Like a Teddy to the Slaughter – Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise Review
This game was reviewed on Xbox 360
Do you ever feel like taking a machete to your stuffed animals? Does the idea of choking your teddy bear until his head pops sound like some good fun? If so, I have two recommendations: counselling and Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise – the sequel to 2010’s Naughty Bear. That’s right, our psycho teddy protagonist is back, this time in downloadable form – and he’s more violent than ever!
After the massacre Naughty Bear went on in the last game, you’d think the bear community would have smartened up about ignoring him, wouldn’t you? Nope! Heading off on a vacation to an island paradise, the rest of the bears get ready to party – without Naughty. In a psychotic fit of anger, our twisted “hero” straps himself underneath their party bus and follows them to the resort to extract his vengeance. This is where you come in! Players take control of Naughty Bear in several missions that take place all around the island, with each level containing a main target bear and a preferred way to “punish” him (which is a polite way to say rip all of his stuffing out).
To achieve this goal, players need to either sneak or fight their way through the other bears. If you’re opting for stealth, there are several forested patches where you can hide. If you can sneak up on an unsuspecting bear and grab them, you can drag them back into the woods and steal their outfit – enabling you to blend in with the crowd. Should violence be more your thing, you can find several makeshift weapons and traps lying around, which you can use to beat the living fluff out of any bears in your way. Regardless of your tactical choice, there are several options and paths to get you to your goal, and the violent gameplay is full of both hilarious moments and cruel kill animations.
Aside from the main aspiration of killing your target, there are also three side objectives in each level. These consist of things like collecting coins from dead bears, specifically using traps on bears, or destroying party invitations. While completely optional, these side-missions add some extra playtime to the title, while awarding valuable experience and money. Even though it’s tempting to quickly hunt down and shred your target to death, it’s really worth your while to partake in the secondary festivities.
Between missions, gamers have the option to spend the coins they’ve looted from dead bear corpses on different equipment or weapons. Each weapon has its own attack power and speed, while gear such as hats, boots, and facial hair improve different stats, such as damage, armour or overall health. As well, as you kill enemies, complete objectives, and the like, you gain XP points. These fill up the XP meters of your equipment, and as they fill, your general level increases too. For every rank up you achieve, your base stats also go up. Careful though: once you max up an equipped item, it can no longer level you up, meaning you’ll have to swap them out frequently. Just keep slaughtering bears with different weapons and outfits, and in no time you’ll be a walking teddy-fication of death!
Aside from the hilarious and sadistic gameplay, Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise gets some praise for its art style – which is a bit of a visual oxymoron. The title’s graphics take a cartoony form that looks as though it’s been pulled from a children’s show, yet the amount of what I call “fluffy-gore” is bewildering. Naughty shows no remorse or mercy in killing other bears, impaling them onto cactuses or choking them until their heads explode in a mess of stuffing – but thanks to the childish appearance, you don’t know whether to laugh or be terrified. What this makes for is a devilishly fun visual outing that will appeal to both the child and adult in you. Just make sure you keep the actual kids away!
Unfortunately, the game’s audio is a bit of a Jekyll-and-Hyde affair. Panic in Paradise’s soundtrack consists of bouncy, cartoony themes which feature small and creepy ornaments, giving them a twisted sound to match the violent/adorable visuals and completing the messed-up package. However, the only real voice actor is the narrator, and he is terribly irritating! He speaks as though talking to a five-year-old, with that annoying children’s-show tone that you would find on something like Bananas in Pajamas or Sesame Street. While this makes sense if you think of him as talking directly to Naughty Bear himself, it still comes across as him speaking to you like a child – which will be maddening to the adult audience.
When the fluff finally settles and the last teddy-head stops rolling, Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is a sinfully delightful downloadable title. Sporting some adorably violent gameplay and deadly cartoon visuals, players will find the darkest parts of themselves coming out as they sink hour after hour into it. Come on, grab that machete and take a slice… you know you want to!
Final Score: 4.75 / 5.0 and the shredded remains of your least favourite stuffed animal.
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