Posted by Joshua Moris on Oct 14, 2012

Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise Review


Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Behaviour Interactive
Platforms: XBLA (reviewed), PSN
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Price: 1200 MSP – Here

Overview
Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is an action and adventure game that has no other alternative but to be strictly evil. Once the console has been turned on, only the matters of defluffing variety are your concern. Suicides, traps, and decapitations are all piled up under a E10+ rating. I guess that might make the game even more intriguing. Let’s dive in to see why Naughty Bear is just so naughty.

Story
All the bears planned a nice vacation at Paradise Island. Well, all but Naughty Bear were invited. However, that wasn’t stopping Naughty from joining in on the fun. And since all the other bears “forgot” to invite him, Naughty is going to have to enact vengeance in a very naughty way.

With the general theme of Naughty not being invited to the island, each chapter details the experience further by singling out a specific bear that did not invite Naughty on the trip. For instance, Goober is holding a costume party at the Bearmeinster mansion and did not care to invite Naughty. Since he wasn’t invited, Naughty should punish Goober by finding a costume and drag Goober into the woods. At this point Naughty does not need to carry through with the mission for Goober but will be required to advance further to other bears.

Gameplay
Teddy bears wielding weapons makes a recipe for a blissful day at Paradise Island. Well, that is if your name is Naughty. Here’s the game-plan: pick up a weapon and start bashing heads. That’s all you really need to know to get the game started. Let’s find a random items such as a rake, and then decide to swing it at a gardening bear – sounds legit. And if the other bears don’t like it, we kill them too. But this time we exchange our rake for a bottle of grape juice? Sounds like a plan to me.

Beyond the normal actions of swinging and exchanging weapons, Naughty can perform actions like scaring, blocking, running, and setting traps. Scaring can provide interesting effects to bears including suicides. Terrifying a bear to insanity takes some skill, but the possibility is attainable. I personally hardly use the blocking technique as some items like erm… guns will not be block by hands. Running becomes useful for tracking down scared bears and choking them from behind. Running also helps when attaining a secret level key that unlocks a special bear cave in each level. And finally setting traps becomes hilarious to watch. When guns are about and you have little armor to protect yourself, traps come in handy to take away attention from you. This provides a great chance to perform a grab and a special kill to your opponent.

An unique concept of adding the role playing element of an upgrading inventory along with character stats was a brilliant move. In Naughty’s inventory you can substitute clothing and weapons you have unlocked during your massacres to max out there potential. Equipping an item before entering a new level will provide the chance of “maxing out” that item which contributes to Naughty’s level. So unlock as many costumes and weapons as possible to max out and earn points to leveling. Leveling in turn increases your base stats which can help in the long haul if you have to go naked into a level for a specific mission.

Even with five spots to cover – head, chest, hands, weapon, and feet – there are plenty of items to be equipped. Weapons like Phil the Singing Sword will have you second guessing the mindset of the developers of the game, and a pirate costume set will have you pretending to capsize a boat as a bear tries to make a run for it. The important tactic to learn in order to steal someone’s style is to drag them into a grassy area and hit the left trigger. This will cause you to steal everything the bear has on but will return anything you wore previously back to the inventory. If you want to look silly, catch the mystical unicorn bear. She’ll leave you practically naked, but at least you will have the horn!

As Naughty, the game’s objective seems fairly straight forward (kill all other bears). Yet in each chapter and overall mission is given along with three separate objectives. The mission goal is a specific way to kill the target bear in the level. This can be done by feeding a certain renowned bear florist to his own bear eating plant manifestation. Three objective that can be given to the player could be any but not limited to the following: collect X,XXX coins, kill X bears, trap X bears, suicide X bears, or destroy X invites.

By completing the main mission and subsequent mission objectives, you can acquire more overall points and increase your global player rank for the level. Each level has a hierarchy of milestones where you can attain bronze, silver, gold, and platinum trophies. The point value obtained at the end of the level will provide you with your overall ranking against others on Xbox Live (you must play online for this feature). Who wouldn’t want to be ranked #1 for maiming Cuddles?

For added fun, the developers included mini-games for the entrance screen as well as loading screens. The entrance screen shows Naughty with a shotgun pointed at another bear. You are queued to hit a button in order to continue to the main menu or shoot the weapon. After shooting thrice, the damage is certainly done but firing can ensue for as long as your heart desires. I could not believe that during the loading screen there was a tied up bear on one side and a bear – presumably Naughty – with knife in hand on the other. By pressing (X), you could through the knife into the tied up bear across the screen. If you can manage to get five or so throws in, you will land a knife to the forehead. You won’t get an achievement, but there is some internal gratification that makes sense to someone in the world.

Visual
Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise shouts out graphic cartoon insanity from the get-go. This effect stems from the vast variety of killing blows delivered to its knowing as well as unsuspecting victims. Killing blows with weapons range from beheading from singing swords to a punting of a pretzel-wrapped bear.

The destruction doesn’t stop with wielded weapons. When weapons are not enough, the environments of Paradise Island hold many usable gifts for Naughty to be extremely – well naughty. Allow me to paint a picture for you. My wife walks into the room as I punch a lawnmower to life just like the Fonz. I then grapple a bear over to the lawnmower, and I notice a disturbed look creeping upon her face. As the dirty deed of grinding the bear’s face into the open mower, she seemed to be horrified. Then I showed her that I could shove a bear into a cactus plant!

Another aspect of visuals that should be mentioned is the user interface designed for the inventory and campaign hit list. The inventory reminds me of role playing elements like that of Diablo where you can select different armors to place upon your character. Holding true to the RPG style, you are able to see character stats and bonuses that the items will attribute to your character. With the hit list in mind, as you venture and deliver death blows to your bear acquaintances a “DEFLUFFED” will be stamped across the bear’s picture along with the current trophy attained in that level. While connected to Xbox Live, you can see your global rank and current score to the right under the map of Paradise Island. You just can’t look past an easily navigable user interface.

Audio
Sound effects add to the disturbing atmosphere that can be seen with bear suicides and vicious bear eating plants. Generally, the more screams you create the better you are performing. Other disturbing by necessary sounds come from over inflating bears or even forcing gasoline into a bear’s mouth. Don’t forget to a light a match for good measure.

Each level has some sort of background music playing which is emanating from in-game stereos or bear bands. These musical emitters can be destroyed to yield points and needed money. The stereos and bear bands only affect a limited area of the map; thus, traveling further away will null out the music. Or just destroy them.

Overall
Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise yields an unforgettable gaming experience that leaves its user with a seeping essence of evil. Slicing up some fresh teddy is fun in its own right and offers an interesting escape from the heroic savior norm that most games provide. However, after playing this game you will have inevitably joined the dark side… At least there are free cookies.

Part of the game’s flaw is the questionable rating of E10+ (Everyone 10 and up). The one aspect that surely would increase the rating would be the inclusion of alcohol, yet the readily appearance of suicides and gun violence roams rampant. Even the acts of violence like ramming a bear head into a lawn mower should be a red flag for parents with non-teens playing this game. I would suggest all parents to take an active role when purchasing any title for game content. While blame should not always rest on the game’s ESRB rating, this could be a valid exception. Crude humor and fantasy violence seem to be minuscule words compared to the content derived in the game. While the game is indeed humorous and fun, it should be meant for a more mature audience.

8-5-capsules-out-of-10

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