a open-worded game ala GTA, some said it was a full-price Arcade Title. Some even said it would suck… But now that its here, it time to dispel all those rumours. Naughty Bear is unlike anything you’ve ever played, and while it may not be for everyone, it sure is for the gamer who still enjoys a little thing found scarcely in the gaming industry these days; pure unadulterated fun!
Naughty Bear doesn’t necessarily have a over-arching story. You see, you play Naughty, a misunderstood teddy bear who never gets invited to any of the parties, who is always laughed at and who simply doesn’t fit in. So its time to raid the closet, find yourself a good hard weapon and go to town, punishing all the other Teddies for their indiscretions and hurtful actions… In the most brutal and messed up ways possible. Now if that doesn’t sound fun to you, you may as well avert your eyes from this page right away, as that’s what Naughty Bear is all about, and why its so damn good.
Of course, a game with a fun sounding concept needs the backbone to hold it up. So its good then, that Naughty Bears’ control scheme is a great way to do the naughty deeds that need doing. Easy to pick up and play, and hard to forget, you will be punishing bears and mayors in no time. And to add to the charm is that although its easy to pick up, to master the layout of the map and the many ways to execute the opposition, it takes a real master. Both game-wise and creatively, as you will be using your noggin a surprising amount in this game as you try to stalk and execute your victims in the most points-happy ways available. But thing here is, Naughty Bear doesn’t actually have very good gameplay mechanics. In fact, it’s the simplicity charm that makes it worthwhile, and really lets thing emphasize on the violence at hand.
Now onto the most unhealthy lie about this game; its not a freeroam game. Its not an open-world game and its most certainly nothing like GTA or Postal. Each mission lets you play through a handful of small areas, of which you will play through many times for each different missions and challenges. So while you do get used to the levels and game, it actually becomes very repetitive. And while it is repetitive, its strangely enjoyable to replay the older missions, if not to just try to beat all your mates on the ever-present leaderboards.
There are a ton of weapons to choose from as you go about your daily routine too, meaning a ton of different ways to experiment killing the other teddies with. Do you want to Axe a bear in the face? How about beat one to death with a big piece of ham? Or why not just go all ‘G’ on the others and equip yourself with an Uzi? The choice is yours, and what a load of choice there is! You can even spring traps, like Bear Traps and Land Mines. But of course, nothing is as downright awesome or naughty as the contextual kill. Sabotage almost anything and wait for a helpless bear to try to repair it, only to sneak up and enjoy a show of ultra-violence usually reserved for Eli Roth films.
Before the game was released, my only real concern was for the AI. So its with great joy I can honestly say that it’s a lot better than I was expecting. In fact, its quite great. The more sadistic, naughty and mean things you do to the bears without killing them gets them more and more scared. This drastically changes the way things play out. If a bear find his buddy dead in the fireplace, he wont be happy. But if he sees you put him in there, then he will in an even worse state. Push him too far, with ‘Boos’, breakages and violence, and he will go insane, killing himself after another ‘Boo’ with whatever he has in his hands. But some bears aren’t as easily frightened, and will take their leadership skills to new levels, creating Gangs of sorts and giving orders to hunt you down. The bears will arm themselves to the teeth and then its really on. No time for being scared and trying to escape, they want revenge and its up to you to show them they cant have it. It makes every playthrough of the few levels and many challenges very different and is a great point in this games structure.
This department is the one which really makes Naughty Bear stand out. The game takes the graphical styling’s of a child’s game; its has nothing but bright, happy colours and all the characters and cute, cuddly teddy bears (which I must say, makes the violence all the more enjoyable and hilarious). And thing is, if it didn’t look so childish and kiddy, it probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as great. The look goes hand-in-hand with the simple feel and gameplay and like the gameplay, makes all of the games trademark violence and brutality have even more of an impact.
But where things get a little down are in the little things. It may not be immediately noticeable, but during the game, there are a few times when framerate drops and the game lags like a match of Call of Duty. Ok, not that bad, but its still annoying. Another downer, is that if your not in total control of the camera, it will often really mess things up for you the way it sways behind you and tries to turn as you do. You can control the camera of course, but its very difficult to do that while also fighting off teddies, police, zombies, ninjas- all of them.
And perhaps the worst point of things here, and my personal most hated thing about the game; the mini map. There is no full map in its own menu or anything, so you will have to do with the games mini map to find and stalk your prey. And it’s a shame really, because the mini map is possibly the worst one I’ve ever encountered in the game. Its too hard to put into words, but the way it turns in conjunction with how you and your camera do is a nightmare. So do your best to memorize the areas of play so you wont need to rely on it too much.
The sound part of things is much like the core gameplay and graphics; its overly simple, its fun, its childish and it makes the violence even more mouth watering! The menu music and layout will gather a chuckle or two the first time you boot the game up- its all a little too happy and looks like something you would see on the Disney channel on a Saturday morning. Plus the knife wielding, crazy looking brown teddy of course.
The game doesn’t have any real voice actors, other than the narrator, who gives each mission a semi-story and justifies what your about to do in the most child-friendly and sleep-inducing voice imaginable. Other than him though, all the bears and animals have their own high-pitched squeaks and squeals, and it suiting to the whole shebang of child-friendly mindless violence and adult humour. Never thought I would actually get to say that!
Are you a gamer who wants quality over quantity? Do you want a game that lets you express your fantasies of killing teddy bears with Katanas and big Machetes? Then Naughty Bear is the game for you.
Actually, that comment about Quality over Quantity may not be the best example. In all honesty, Naughty Bear isn’t very ‘Quality’. Its more or less just deserves your attention for how awesome, unique and cool it is. No other game lets you do the things you can do in this game, and no other game since Conker has made violence look so fun and childish. But lets get one thing clear; this is not a kids game. It may look, feel and sound like one, but its far from it and the people who will get their moneys worth of kicks from this little gem are those who can get a laugh out of kiddy ultra-violence and those with a good sense of humour.
Naughty Bear is a great example that a game doesn’t have to be epic to be awesome. Which it is, in every sense of the word; stalking, killing and making insane a slew of helpless teddy bears could only be this fun in this day and age where such actions in a childish video game are looked down upon. To say the least, this game isn’t for everyone, but those of you who enjoy a simple yet fun game with a ton of violence and adult humour, do yourself a favour and look into this one.
AAG SCORE: 8.4/10
+ Great sense of humour mixed with ultra-violence
+ Wonderfully childish graphics and sound - emphasizes violence
+ Surprisingly good and thoughtful AI
- Mini map makes exploring terribly frustrating
- Painstakingly repetitive at times
- A few graphical issues that bring down the experience
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott