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Posted by drew10 on Jun 25, 2010
Review – Naughty Bear – 505 Games – 360/PS3

Review – Naughty Bear – 505 Games – 360/PS3

Naughty But Nice!

If you go down to the woods today you better go tooled up because Naughty Bear is there and he is pissed off. 505 Games latest offering is a subtle blend of cute and cuddly and sharp and pointy.

Created by Canadian developers Artificial Mind And Movement, you play title character Naughty Bear who lives on Perfection Island with all the other bears. It is Daddles bear birthday and Naughty hasn’t been invited but he decides he would like to go and has even made a present for Daddles. When Naughty arrives Chubby and Giggles laugh at him and send him home. Upset, Naughty decides to extract his revenge on the rest of the bears. It may be a simple premise in terms of storyline but the multitude of ways with which you can extract your revenge are simply mind-boggling.

The idea is to rack up Naughty Points by creating mischief around Perfection Island and scaring the stuffing out of, or killing the other bears. Naughty Points can be earned in a variety of ways from sabotaging items around the Island to leaving traps for the other bears to walk into or simply killing the bears outright.

Scaring bears is by far and away the most effective way of racking up those points and this can be achieved in numerous and ingenious ways. Leave a bear stuck in a trap, or attack a bear and leave him alive long enough to wander around injured for the others to see is a sure way to spread fear among the community. Sabotaging items is another, when bears find their items sabotaged they will attempt to repair them leaving them open to attack and a right good scaring or assassination. Each sabotaged item has its own unique death sequence associated with it. Better still, if you give the bears a enough of a scaring instead of killing them right away they will go insane, scare an insane bear and he will commit suicide.

The bears on Perfection Island are not stupid and become suspicious if they see or hear you. Some will run, others will attack and some even barricade themselves into rooms by putting furniture across the doorways. There are a few ways for bears to escape the island altogether so sabotaging or destroying the boats and cars becomes an essential tactic. If a bear gets away it is game over. Bears can also call for help which will send in the ‘Fuzz’, these police bears are bigger, stronger and have guns. Scaring or killing these is difficult but also reaps huge Naughty Point rewards. The Fuzz are not the only adversary you encounter though, various other bears including Ninja’s and Zombies will make unwelcome appearances and if you are lucky you may even get a glimpse of the very rare Uni-bear. When a bear goes to make an escape or call for help you will be informed by a small picture showing what they are doing appearing in the top corner of the screen, you then have a limited time to get there and stop them.

Playing Naughty Bear is a joy with the enemy AI being one of the highlights of the game and making tactical play essential. Each bear will react differently to any given situation adding to the depth the game has to offer. The camera and controls sometimes get a little confused especially when an action happens on the entrance to a room be it a door or window. On more than one occasion I have found myself stuck by a window or doorway without being able to see what was going on or performing a kill on a bear stuck in a trap through a closed-door. This is pretty poor considering that you would think placing traps by doors was one of the main tactics. I also think the map could have done with some enhancement as navigating around the island can be a little confusing especially as it all looks remarkably similar.

Some of the levels are split into three sections with each harder than the one before and this can be quite frustrating as failing on the last section will see you back all the way to the first.

Graphically, Naughty Bear is pretty much what you may expect, with bright, colourful levels conveying a real cutesy feel. The bears all look like, well, bears but their animation is excellent and most of the time pretty hilarious. Everything looks like it could have been set in a variety of children’s TV shows although an extra touch of next-gen polish could have been added perhaps. That said, the presentation is top-notch throughout with brilliantly styled menus looking like they have been cut from felt.

The sound design is a superb mixture of cute-sounding music blended seamlessly with dark off-key overtones. The bears all make sickeningly cute noises for their voices except Naughty of course who has a nasty roar. And the whole game is voiced by a suitably condescending sounding man who leads Naughty through the game and positively encourages his antics. His voice is almost perfect for a kids TV presenter although he could have laid it on even more thick and sickly for some extra authenticity.

Online games can also be found in Naughty Bear with game modes such as Cake Walk, Jelly Wars, Assault, and Golden Oozy which are re-workings of many of the traditional multi-player offerings. A nice touch though is that NPB’s (Non-player bears, I just made that up!) can either hinder your progress or can be recruited to help you depending on your actions. This is an excellent feature and one that really stands out.

Overall Naughty Bear is a curious title that offers gamers a style of play not seen since the days Spy Vs Spy. The gameplay mechanic is superb as is the AI and it really offers something of an alternative which in today’s market should not be underestimated. Aside from the odd camera issue it is a fun romp with loads of brilliant ways of dispatching your foes although despite this I am unsure as to how much of a replay factor it really has. Still, if you like over-the-top cartoon violence and inventive gameplay then its time to get fluffed!


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