Game Review: Naughty Bear
Release: June 29, 2010
Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: A2M (Artificial Mind and Movement)
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Players: 1 (2-4 online)
ESRB Rating: Teen (Violence)
“Oh, Naughty. Poor Naughty. The other bears of Perfection Island decided to throw a birthday party for one of the bears and ‘forgot’ to invite you? For shame. Time for some revenge. Go grab that machete, axe, or pistol, and let’s go give them what for!” At least that’s the VERY basic premise of the game. Which is to say that the game has absolutely no other premise. There’s no underlying plot twist. Nothing else to do during the episodes. Zilch. Perhaps you speak Spanish? Then the operative word would be NADA. The game sounds incredibly simple. Which it is. You might be thinking to yourself: ‘Hey, this would be a game my kids can play.’ I pray to all that is holy that you do not allow your child anywhere near this heaping pile of you know what. With that said, let’s get started.
There are 7 ‘episodes’ that you have the pleasure of playing through, each of which is tied to challenges (e.g.: Killer, Speed, Insanity, etc) that you can complete as well in order to unlock more costumes which grant upgraded abilities, weapons, or health. In each episode, you start in Naughty’s house on Perfection Island and are disturbed abruptly by ruckus coming from an event in which you are either uninvited, plotted against, or being made fun of in some manner, giving Naughty purpose to shed some blood, err, I mean stuffing (there’s no blood in the game, obviously). Each episode has a minimum of 3 ‘zones’ to progress through (and no backtracking, you completionists, so maximize your points before moving on). I say minimum because I completed two episodes and a few challenges a few times trying to get trophies before my brain turned to mush. May you fair better, brave souls.
In the challenges, you are given a set of parameters (Kill all bears, drive all bears insane, etc) and you have to fulfilled said objectives to complete the challenge. Not really too different from the actual episode, but not so exactly like it. Actually, I found the challenges, well, challenging, as you have to be specific in how you go about scaring/injuring the bears. Of course, the challenges have to be unlocked by doing well in the episodes, which can be simple enough as long as you understand how to accumulate ‘Naughty Points’.
Basically, each time to sabotage or destroy something (I recommend sabotage, by the way) you start building a multiplier which increases when you perform naughty acts in succession. If you continue doing the same things, you get less points, so variety is the spice of life. Want to trap one in a bear trap and Super Scare them (RT when they are trapped), go for it. You can also outright kill them by hitting LT (performs an Ultra Kill move), but you lose your chance at many more Naughty Points by doing that. Doing said acts in public where more bears can see the humiliation nets you even more Naughty Points, so make a public spectacle of everything.
Keep in mind that I really wanted Naughty Bear to be good. It’s just not. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t pros. One of the very few pros about the game is the fact that the manual is built into the menu, so if you have no clue how to do something or maybe how a particular challenge works, then the instructions are right there. The only other ‘pro’ (if you can call it that) is that this is extremely easy to pick up and put down. You don’t really need to ‘get into a groove’ like you do with story-heavy RPG’s or online MP titles. This is one of the few retail titles that fall into this category. Which leads me to the areas of improvement.
Where CAN’T Naughty Bear improve? The graphics are on par with launch-day PS2 titles. The camera movement is downright putrid. If the original Xbox had an arcade, this would be a great title for that. The only reason I can fathom why a DVD was wasted for this was because of the collectibles across 5 parts of 7 episodes. But in order to get all of the collectibles, you’ll have to numb your mind by grinding through each episode and challenge over and over to get the hundreds of millions of Naughty Points needed. The controls aren’t horrible, but that’s more because the story is so simple that the control scheme had to be simple as well.
Patrick’s Final Say: Naughty Bear is the perfect example of a great idea somehow being overwhelmingly underdeveloped and then, miraculously, published and sold on retail shelves. Now I’m as accepting and patient as the next gamer (actually, probably more so), but I cannot recommend Naughty Bear for a rent, much less a purchase. Maybe when it hits the bargain bin at $7.99, I could say give it a whirl, but by then, the next three-dozen better titles will have hit and this will be an afterthought.