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.
Naughty Bear has seven missions (!!!), which are divided into four further sub-missions with different stipulations attached - "Complete the level without being hit", "Complete the level without being seen", etc. The game also boasts a multiplayer component which we'd love to check out but is either broken or completely devoid of players. We'll come back to the multiplayer in a future article if we can get to check it out.
Naughty Bear's kind of genius. No, we really mean it. It's not generated hype for nothing. The released trailers have been nothing short of brilliant, and that same humour carries through into the game. With some excellent narration, and some pretty zany set-ups, Naughty Bear will definitely raise a smile from even the most hard-faced gamers. It's all a bit immature and silly, but it's fun. Naughty Bear's gameplay is also rather clever. It just doesn't feel stream-lined enough. Chaining acts of naughtiness in order to send bears insane is a cool concept, but the game could do with more refinement and more communication. It takes a while to understand how to even play the game, let alone play it well.
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. WTF?
For all the bad we're about to detail in the next segment, there's an addictive quality to Naughty Bear that kept us replaying. Perhaps it's the progressive unlocks, or the in-game leaderboards, but there's definitely something a little bit brilliant about Naughty Bear. Honestly, its gameplay doesn't really work, but there's the hint of great idea here. Scoring naughty points is genuinely fun, and it tempts you back in to do better multiple times. If you can work out how to improve your score, that is.
At times, Naughty Bear just doesn't work. It's bad enough that it makes no attempt to explain its concepts, but it's even worse that once you get the hang of them, they're inconsistent at best. After a relatively short tutorial, you'll have a grasp of Naughty Bear's controls and ideas, but no real clue as to how best to play the game. This comes as you trial and error your way through the campaign, but its irritating trying to play a game that's unclear about what it wants from the player. The game's revolves around scoring points. For every action you complete in Naughty Bear, you'll score points. Repeating actions multiple times means the action becomes less effective. So you could go around bashing everyone with an axe, but eventually you'd earn no points for it. To maximise your points therefore, you need to vary your actions. The whole objective is traumatising the various other bears in the world. For example: you might choose to hide in a locker and pop-out shouting "Boo!" at the other bears in the room. This will scare (or anger) the bears giving you an advantage. You then might choose to kill one of the bears in cold blood. As other bears watch this act, they may be driven insane, at which point you can terrorise them further and cause them to commit suicide. All the time you'll be increasing your combo metre and raking in Naughty Points. The thing is, as brilliant as it sounds, it doesn't really work very well. There's never any indication of when you're doing well, the NPC's are hard to manipulate because their AI is so unpredictable, and everything seems to depend on chance. After hours with the game, we never really felt like we had a good understanding of how to approach the levels, and that's a fundamental problem with the game. Naughty Bear wants you to play in a variety of ways, but it never really explains the best practices of these play-styles at all. You'll want to end up running around hitting people because that works, but you're only going to earn bronze medals this way, and you need to do better to unlock more levels.
Aside from not looking very good, Naughty Bear is laboured by a string of technical issues that make it something of a nightmare to play. The camera has a mind of its own, swinging into directions you just don't want it to. Likewise the controls are just plain fiddly. You need to wait for prompts to carry out actions, but they constantly flash on and off, leaving your progress at the mercy of the game. The framerate's equally bad, jittering to a halt as the screen gets busy. The PS3 should not be having trouble running PS2-level visuals. But somehow Naughty Bear makes that the case.
Without any kind of lock-on, Naughty Bear's melee attacks just feel loose, awkward and unresponsive. Seeing as one of the key weapons in Naughty Bear's arsenal is his ability to throw blunt and sharp weapons in the enemies' direction, this should feel better. We won't even get started on the guns...
There's a part of us that wants to tell you Naughty Bear is amazing. The unique, charming concept of the scorned anti-hero, Naughty Bear, is one that's drawn everybody in. Sadly its ideas are under-developed and, at times, just down-right confusing. There's a glint of an amazing idea hidden beneath the fluff of Naughty Bear's rough exterior, but it just doesn't quite fall together in a cohesive manner.