Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is a score attack, action-adventure game developed by Behaviour Interactive and published by 505 Games for XBLA and PSN. It is a sequel to Naughty Bear and carries the same basic premise; Naughty Bear has been wronged and now it is his time to wreck revenge in a most violent (but cuddly) way, against the other (teddy) bears.
Last time Naughty Bear wasn’t invited to Daddles’ birthday party, this time he wasn’t invited on holiday. Unbeknownst by the other bears, Naughty has hitched a ride with them to their island paradise and is there to deliver his own brand of justice on all those that shunned him.
The game begins with a slurry of tutorials in a basic text form with some diagrams to help you find your bearings. It is incredibly intrusive and actually really off-putting, a pop up will happen every time a new action can be made. It makes the game feel much less polished than it really is due to the games being quite brutally difficult to get to grips with. This is mainly because naughty doesn’t really feel very capable before you: get to grips with the mechanics and get a few items and levels under your belt.
The game has a very distinct feel to it; it is probably best described as a cuter version of Manhunt, though you could also draw comparisons to Hitman. It is by no means morally reprehensible; it takes a rather dark sense of humour to fully enjoy the game. There is no blood or real violence; it is very much comical in the way it is set out despite being quite about brutally murdering teddy bears. It is aided by the voice of the narrator/conscience; who has a very light-hearted but evil “Dave Lamb”-like voice (Come Dine with Me).
Your goal is to rack up as many points as possible in a level by performing various tasks. These include: terrorising, beating up and/or killing bears in combat, murdering bears with weapons, murdering bears with interactable objects, breaking objects and bringing bears into the view of “horrific” scenes. Score can earn you one of five different levels of completion: no award, bronze, silver, gold and platinum.
Each level has four objectives; one main and three bonuses. The main objective is to defeat that particular level’s boss/character but in a specific way. Killing the boss in any other way will result in: no extra points for completing the objective and it will also not allow you to progress through the levels; unless it has been completed once before on your save file. Once you kill your main objective, (not necessarily completing it in the manor that you are tasked with) you can leave the level to save your progress. Dying before leaving will reset everything bar a minor amount of XP for each item you have equipped.
Bonus objective are possibly one of the worst designed aspects of the game, they are random and influence the overall score in the level too heavily. It can cripple your creativity in a level by requiring you to kill X amount of bear via suicide or trapping a number of bears or even reaching a specific hit combo in combat. These random elements are fine up to a certain point but it gets ridiculous when 9/15 bears on a level need to be coerced into taking their own life or beating the stuffing out of bears that are incredibly well prepared to counter you in combat.
Naughty Bear has multiple tools at his disposal, at the very least he has his fists but he can take many environmental objects and make them into machines of destruction or just everyday items lying around as weapons. You cannot however, use firearms, probably for the best but it does limit options slightly.
Weapons come in a few different types; this means that while some weapons have widely different aesthetics but will be used in much the same way ie a cleaver will be a stabby weapon and mimics the same use as a more general knife. They also have varying strengths assigned to them, so a sword would do more damage than a pair of oven mitts etc.
Each weapon type has its own kill moves, each of which will be used for the kill depending on the exact circumstances involved. A kill on an injured bear is always the same with a weapon but picking them up before the kill gives a different animation. It can get a little stale after a while depending on what weapons you use more frequently but most animations are diverse and interesting enough to be viewed multiple times.
Aside from his gruesome appearance Naughty has his trademark Boo! which he can scream (or whisper) to instil fear in his prey. It all earns points but repeating actions will give diminishing returns, so try and vary it up before finally giving them the kiss of death. It’s also a good idea to bring as much destruction and murder into a crowd for maximum effectiveness. The more bears that witness your crimes the more you can earn in a short time.
Stealth does take quite a high priority as you must make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed by angry bears bearing weapons, especially firearms; which will make light work of you if you don’t dodge the bullets. Walking around in the wooded patches will render you invisible to all. This allows you to make your way around the map easily, without threat. It also will restore your stamina and as such makes it great for getting around the map fast and transporting grabbed bears.
As well as just hiding out in woods, you can also gain disguises. Normally you will find a bear, grab it and then take it to the woods to steal its clothes but you can also use clothes that you have found before and wear it once you’ve bought it. Certain clothes offer certain disguises and with a good disguise you can walk around, more or less freely. Certain match-ups like pirates and ninjas or thugs and police will not work and they will see through your disguise in the same way anyone who watches you perform anything naughty would.
Using disguises means you can quickly lose a group of enemies or even bait certain enemies into attacking each other. Switching from one disguise to another can make bears return to being “friendly” towards you but using a disguise that you have performed something naughty in before won’t trick them. You can also provoke certain groups of bears to attack each other so long as they both don’t know that you are Naughty.
Bears can be brought to various mental states, including terrified and insane. The Ai is very capable and just because a bear is in one of the more restricted states, does not mean that they are always defenceless. Some bears are still capable of breaking out of their terror; some will remain in that state unless you come within a certain distance, upon which they will violently lash out until you break away from them.
Levelling up is done in a way that really encourages variety and replaying the game over and over but it may alienate some people. The game starts off slow due to the lack of weapons, stats (health, defence, stamina, attack, insanity and regeneration) and abilities (which are unlocked at certain levels). Each weapon and item has a certain amount of XP that it can earn; once that XP is earned then it can never give Naughty any more XP. You’ll have to constantly buy and switch sets of items and weapons to earn enough XP to gain abilities and stats for Naughty. After gaining a few weapons and items of clothing to boost your stats and damage you can really get to work and start enjoying the game.
Combat is a little awkward though, in terms of how it flows more than anything else. With some of the higher strength weapons you may find that the combo carries on more than you want it to; killing a bear that you only wanted to injure. It still happens with weaker weapons but it’s less likely to occur. Also some of the objects are very difficult to break when they are up against walls; it makes getting coins very awkward and time consuming.
Presentation and Audio
The animations are fun to watch and the audio is great; though you need to enjoy dark humour, else you’ll find the whole experience either distressing or unfunny. Naughty’s boo sounds great and the panicked whimpering of terrified bears are deliciously evil.
Repetitive or addictive, both are words you can use to describe the gameplay. You will need to repeat levels over and over; either to increase score, earn XP for items or to just actually take the target out correctly. There is plenty to do and there is enough variety in most of the levels to keep you entertained without treading over the exact same ground multiple times; though you will find yourself repeating many of the same actions, the approach is what will most likely differ each time.
The game is maybe a little sadistic in content but more in a Looney Tunes way, than a Bulletstorm way. It does take a particular type of humour to really garner as much joy from the game as it deserves. If you don’t find the idea of teddy bears blowing their own fluffy brains out funny then this likely isn’t the game for you. It does however, cater to anyone who does enjoy that sort of humour; you need only persevere through the initial hurdle of the tutorial, which may put off many who play the trial version.
The game is very difficult to break into. The tutorials will overload you with unwanted information, but can luckily be turned off and looked at your own leisure later on. It starts off quite boring due to the frailty of Naughty and I lost numerous times before I actually succeeded properly at the level. Losing all your progress if you die in a level is a little too harsh. I ended up not having many of the low level items purely because I thought I had unlocked them but hadn’t actually survived the level.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.