Game: Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise
Developer: Behaviour Interactive
Publisher: 505 Games
Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
The first Naughty Bear game (which came out in 2010) wasn’t really met with that much praise. A lot of people picked it up out of curiosity and didn’t like it much, while a whole lot of other people just walked by it completely, either after hearing negative reviews or just the fact that it didn’t look all that interesting to begin with. With that in mind, it’s probably a bit of a surprise that Behaviour Interactive, who were the developers of the first game too, (albeit under the different name of Artificial Mind and Movement) have come out with a sequel to the underwhelming title. Maybe this time Naughty Bear can do things a little bit better.
Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is a downloadable title, available from the Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network, so already it seems as if Behaviour Interactive have made a smart decision on how to distribute the title. They’ve been intelligent in regards to the distribution of the title, but have they gone the whole way and rectified the problems that were evident in the first game of the series? The short answer is “Yes”.
The story of Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise starts as you discover that all of the other bears have gone on a partying holiday to the Paradise Island Resort without inviting our titular character. That’s not going to go down well with our old friend Naughty Bear who decides, along with the voice in his head, and the voice that players will be listening to narrate the story throughout, to kill all of the other bears as a form of punishment. That’s about all there is to the story throughout the game, it’s not really something of substance but it serves its purpose in that it gives you a reason to be going round and murdering all of your fluffy brethren.
In general, the story feels a little bit lacklustre and it would have been nice to have a little bit more there to grasp onto, but at the end of the day there’s also the feeling that if the developers had tried any harder with the story it would have taken away from the humorous nature of the game on the whole. It would have been a toss up as to which way the game had come out if there was more of a narrative so the writers probably went with the right decision in holding back a little bit.
The visuals in Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise aren’t exactly stellar, but neither are they something that will turn people away from the game, they sit somewhere in the middle. The biggest downside to what you’ll be seeing during your time with the game is the fact that a lot of assets are reused from level to level, the main set-piece, whether it’s a mansion, a greenhouse or even a petrol station, will be different but all of the surrounding areas will contain assets that you’ve seen before.
It’s clear that a lot more time went into the other aspects of the game but that doesn’t mean that the visuals are bad, they’re just a little bit uninspired. The animations for everything that you’ll see are a cut above the rest though, you’ll love picking up new weapons as you’re wandering around the scenery just to see what Naughty is going to do with them when you grab an unsuspecting bear. Some of them are simply hilarious. Even the way that Naughty walks, hunched over like a stereotypical serial killer from any slasher movie you care to mention, will make most people laugh every time.
From the moment you start the game up, you know what you’re letting yourself in for. While the Behaviour Interactive and 505 Games logos are being displayed, the player is treated to some cute and cuddly music with a few out of tune chords thrown in just to give the hint that something isn’t quite right, then the true music starts as you see Naughty pointing a double-barrelled shotgun at another bear. This isn’t a game for fans of our fluffy faithful companions.
While you’re playing the game you’ll be listening to a narrator telling Naughty what to do and giving suggestions as to which environmental hazards he should use in order to take out some of the other bears. These lines are recorded to a high quality but do get quite annoying if you’re playing the level more than once (if you’re after a better trophy or just didn’t do things the way you wanted to the first time round). The narrator is a little bit over-the-top, which is fine given the subject matter of the game but becomes irritating over time. The music is sometimes a little overbearing (haha!) too, sometimes drowning out the narration making it difficult to listen to. Thankfully the huge audio portions of the game are few and far between so it’s not usually an issue.
The main gameplay mechanic in Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is to take out the marked bear and exit the level. Do this 36 times and you’ll be at the end of the game in no time. However, that’s not the whole game, if you play through the game that way then you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg of what Naughty has in store for you. Firstly, in order to complete each level properly, you’ve got to dispatch the targeted bear in a very particular way. For example, Pudding Bear, the second bear that you’re tasked with killing, has been splicing genes together to make a fluff-eating shark plant. In order to complete the level properly, you’re going to have to feed Pudding Bear to his own hungry plants. This carries on throughout all of the bears in the game, asking the player to take them out in a variety of specific ways, ensuring that each level isn’t quite as simple as it might seem at first.
On top of killing the main bear in specific ways there’s also side quests associated with each level. These are all totally optional but you’ll get points for doing them that go towards your final score, which in turn decides which trophy (wooden spork, bronze, silver, gold or platinum) you’re going to get when the level ends. These side quests range in difficulty from finding and destroying all of the invitations that are scattered around each level, to killing a specific number of bears all the way to trapping a certain number of bears using the venus fly traps or bear traps that are dotted around the level. One thing is important though, you’re going to have to take a look at what these side quests are before you start each level, there’s nothing worse than going on a bearicide rampage, killing everyone on sight, only to find out that you’ve got to trap seven bears in order to complete a side quest. Something like that is kind of difficult to do when there’s no bears left in the level.
There are a dizzying number of weapons available for the player to use too, everything in the level that has a blue glow around it can be used as a weapon against the other bears. Using it once will also unlock it in the store allowing you to purchase it using your Naughty Coins, which you attain by killing bears, smashing objects and generally being naughty, allowing you to equip it at the start of each mission if you choose to do so. Each of the items that you unlock from the store can be levelled up too, just by using them in a mission. Complete the mission with that piece of equipment attached and you’ll gain experience. Gain enough experience and you’ll max it out. It’s all fairly simple stuff, but nevertheless, it’s these things that will add to the variety of the game on the whole, ensuring that you don’t simply stick to one weapon and that you at least try other things out; even if it’s just to level it up to max.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys playing levels over and over again to get the best score then you’re going to love Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise. There are lots of different ways to complete each of the levels, along with a levelling mechanic that encourages you to keep playing until you’ve maxed out each of the equipment types you happen to be wearing. Add to that a trophy system; one where it’s extremely difficult to get anything higher than a silver, and you’re looking at a game that you’re going to want to come back to time and time again.
VERDICT: Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise isn’t without its problems, the main game might feel a little bit repetitive and with 36 bears to take out in total, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get a little bit bored of the main mechanic before you reach the end. That being said, it’s a massive improvement on the first game and as long as you only play it in stints of a couple of hours, there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from the sheer amount of ways in which you can mutilate your cuddly compatriots. The visuals are decent, the sound is good for the most part and the gameplay will keep you coming back for more even if you can’t stomach it for more than an hour or two at a time. Well worth the purchase and a smart decision from Behaviour Interactive and 505 Games to make this hilariously violent, yet cute game a downloadable one.