I think if we were to sit down and watch the cartoons we watched as a kid, we would see that violence was a common bedfellow with the comedy of the likes of Wile E. Coyote and so forth. This really doesn’t mean those cartoons were bad and they created violent children; we were just enlightened by the comical chase. The game Naughty Bear takes this idea and makes it into a modern-day game that feels very reminiscent of those Saturday cartoons ... with a tad bit more emphasis on the violent atmosphere.
Naughty Bear is presented much like a classic cartoon in which the show is narrated by an upbeat modern TV host; however, he can definitely lead Naughty in the wrong direction. The game takes on episodes, and in each episode, the local bears on Paradise Island tend to live their lives without involving Naughty. This then leads to the narrator pushing Naughty to seek revenge on a different bear in each episode. I can’t help but think that Naughty would be a nice bear if he didn’t have that narrator leading him forward.
In Naughty Bear, you sneak around and find different ways to kill the local bears. The game is presented much like an arcade game as opposed to an action adventure, so you spend many times replaying episodes to improve your score and your kills. Naughty Bear allows many different options and weapons, allowing you different approaches for different kills — which is encouraged so you can get higher scores instead of focusing on just the same kill over and over. The goal is not to just run around like a serial killer and stab bears, but it is to gain the highest points. To do so, you want to focus on scaring the bears or sabotaging their personal surroundings so you can sneak up on them and kill them with the element of surprise. There are different modes for certain episodes that may have you focus solely on making them go insane, killing them all without using weapons, or acting like a ninja and killing them all without them seeing you do so.
Naughty is easy to control. It follows the simple standard of most common games, and pop-up commands are displayed around the environment, so it is never an issue to remember what buttons accomplish what. The camera also is controlled by the second thumbstick but can become a bit bothersome. This is where I feel the game needed more focus. Inside areas become tight, and the camera is hard to control; kills and attacks inside a building can sometimes be blocked by an outer wall. It would have been nice to have seen a tighter camera or a fixed camera that followed Naughty inside the buildings.
Weapon and inventory is easy to use. Naughty can carry one weapon at a time and also one other item, such as one the objects that need to be destroyed or a trap that can be set for the bears. You will want to use many different weapons for different kills, not only for higher scores, but to see Naughty go all kick-ass on another bear. These kills can become quite comical with fluffy bears.
There is a lot of replay value in Naughty Bear. There are many costumes to unlock, which can lead to higher chances of invisibility or a suit that allows more strength. This can help you achieve quicker kill times and higher scores to beat previous ones.
Another thing worth mentioning is the other bears’ AI. They are very responsive and aware of their surroundings; bears can see the fear on another bear’s face and act accordingly. They may try to get in a car and drive off to get help. They may call to get help or get a weapon to attack you. For such a basic game, the AI is very impressive if you ask me, and I did found it challenging to work my way through and kill all of them. There also are different versions of the bears that you may encounter, such as ninja bears or zombie bears.
The graphics are really nothing to write home about, but it does give you that feeling of it being a Saturday morning cartoon. The game is very bright and colorful, which really enhances the humor behind the violence. It’s like getting to watch the Care Bears the way we always wanted to. Textures load in quickly, and the character animations look smooth and fluid. Again it looks like an early generation game, but it is still pleasing to watch and fits the world of Naughty very well. There is nothing more than grunts and screams from the bears — screams aplenty. The game is narrated by a person who encourages your kills, with a voice of great enthusiasm. Some people may find this a little over the top, but I find it really adds to the comical affect as you slice and dice the locals.
Naughty Bear may seem a bit repetitious, but the point of the game is very similar to that of an arcade. It’s not about story and character development but more so focuses on replaying levels to beat your high score or friends’ scores on the leader boards. By achieving the highest scores, you can receive more trophies and unlockable costumes and levels. If you can accept this and enjoy the ruthless mayhem, I think you can appreciate the title, even if it’s just for the over-the-top cartoon violence.
Naughty Bear is a great game to just pick up and play — especially if you don’t want to be tied down to story. Most missions run anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Naughty Bear is not excellent, and other reviews have really pushed it down, but I think it deserves another chance under a different light, because it is very original and appealing. If this game was given another chance for a sequel, it could really be amazing. Full retail may not be worth the buy, but give Naughty Bear a try…or he will kill you.
Check out TreavorClark's video review at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGxot2SswWU&feature=channel_video_title.