Naughty Bear • Page 2

Nursery crime.

Except they don't, really. There are only three environments in Naughty Bear, each of which consists of two fairly small sections and Naughty's hut. These three environments are stretched out to seven episodes, each of which features a violence-ripe sitcom like a mayoral election or the invention of a race of android-bears, with a ring-leader who's usually the ultimate target for 'punishment'.

New levels are actually usually just new challenges set in each environment, with occasional batches of new enemies added to spice things up. Because these areas are small, and not particularly interesting, they quickly become as predictable as chip-sick on a seafront Saturday morning.

There are seven different challenge types: speed, kill, insanity, invisible, untouchable, friendly and top hat, meaning that Naughty must be as fast, violent, mentally cruel, stealthy, careful, friendly or, er, hatist as possible. They're an attempt to stretch an already paper-thin concept way beyond its natural breaking point, but serve only to highlight the incredibly one-dimensional nature of the game. All that most of these modes really offer is a chance to perform the same incredibly repetitive set of tasks again, with a few restrictions on what you're able to do to entertain yourself as you slog through them.

the Nut-shot: effective even against creatures with no semblance of genitalia.

Once you've played Naughty Bear for an hour or so, you'll have seen pretty much everything it's got to offer. Sure, there's some sniggering amusement to be had the first time you tip a squealing teddy into a giant cake-mixer, or grind his face into a turntable, but the next 400 times? Not so much.

But hey! Here are some zombie bears, no, wait... zombears, who are a bit tougher, and immune to insanity! It's a whole new game! No, it's really not. It's the same, puerile, shallow, shonky effort it always was, except now the bears are a bit green and have stuff missing.

Developer Artificial Mind and Movement, who also made the teen-targeted Wet, tries to keep things interesting by having live leaderboards, but it's really only of use as an indicator of who has the highest boredom threshold or borderline psychotic tendencies. I wouldn't be surprised if the top 10 each month were interviewed under very bright lights by Scotland Yard and questioned about whether they've killed many cats with hammers recently.

Optional sub-quests can be completed for extra points, but they're about as interesting as a nasty headache.

Multiplayer is present, but is again so formulaic and poorly executed as to not be worth its own while. A few thinly-veiled modes masquerade as teddy-themed excitement, basically encompassing capture the flag, oddball and juggernaut rip-offs, as well as a weird jelly-collecting shenanigans which pits one player as Naughty against the rest as they try to make the most delicious jelly. Never has gelatinous desert predicated so much gratuitous violence. Or boredom.

Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not remotely prudish about videogame violence. I'll spend as many hours gleefully attaching limpet mines to pensioners in Bad Day at Eastbourne III as the next man, but only if it's actually enjoyable to do so. Naughty Bear is frustrating, boring and intensely annoying, from the suicidal-sounding 'comedy' announcer to the game-breaking crash bugs, which apparently affect both platforms, and took all of 15 minutes of play to lock our office Xbox 360 into a hard reset.

Naughty Bear sold itself to a lot of customers by pretending to be adult, gritty and brutal. In fact, it's childish, facile and more pointless than manning the phone-lines for the Rob Green retirement fund. Avoid at all costs, or at least wait until it's inevitably slashed in price if you're really desperate for some sledgehammer humour and cheap Gamerscore. Until then, play a little bit of this or this, for free, far more enjoyable executions of what this game was presumably trying to achieve.

4 /10

505 Games has told Eurogamer that it's aware of the crash bugs and is working with developer A2M on a solution. "A title update has already been prepared and is going through QA submission as we speak. We are urgently working with the console manufacturers to expedite the release of the update," we were told.

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Dan Pearson

Dan Pearson

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