Game Review: Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise (Xbox 360)


How many of you reading this played the first Naughty Bear game that was released as a full retail game? If you answered yes then no doubt you were as apprehensive as I was when it came to playing this sequel. It’s not that the first game was bad, far from but it was a damaged product prone to freezing issues & glitches.

Saying that I still spent the 1200 Microsoft Points it cost to own Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise. Will it be something I come to regret or will Naughty Bear redeem himself?

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The story & set-up

Those silly bears have done it again! They’ve only gone away on holiday & forgotten to invite Naughty Bear along! While they are partying it up Naughty will be sitting at home all alone….or will he? It appears Naughty caught wind of the other bears little trip away & has hitched a ride on their coach. If I was these bears I would lock my door & hide under the bed, Naughty is out for revenge!

We take control of Naughty Bear with aim to cause havoc across Paradise Island. We do this by scaring, sabotaging, destroying & murdering. All the best things that bears can do! Each level is set on a different part of the island & tasks us with:

A) Killing a named bear (Cuddles/Fluffy etc.) in a certain way.

B) Getting a high score by scaring bears into madness or suicide, sabotaging equipment/destroying equipment & murdering bears in inventive & different ways.

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Killing the named bear in a required way is both fun & challenging, they can range from shoving a bears face into a grill to throwing a bear into a Stargate-esqe portal watching them ripped limb from limb. However there is not as much variety as there first seems & after playing through the first 10 or so levels is will all become quite repetitive & boring.

The same goes with killing the numerous standard bears that litter the level, use a pitchfork, use a sword, use a stick, use your fists, use their fists or my favourite….scare them enough to drive them to suicide. Beyond aiming for the highest score or platinum cup there is no incentive to really try & mix it up.

To help with increasing your score each level randomly gives you 3 additional tasks to complete ranging from getting a 25 hit combo to destroying invitations. They are not compulsory but will help when aiming for the platinum cups but ultimately add nothing to the game.

The biggest change comes from Naughty Bear himself! He will now level up which will give him increases in health, damage, insanity, stamina, armor & regeneration. As well as being able to take outfits from the bears you kill you can now equip Naughty with items before entering a level. These normally give a minor boost to a stat but through use can be enhanced.

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This is a vast improvement & gives more freedom in how a person wishes to tackle a level depending on what they are doing in it.

So how does it look?

At first it appears to be an improvement over the first game & you rarely see any frame-rate issues which the first game was littered with…at least until you get further into the game. It’s like the makers thought most people would get bored before arriving at the latter half of the game so they got lazy & sloppy. The games tear-up becomes so frequent you barely notice in the end & the freezing issues that plagued the first returns with a vengeance & you can expect to be resetting your console a lot.

The levels are basic looking ranging from beach’s to garden areas to industrial sites across both daytime & night time levels. As you would expect its quite a colourful looking game with the bears standing out from the backgrounds easily. Naughty is a grimy dirty looking brown colour while others are as bright as the rainbow. Each level has plenty of destructible items in it but soon enough you will easily be able to distinguish what is breakable & what isn’t. A group of bins? Smash them to pieces! A kitchen counter? Not so much.

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So how does it control?

Really well, everything you need is within your grasp easily. LT for a scare (hold it down to go to town on them), RT to kill them as long as you are behind them. For fighting you have the standard attack buttons & block as well as a run boost (LB). Everything feels right & the difference in weapons is noticeable when swinging them.

The camera angles can swing about a bit if you get Naughty caught in a corner but mostly it’s good & you have complete control.

The ease of killing using the environment should be mentioned, it’s a matter of grabbing a bear with the A button & hitting RT at said environmental item. As easy as that & it allows you to make a speedy getaway once the deed has been done.

It’s one of the few things Naughty Bear: PIP gets right.

How does it sound?

There is very little music in the game expect at menus. Fans of the first game will recognize the Naughty Bear theme. What music that does play in the levels tends to be quite haunting & fits what you are about to do really well.

Get discovered? The music lets you know. Done an evil deed? You won’t forget it.

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The best thing about the sound is the bears themselves, as they go about their lives you can listen in as they chatter away in ‘bear-speak’. Scare one & they will react accordingly. Drive one to insanity & the results are kind of sad especially if you push them that extra little bit….

All good except for the constant problem in the Naughty Bear games….repetitiveness! Why do all the bears sound exactly the same? Why do they all say the same things? Why do they all react in the same way? How hard would a bit of variety been here? Very disappointing….

Overall

Naughty Bear: Panic In Paradise is an improvement over the first, a seemingly easy task considering the issues with it. Sadly in the end it suffers from many of the same issues & while the argument that you can gain 40+ hours of gameplay out of it really just applies if you consider the 30 hours of the same thing value, I don’t.

Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise
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