I was looking forward to getting my hands on Naughty Bear (I mean the game before someone suggests I’m referring to same sort of sex toy). The trailers were humorous, the premise sounded fun and fairly original. Unfortunately I’ve been here before with Fairytale Fights and that didn’t end too well.
The story starts with the bears on the island throwing a birthday party which Naughty Bear has not been invited to. Personally I’ve never cared too much if I get an invite or not but, according to my little sister, it’s the worst thing in the world. Naughty Bear is more on my sister’s wavelength. He wants revenge. Your task is to kill all the bears on the island and make sure the main culprit doesn’t escape. Later chapters follow a similar theme, seeing you take on alien, zombie, military and robot bears.
There are numerous ways to kill the bears; these include laying traps, sabotaging various items, shooting them, or scaring the bears so much they commit suicide. If you’re really struggling for a way to kill them you can simply beat them to a pulp. The bears can also escape, either by car or by boat. You can sabotage the vehicles to slow them down before killing them with a car door or on the dock floor.
At the start of the level you can select which bear you wish to be. You only have one choice at the start but more are unlocked as you play the game. Each bear has its own attributes with varying levels of speed, strength, accuracy and life. Sometimes they have extra abilities like ninja bear; he can run without being heard by other bears. Picking the correct bear can really help with some levels, for example: the zombie bear is very slow and on certain levels this puts you at a disadvantage.
In each level you rack up naughty points based on how quickly you can string kills together. Your points can also be increased by using as many kill methods as possible, by smashing everything in sight or by completing the sub mission. The sub missions usually consist of throwing varying amounts of an item in to a fire or toilet. If you fail a level you lose 70% of the points you earned while playing the level. As you earn points you receive cups (bronze, silver, gold or platinum) based on how many points you have earned. You’ll need to earn the higher valued cups in order to unlock all the levels and bears. One annoyance is that the game doesn’t tell you how many points you need to obtain each cup.
Some of you are probably thinking that this sounds like a lot of fun; what can possibly go wrong? Here comes the biggest problem with Naughty Bear: it’s a great idea but badly executed. The developers must either have run out of ideas, time or money. There are 7 chapters which are all set on the same small island; each of these is broken into 3 or 4 small zones. The order of these can vary and sometimes a zone may receive a few cosmetic changes but these changes just aren’t enough. There are only so many times you can sabotage the same car, phone or electrical box.
Each chapter begins with a small section of narrative telling you why Naughty Bear wants to kill everyone. These are a bit like a 3 year olds TV programme but obviously with more violence. In fact, I think if they had replaced the bears with Teletubbies I’d probably have enjoyed the game more and bashed their heads in for a long time. After the second section of narrative I was already so sick of the voice over that I started muting the TV.
To stretch the game out you can unlock 4 variations of each level, although there are 7 possible types. These include, speed run, invisible, killer, untouchable, top hat, insanity and friendly. Each of these requires a certain number of bronze, silver or gold cups to be earned in order to gain access. Most of the variations are fairly obvious, speed run gives a set time to complete the level. In invisible you can only be “seen” 4 times or less, although I’m not sure what counts as being seen in the game as there seems to be a lack of consistency. Killer is basically the main level played again but you can’t allow any bear to escape and every bear must be killed. Untouchable is where you can’t take any damage, except from your own traps. In friendly you can’t hit any bear, killing through traps and any other method is fine though. In insanity you have to scare every bear until they go insane and finally top hat challenges are just a harder version of the original level. The problem is that each variation is essentially the original level with a few options removed. Untouchable and invisible are probably the best variations as they do challenge you and help you improve. Unfortunately the weapons and traps remain the same through the levels, some variation on landscape and weapons would really have helped.
When it comes to Naughty Bear’s AI I simply can’t tell if the bears are meant to be stupid or if the AI is just poor. The bears’ paths change a bit but as the zones are so small it’s hard to tell if they’re preset or not. They barricade themselves into rooms and call for reinforcements from either the police or military but you can climb through the windows and the reinforcements are just re skinned bears with guns.
There is online multiplayer available if you can actually find someone online to compete against. One very strange thing with the multiplayer is that they’ve thrown in loads of new pickups which don’t appear anywhere else in the game. You have no idea what you use each of them for and the in game “manual” doesn’t give any clues either. The worst of the online modes is the golden Uzi. Essential you are all placed in one zone with one golden Uzi. The problem is that once someone had picked it up is almost impossible to kill them or get it off them.
All of these problems wouldn’t be too bad if the game itself didn’t have so many technical issues. If you fail a mission you have to go through the whole loading process for the level again if you want to keep your naughty points. The load times are far from great, they’re not on a Modnation Racers level but they get pretty close. The difference here though is that Naughty Bear is neither a great game nor great to look at.
Yes I could tell the game was in HD but it felt more like a PS2 game that had been upscaled. The pop-in at the start of a zone can be horrible at times. I can usually run a fair bit before any of the foliage appears. Once the zone is loaded there are no pop-in problems but get yourself near a wall or in a room and the camera can be all over the place. You can control it with the left stick but even that can become impossible. This is at its worst just after a kill as the camera angle moves to show the kill. It seems to be a bit pot luck where the camera resets to.
- Great idea
- Kills are entertaining for a time
- Some of the level variations can be a good challenge
- Tedious and lacks variety
- Erratic camera angles
- Poor graphics
- Slow load times
- Poor multiplayer modes
Naughty Bear was a great idea that was never full developed. After about an hour of play you’ve probably seen just about all there is to see. If the variety was there or the price was that of download title then you could probably overlook some of the technical faults. In the end its biggest crime is that it just isn’t fun to play.