Naughty Bear: Gold Edition Review: Because Playtime Is Far From Over

It’s the summer, and you know what that means. It means it’s time for swimming, picnics, and outdoor parties. What if your friends all got invited and you didn’t? Well, there’s someone you may relate to. His name is Naughty, and he’s a little angry about a similar situation. Turn on your controller and take your aggression out on Naughty’s “friends” – because for $30, it’s easier and cheaper than winding up with a dozen lawsuits for your friends’ hospital bills. Naughty Bear: Gold Edition is a simple game, but don’t underestimate it.

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360 (Version Played)
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Behaviour Interactive
Genre: Toy-Murdering Mayhem
Release Date: May 24, 2011
ESRB Rating: Teen

When starting the game, the player is met with a title screen which instantly depicts the level of imminent mischief. Beginning a new game introduces the player to Naughty Bear and the game’s story. Naughty Bear decides to plot revenge on the other bears because of constant insults, exclusion, and, well, his general bad attitude. Without hesitation, the player plunges into the game and is left to deal with their first challenge – teaching birthday bear Daddles and the other bears to invite you to the next birthday party… if they survive.

Naughty Bear: Gold Edition contains three new episodes in addition to the original seven. Each episode consists of three main stages, with two bonus stages that require specific trophy rankings to unlock. Bronze trophies constitute a “Naughty” ranking, while Gold trophies constitute a “Well Naughty” ranking in the game. Bronze trophies are necessary to unlock some of these stages, but advanced stages require Gold trophies to unlock. Bronze trophies are simple to obtain; generally, completing a stage’s main requirements will do the trick. Gold trophies can sometimes require completing extra objectives and using combo tactics and attacks to your advantage.

Every episode in Naughty Bear replicates a progressive, arena-style map, requiring the player to fulfill the stage’s objective in each segment before the next is unlocked. The unlock requirement is often based on the player’s score, but can also involve the killing – or, “defluffication” – of a set number of enemy bears. Defluffication methods allow the player to be eerily creative, choosing from weapons like golf clubs, machine guns, giant axes, bear traps, or your “bear” fists – if you’re feeling so animalistic. In case the player has a tough time building up the score on said bears, other requirements – such as destroying a number of Daddles’ gifts, bird-cams, or causing general havoc – can build up the player’s multiplier and effectively increase their score.

There are a multitude of extra game modes in Naughty Bear, from the standard Kill Them All/Defluff Them All! to Insanity Challenges – where the point is to drive the enemy bears insane by sabotaging random props and items in the level and scaring them while they repair said props and items, forcing them to eventually commit suicide. Invisible Challenges incorporate a stealthier mode of play, where Naughty must stay out of sight while killing one bear at a time. This requires a bit of strategy, since they like to plot against Naughty’s attacks in larger numbers. The most difficult mode is “Untouchable,” where Naughty must fulfill the stage’s objectives without being hurt – a difficult task, since some bears wield guns rather than melee weapons. These game modes keep Naughty Bear refreshing and continuously exciting – a feat that wouldn’t be possible if the entire game operated on a “Kill Them All” mechanic.

Naughty Bear does have its drawbacks, however. First off, the camera is, by current standards, atrocious. By default, it tends to avoid snapping to a position behind Naughty Bear – an idea that would be well-employed when dealing with a horde of murderous, stuffed rivals. Camera positioning is constantly in flux, jumping between cutscenes and gameplay in the midst of an attack. For example, the player sneaks up on a bear to scare or kill them; when the player chooses one of these two actions, a cutscene depicts the choice, and repositions the camera to match Naughty’s bearings. This makes the game’s control much less predictable.

The attack system also needs a lot of improvement, especially with proximity to other bears and items. Though a melee weapon may visually go through a bear, Naughty still needs to be very close to them in order for a weapon to actually make contact. This is a very daunting task when bears are running away from Naughty for the entirety of the game. Dealing with damaging other bears isn’t the only proximity issue here – there’s also picking up items, opening doors, and altering the stage’s props. Load times also affect the game greatly – when restarting or retrying a stage, load times are as long as they were when the player loaded up the map for the first time. Wasn’t this sort of issue resolved in most games five years ago?

If you’re looking for a more “playful” version of a game seemingly derived from a slasher horror movie, Naughty Bear makes a fair attempt to satisfy that plushy bloodthirst… er, stuffing-thirst. The controls and mechanics aren’t necessarily up to snuff by current gaming standards, but I found myself returning to my Xbox 360 to retry a few stages that I had already completed. This game could be a decent afternoon-filler, but don’t push any other games out of your way to get to this one, by any means. It barely accomplishes what it sets out to do, but at least you’ll be able to get away with murder.

Review Disclosure: A review copy of Naughty Bear: Gold Edition was provided by 505 Games for the purposes of this review.

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