Review: Naughty Bear

Sure, Naughty Bear is a little rough around the edges. The controls are too stiff, and the framerate is a bit sluggish. There isn't much content to play with, but as a $10 downloadable game, Naughty Bear makes for an interesting diversion.

Wait ... this is a retail game? And you have to pay $50 for it? Unfortunately, in spite of a few good ideas, Naughty Bear is too sloppily executed, and too shallow to recommend -- especially as a "full" retail experience.
%Gallery-79926% Naughty Bear definitely makes a good first impression. I found A2M's cute-gone-wrong approach to design a refreshing change of pace from the testosterone-filled shooters we're inundated with. (It also helps that I'm a huge fan of Conker's Bad Fur Day.) The curiously blood-thirsty narrator sets the right tone for the game, and somehow makes Naughty's outrageously violent outbursts seem completely justified.

The following tutorial teaches the key mechanics: use the environment to your advantage, and try to scare bears instead of murdering them. Murdering a bear only gets you points once -- but scaring them repeatedly maximizes your multiplier. In attempting a high score, you'll have to utilize every trick available to you: setting up bear traps, sabotaging phone lines, destroying escape vehicles, hiding in closets, etc.

The tutorial says there are hundreds of ways of getting points, but it soon becomes clear that the "hundreds" ways of getting points are, in execution, closer to a dozen. Sure, a sticky mine is different from a bear trap, but functionally, they serve the same purpose. The variety of melee weapons offer little more than cosmetic change -- and with combat discouraged in the game, you'll quickly stop resorting to that option. Sabotage works the exact same way, no matter what you tinker with -- whether it's a phone, a car, a disco turntable, a toilet -- it serves the same function: to distract a bear long enough for you to sneak up behind him.


The modes offered only further highlight how very little variety there is. In one mode, you have to kill every bear. In another mode, you have to make every bear go "insane," by maximizing their terror levels. However, I didn't find my style of play to change at all during these challenge modes. Barring a few genuinely challenging missions (such as the one where you cannot get damaged at all), each level in Naughty Bear feels like a carbon copy of the one before it.

By the time you reach a cumulative score of 10 or 20 million points, you'll probably get tired of the experience. (You unlock a new costume with 100 million points!) The odd few of you may want to try to climb the leader boards, but getting a high score in Naughty Bear isn't so much a question of tactics -- it's a question of patience, and how much you're willing to tolerate repeating the same monotonous actions. There are also a few multiplayer modes to try out (although they're plagued with the same core problems as the main game).

In many ways, Naughty Bear is similar to the PSN game PAIN, another repetitive, humor-driven arcade title. But, PAIN evolved into a DLC "platform," exploring new gameplay ideas (driven by fan feedback) with new expansions every few months. Naughty Bear, on the other hand, seems destined for the GameStop bargain bin.

This review is based on the Xbox 360 retail version of Naughty Bear provided by 505 Games.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.