Naughty Bear is an action game with one joke, and it's in the title. You play as Naughty Bear himself, who flips out after not being invited to a birthday party. The proportionate response for the fuzzy psycho is, naturally, to terrorise, maim, and murder the other bears living on Perfection Island. Although the sight of one teddy bear bludgeoning another to death is as arresting as developer Artificial Mind and Movement presumably intended, the bear-on-bear extreme violence is the game's only real hook, and it's stretched thin over the course of a full-sized game. Couple that with some shaky basic mechanics, and Naughty Bear becomes a hard sell.
Kill or scare: decisions, decisions.
In Naughty Bear, you earn naughty points for killing and terrifying your ursine neighbours. The more varied your reprehensible acts, the more points you earn, and the game enables this with a good, if not astounding, mix of weapons that includes knives, bats, guns, legs of meat, and the like. Further potential for death-dealing diversity comes courtesy of a selection of traps and contextual environment kills--you can slam a bear's head in a car door before he can drive away to safety, for instance, or cram the phone he was using to call for help down his throat. The violence is strong but cartoony; fluff will fly and your victims will whimper, but there's no damage modelling to speak of--no dismemberment or mutilation that would make it stomach-churning.
Combat is basic and requires little in the way of skill. There's one button for hitting, which can be tapped repeatedly for a combo or held for a heavy blow, and another button to dodge. Once your victim is suitably injured, you are offered an "ultra kill" prompt, triggering an execution move determined by your weapon of choice. These moves are amusingly brutal but, with just one animation per weapon, get old after a while.
It's not all about killing, though. Scaring your neighbour bears out of their wits is rewarded with naughty points as well. You can frighten them by roaring "boo" within earshot, by having them come across a dead body, or by having them witness you murder their buddy. For a more effective scare you can catch them in bear traps first to access a button-prompted "super scare", which amounts to a big "boo!" in their face. Torment them hard enough, and they'll go insane and eventually become suicidal. Making a teddy bear beat himself to death with a stick is a uniquely memorable experience.
Murder on the dance floor.
Rather than having a linear single-player experience with a straightforward narrative, Naughty Bear has seven collections of increasingly difficult episodes that must be unlocked by winning a certain number of bronze, gold, and silver trophies, given out for high scores in the preceding episodes. For most players, this will mean dipping into the early episodes of each chapter multiple times to pick up enough trophies. Each chapter is themed on a scrap of story to explain Naughty Bear's rampage: in one, he's being spied on with surveillance cameras taped to birds; in another, he has not been invited to a cookery lesson that winds up raising the dead. Like most aspects of Naughty Bear, the promise of humour (zombie bears!) doesn't get fully exploited--each chapter contains much the same micro-story reprised multiple times.
Each of these episodes contains a short chain of smallish areas; you progress by completing an area's challenge and unlocking the gate or bridge to the next. The challenge is generally to earn a certain number of points and kill or scare bears under certain conditions: don't be seen more than five times, for example, or finish the area within a time limit. For extra points, you can destroy special items, like birthday presents, by tossing them in a fire or toilet. Your score multiplier, raised by uninterrupted naughtiness, is key for getting the gold trophies; you can stop it from dropping by destroying smashable items such as teapots and windows between kills and scares. It's a likeable approach that works well because each episode is fairly short and based on a specific challenge, but it still feels like something is missing. Open-world, open-ended play or a straight, story-driven adventure might have been more satisfying; this collection of themed challenges would benefit from something more than high scores and a skimpy plot to tie it together.