The surprisingly redundant world of elitist teddy bears.
Game development doesn’t get much more independent than this, and even calling this lifeless drivel the product of independent development seems like an insult to a broad category of games, so apologies for that. There’s no such thing as really coming down too hard on this game. It’s understandable that Artificial Mind & Movement was probably aiming for a bit of lighthearted fun on behalf of casual gamers and ‘humorous’ crowds, but having a game that’s not meant to be taken seriously doesn’t mean that those making it shouldn’t take its creation seriously. The quality of a comical game is just as important as that of Metal Gear Solid or Assassin’s Creed, and either Artificial Mind & Movement didn’t understand that or the fact simply went largely ignored.
But let’s start at the basics. Considering the silliness of the concept, not much thought was put into the plot of Naughty Bear. The creators keep it simple and more so aim at parodying a children’s theme. Naughty Bear is seedy looking teddy bear who becomes a castaway on Perfection Island. In spite of the permanent scowl threaded on his face, it seems he wants to be nice. Upon discovering he wasn’t invited to a party, Naughty Bear attends anyway in hopes of winning over party’s host with a present. Some of the other bears see Naughty and his gift, laugh at him and make him feel more humiliated and unwanted than he already does. So Naughty does what any school shooter or life-long psychotic loser would do: He goes and massacres the party. This leads into many efforts to get rid of Naughty Bear, forcing him to slaughter more and more throughout numerous episodes of a mundane British guy and a teddy bear’s mishaps.
It’s clear that the people making the game took it as seriously as the gamer is meant to take it. The hilariously bad-ass Kill Bill parody on the cover seems to be the closest this game gets to being above average. One of the first things you’ll notice in this game is how flimsy the controls are. The sensitivity is ridiculous. You move your analog stick and your character is ready to zip three feet across. Upon first play, however, this game gives off the illusions of being very enjoyable. You have a wide array of weapons, executions, strategies, traps and ways of scaring the other bears into suicide. You can even tamper with things in their houses, something that’s intended to draw them in so that you can kill them without having to fight them through the press of a single button button. Naughty Bear can appeal to two types of gamers in this sense: The strategical and the run-and-gunners. While it offers a mildly indepth manual on how to play it, the 41 paged book of possibilities lack an index. Smart thinking, developers.
And of course it all gets old after the second episode. The weapons hardly make interesting variations, the annoying British guy continues screaming out corny puns on your kills, the executions never show any real diversion and the stealth mechanic is completely, utterly broken. By going in the grass, you’re automatically undetected. The bear holds up a leaf in front of this face and he basically gets to move as loud or fast as he wants, because that leaf is a rough equivalent of a flashbang in Call of Duty as well as the invisibility cloak in Harry Potter. It’s simply amazing. If that’s not annoying enough, the game’s setting almost never changes. You’re on the same island at different times of day and the closest Naughty Bear gets to change is different types of bears, challenges (on the same levels you already beat, just with irritating stipulations) and a barely noticeable mixture of weapons that happen to come along. More aggravating are the near invincible army bears, who can take nearly 50 bullets from one of the most powerful weapons in the game (an Uzi) before finally dying. Well gee, okay.
The third level is a huge transition from the first and second levels, where you can basically walk around molliwhopping bears in the face with no real consequence and pull a win. The most grating part of Naughty Bear is not only its shortness, but its heavy reliance on points. You’re basically scoring your way through the game. Through building up points and completing missions so 70% of your score isn’t eaten, you’re securing your entry to the next level and heightening your rank, which is instrumental in progression through the game. Naughty Bear sucks because it assumes that you’re the casual, fun type of player who just wants to get in a game to rack up points rather than smoothly play it through and be done with it. I don’t want to sit around repeating missions over and over again, nor do I want to sit around repeating VARIATIONS of missions over and over again. It simply isn’t fun for me.
Naughty Bear has some cool, action-packed cutscenes at least, but the graphics aren’t good. There’s not much to note about the artwork neither. Naughty Bear basically looks like an enhanced Nintendo 64 title. The online multiplayer doesn’t hold much merit, unless you’re excited about holding the magic cupcake and shooting the golden uzi. Otherwise it, like the rest of the game, is stupid. The Narrator’s annoying nature makes him something tantamount to Russell Brand: Unbearable, talkative, not funny, at first convincing, then simply trite. The Narrator, like many of the game’s elements and Russell Brand, becomes annoying and overdone because of a lack of change. Naughty Bear could learn from some of the cinematic sequences of today’s games, even some mini games would’ve helped instead of the same gameplay with altered rules. There are many things the developer could’ve implemented to keep Naughty Bear young throughout its storyline, but forcing you to unlock pieces of the puzzle when you’ve already put a lot of it together is something that only -some- gamers are interested in, and that’s a very narrow crowd. Naughty Bear’s assumption that you’re -its- type of gamer is something that makes you either love it or leave it alone.
Honestly, one playthrough of a demo level would basically tells you everything the game has to offer and its obvious lack of beta testers (or perceptive ones). The executions don’t change and the game simply struggles through mass-slaughters to get more annoying, dull and extremely tedious. On the other hand the game has some great replay value through creating those altered versions of episodes you’ve already played through, but the fact that it forces you to play through them to finish the game is mostly what takes away their luster. Naughty Bear is basically what grind style gameplay is in MMORPGs, except you get no real rewards to show off to other players. I mean sure, you unlock some new bear costumes which you give you better attributes in your murderous endeavors, but the multiplayer is so dumb I’m sure few would be caught dead playing it. I would’ve at least hoped for some clever satire of movies through the use Naughty Bear himself but the plot proved as colorless as the more substantial elements of the game.
Naughty Bear is so naughty that only naughty kids should play it. It’d make a great substitute for the coal that Santa gives naughty children on Christmas. Naughty Bear is so naughty that it’s made our bad list this year, and that’s why this game is only worthy of a 4.5/10 for its lack of variation, annoying mode of progression and flimsy, glitchy gameplay.