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Naughty Bear Review

As the titular character, Naughty Bear, it is your job to live up to your namesake. Naughty Bear is about causing chaos and scaring the crap out of as many giant bears as possible. Surprisingly, the game hasn’t caught the attention of the news media with its colorful, childlike storybook demeanor that harbors the mind of a serial killer. Unfortunately for gamers, no one thought to protest the release of Naughty Bear to the masses.

The graphics are abysmal from both a technical and artistic perspective. Every bear looks like a man in a bear mascot costume, each with brightly colored furs and, depending on the situation, ninja robes or military camouflage. This all looks adorable even when Naughty is de-fluffing everything around him. Once the joke wears off, it becomes painfully apparent that the game is simply a modified version of the PS2 game Manhunt, except Manhunt was worth fifty dollars. The game stutters and slows down erratically which, apart from looking wretched, negatively affects how you sneak up behind enemies and accomplish objectives. The world is supposed to be a colorful mix of cartoony silliness and over-the-top violence. The result is a muddled, low-res, blocky mess in which every level looks the same. The camera swivels awkwardly when indoors and blocks almost your entire view of the action. Characters clip through doors and walls constantly while the frame rate dips sharply for no reason.

Naughty Bear does shine in the sound department. The music changes tempo depending on what is happening on screen, so cheerful moments are upbeat while gruesome moments startling and jarring. The narrator succeeds at telling a child’s fairytale while maintaining an air of perversion and dread that somehow works in both contexts. Even the bears’ minimal form of language is a comical fit that conveys urgency and terror.

In a genre where tactical planning and pin-point execution are king, Naughty Bear punishes players for spending too much time setting traps and making vain attempts at using stealth to maneuver throughout the game world.  At no point in the game do you ever feel like you have total control over Naughty. You are simply hitting buttons hoping he will do something randomly beneficial. Forget trying to plan a stealthy siege. Every scenario ends in a button jamming contest to slice or bludgeon the other bears to death. They can seemingly spot you through walls and alerting one bear sets off a powder keg of annoying consequences and insanity. If a bear discovers you he will either find a weapon and try to kill you himself or run to a group of other bears and plan an attack/escape. Even more frustrating is running after a bear and attacking at the same time. You will either miss completely, initiating an unintentional combo which makes you stand still, or the bear being chased will lead you through town alerting everyone you run past.

There are only seven levels in the game, but gaining access into the next story portion of a level requires completing challenges which include finishing a level without taking damage or without inflicting damage onto others. These challenges make an uncomfortable gaming experience even less enjoyable and magnify the game’s broken scare system that never works the way you want it to work. The main objective comes in the form of racking up a high score based on how “naughty” you can be by killing, scaring and destroying as much as you possibly can. The more efficient your mayhem the higher the point multiplier scales. If signed into PSN, you can upload your scores onto the online leaderboard and compare scores with friends, however if you were any kind of friend you would warn them against playing Naughty Bear.

The point system is reminiscent of Madworld, a game released on the Wii over a year ago that successfully blended wonton carnage with bonus multipliers in a way that was a blast to play. Naughty Bear misses that target considerably and offers virtually no redeeming qualities. Maybe more development time, technical polish and a revamped control scheme could have saved a somewhat novel idea for a game, but as a retail disc release on the PS3, Naughty Bear is an insult at fifty dollars.  



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