Naughty Bear Xbox 360 Review

July 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher – 505 Games – Developer – Artificial Mind and Movement – Genre – Action – Players – 1-64 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3

With its teddy bears, children’s TV-alike presenter, and cheery tunes, Naughty Bear is a game that looks really innocent on the surface, although scratch away it’s childish veneer, and underneath is a game that is definitely not aimed at the little ones. This is a game about a murderous teddy, and none of the other bears are safe from being brutally beaten down as he gains his revenge for not being invited to a birthday party. An overreaction if I ever saw one.

The story premise is simple and, for those who just wish to get on with the teddy bear slaughtering itself, it’s never intrusive. As the bears themselves only mumble, narration is left to an over the top voiceover man whom, amusingly, sounds like he is talking to preschool children. It’s a nice, humorous idea and the game itself is rather entertaining, as well. At least in occasional short bursts, that is.

The violence is really quite brutal for a game with a 12 rating – it doesn’t have the blood or the people, but it has the vicious strikes, and teddies shooting themselves in the heads. Don’t get me wrong; Naughty Bear isn’t as grim as, say, Rockstar’s Manhunt, as there’s black humour in most of the executions. Baseball bat strikes look nasty, for example, although Naughty beats his friendly foes down to the ground and then proceeds to flatten their heads, which, being the teddy-on-teddy violence that it is, is quite amusing. Naughty can also stab his foes, and use various sections of the environment to burn, electrocute and ram bears heads into.

There's a huge number of costumes to unlock, each with their own strengths and weaknesses in regards to Naughty's stats.

If you want to score a lot of points, the game does have a brain, even though it’s only half of one. You’ll soon realise that keeping the teddies alive (in order to make them insane) or killing them in front of lots of witnesses is the way to go, moving quickly to keep the multiplier high. Forcing the bears to tip over the edge into insanity (incessantly harassing them does the trick) is something you’ll be looking to do, in which scaring them with a growl from Naughty will then result in them using their weapons to commit suicide: clubbing themselves repeatedly in the noggin, stabbing themselves in the midriff and so on. Admittedly, I did find it really quite amusing, but the game does begin to wear as thin as a teddy that has started to lose his stuffing.

The combat itself is extremely simplistic, with one attack button and one to avoid enemy strikes. Ultra kills also come available when bears are injured enough, in which pressing a button will bring about a very painful death: these are available for every single weapon and there’s also some brutal execution moves which can be used on bears that are fixing an object that you have sabotaged. Sadly, this simplicity comes with its own problems: the lack of a lock-on button proves to be frustrating at times, and you’ll find yourself hitting air, rather than your enemies, because of it. True, the game is fun to begin with, but, for me, playing it soon became a tiresome task – a chore even.

Naughty Bear isn’t just about mindless killing, as levels come with their own tasks, although you are basically repeating the same thing over and over again in the same limited environments over and over again.  I can’t help but feel that, because of this, this would have been better suited to a downloadable title as opposed to a full price boxed released.

The structure has you scoring points in order to win trophies that unlock new stages. Bettering yourself to win a shinier trophy is something that will have a certain player coming back.

Furthermore the game lacks polish in certain areas. Visually, all the bears are pleasingly detailed and wonderfully animated, although the environments are as basic  and as repetitive as they come (they’re childish, too, but where’s the imagination?) Also, the game has crashed numerous times whilst I was playing it and getting into any of the online modes has been a fruitless task, so much so that I’m not convinced that such a mode actually exists in this game at all. Perhaps a future patch will prove me wrong. Ah, well, at least the online scoreboards work, and this is one of the things that, for those who don’t grow tired of the game beforehand, will add longevity to it.

For me, Naughty Bear is a major disappointment that could have been so much more. The idea was certainly a promising one, although sadly all the bear murdering becomes overly repetitive after awhile, and it’s too simplistic and lacking in important areas to be anything else other than a curiosity rental. The success of the game may bring about a superior sequel, although this first one is nothing more than some rather funny black humour wrapped around a rather mediocre game.