Naughty Bear

Canadian developer Artificial Mind and Movement has made some pretty cutesy games over the years, from Disney movie games, to multiple High School Musical titles. And at first glance, the developer’s newest title, Naughty Bear, appears to be following in the same happy, child-friendly footsteps. But after playing the game for a few minutes, and getting to know the lovable stuffed-bears that you’ll be interacting with, you’ll see how different of a gaming experience Naughty Bear really is……….

505 Games U.S. and developer Artificial Mind and Movement (A2M) today announced that comic mischief video game Naughty Bear is now available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game allows players to take on the role of the infamous Naughty Bear, who is driven to seek retribution after his fellow bears snub him one too many times. After the other bears exclude him from Daddles’ big birthday party, Naughty Bear finally snaps and slashes a grisly path of revenge and destruction across the Island of Perfection.

Just because blood and gore are replaced with stuffed animal innards, doesn’t make it any less vicious. Don’t be fooled by their cuddly, teddy bear demeanor; Naughty Bear is incredibly violent — I even felt a pang of guilt and uncomfortable remorse after the massacre I inflicted on innocent townsfolk in the first mission. It helps that Naughty Bear’s cute and cuddly victims either stay completely intact or disintegrate, no matter how you murder them; you can’t prance around the game’s setting, the Island of Perfection, with a decapitated head in tow. And I’m not kidding about the cute factor — with teddy names like “Daddles,” and gentle mumbling voices, you may feel disgusted while crushing their heads flat with a car door. Or, you’ll completely adore it.

Waging psychological warfare against all things cute and fluffy, as Naughty Bear, players engage in sadistic scuffles on all that crosses their path. Using a hilarious array of weapons, interactive objects and endless scare tactics, gamers create chaos on the Island of Perfection to earn Naughty Points as they inflict physical and psychological harm on Naughty Bear’s numerous enemies. This all-new scare-based points system allows players to win the most rewards for being truly deviant and maniacal. As the ill-fated bears become more difficult to harass and terrorize as the game progresses, the variety of scare-based attacks allow for a completely new experience each time players pick up a controller.

Naughty Bear features more than 28 single player levels to unlock as well as competitive online multiplayer modes filled with unique characteristics and weaponry encountered at every stage. Players battle an endless barrage of bears recruited to wage war against Naughty, including Soldier Bears, Ninja Bears, Robo Bears and even an Alien Bear invasion. As they scour the Island of Perfection to unleash their naughtiness, players can collect all the hidden party items locked away by the other bears to win wearable items and unlock special Achievements and Trophies.

Unfortunately, Naughty Bear’s campaign feels small — the game has just seven episodes, each containing five chapters. And the four locations you terrorize throughout the campaign offer little diversity. The narrative sections are short and the bulk of each episode is comprised of various challenge missions.

But regardless of the mission, a teddy bear always dies. I feel disgraceful when I scare a bear into committing suicide — it’s not even that difficult, just time consuming compared to your other bear-killing alternatives. The suicide route gives you plenty of in-game points though, and that’s what matters most! All the missions are based on a point system; the more your actions vary, the easier it is to earn points.

Earning points for in-game trophies is the most addicting part of the game. Part of my obsession stems from seeing the Top Achiever’s handle and score appear above my character’s head in each episode I play. And in every zone, I had the strong desire to eliminate every bear in sight, also known as “total defluffication.” Oh, and it’s also nice that the trophies unlock extra missions and outfits that alter your stats.

My desire for points tended to piss me off more than it should have. Naughty Bear excludes save points within each episode — and I really wish that wasn’t the case. I’d slaughter every bear in a zone, cross the bridge to move onto the next zone, and die. Then, I’d have to start the episode all over again.

At least avoiding the game’s cops is easy: standing in a clump of trees automatically makes the law enforcement oblivious to your location. But if you saw the in-game camera in motion, you’d scream. It’s frustrating trying to maneuver around obstacles when the camera doesn’t zoom out far enough to let you see everyone in your immediate vicinity. And the red arrow that directs you towards more urgent problems is in a bad location. Instead of having it at the bottom of your feet, I would’ve rather seen it at the top-center of the screen. There were moments where a bear would call for help and I couldn’t interrupt him because the camera angle and arrow made it impossible to figure out where he was.

Naughty Bear’s probably the best PlayStation anti-hero since the God Of War himself, Kratos. The mis-understood plushy just wants to be everybody’s friend. But he’s constantly ignored by the other bears of Paradise Island, who’d rather laugh at him than invite him to groovy birthday bashes. Naturally, this all results in the scorned super-ted turning into some kind of bear-bashing murder machine. That’s where you come in.

Naughty Bear is, in many ways, an arcade game. It’s broken down into small environments where acts of naughtiness earn points. The whole game hinges on a combo meter, which increasingly rewards your actions based on those before it. We’ve been racking our brains for a comparative game to Naughty Bear, but nothing’s popping. In that sense it’s quite original. Naughtiness ranges from hitting bears with baseball bats, to tampering with a house’s fuse box, waiting for a bear to come and repair it, and shoving their face into the pulsating electricity. Efforts are rewarded with medals and badges, aswell as automatic entry into the game’s leaderboards.

I probably spent two hours trying to earn a gold trophy. And even though I didn’t need to kill everyone to beat this particular challenge mission, I wanted to. It’s awkwardly stress-relieving to take out all your frustrations on teddy bears. What intrigues me about Naughty Bear is the concept, but I don’t think it’s executed properly.

Progression. For a game such as Naughty Bear – which is divided into small segments – it’s nice to be achieving things all the time. Here you’ll be unlocking costumes, increasing your Naughtiness Rank, and unlocking new “levels” every time you complete something. Sadly, unlocking new levels is not as exciting as it should be. Good grief do they recycle here. There are basically seven levels, with different variations of each imposing new stipulations (such as staying unseen, and killing every bear). What’s worse, is that the base seven levels aren’t always set in new environments.

Among the HUD and camera problems, the game slows down occasionally during cut-scenes. The lack of different environments is particularly disheartening — I get the impression this would’ve completely succeeded as a downloadable title because my expectations for more content wouldn’t be there. Not to mention, multiplayer doesn’t work for me at all. Whenever I host a game or try to join one, I get kicked right before it starts.

Naughty Bear seems to be following in the footsteps of games like Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which appear kid-friendly in their presentation, but are anything-but in their gameplay. In addition to the 7-10 hour campaign, Naughty Bear will feature multiplayer as well as leader boards so you can see how horrifically naughty you are compared to the rest of the world. Its release date is set for June 29th, on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.


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