Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise Review

How did Naughty Bear ever get a sequel? Of all the games I’ve written about over the past four years, none have been worse than Naughty Bear, reflected by its retrospectively generous score of 1.8/10 (on our old 100 point scale). Despite being a contender for worst game of the generation, somebody thought a sequel was a fabulous idea, or perhaps it’s all a failed dad-joke gone horribly wrong.

Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise has wisely made the shift to the budget landscape of PSN and XBLA titles. That’s where the positives end; moving away from being a full retail release is about all Panic in Paradise has going for it.

Like its predecessor, Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise sucks the joy out of anyone who attempts to play it. It’s the Deatheater of videogames. Nothing about the gameplay is fun, it looks terrible and the comedy makes you want to drown puppies. That all comes about from implementing exactly the same excruciating gameplay that plagued the original monstrosity. I’ve never heard anyone advise ‘when at first it all goes pear-shaped, do exactly the same thing again,’ but apparently that was the plan.

The whole affair is like a 14-year-old being forced to endure their parents dancing in front of their classmates; it’s horribly disappointing and you’d much rather set yourself on fire than see this horrific turn of events continue.
The concept is more or less exactly the same within a tropical paradise. The other stuffed bears have decided to go on holiday and not invite Naughty – probably wise considering his name and reputation. Furious with that decision, Naughty decides to go anyway and violently massacre everyone.

The slight tweak to the formula sees you assassinating a target between the mindless killing. There are 30 stages to complete, each with a bear to “punish” in a specific way. Sometimes that’s with a certain weapon or perhaps whilst wearing something inappropriate for a midnight murdering. This time around, Naughty can dress up and hide in the bushes to make good on his new occupation as a hitman. Aside from some funny hats and the option to drag victims into the woods, there are a handful of new destructive weapons to explore, but it all gets old quickly.

There’s only so much repeating the some boring joke over and over again can be reinvigorated by a mildly humorous outfit. That’s the problem with Naughty Bear; not only is it not fun, you’re repeating the same objective, based on a tired old joke, from start to finish. We get it, it’s a teddy bear killing other teddy bears. It was a novel idea that got old fast in 2010, and it’s already worn out in Panic in Paradise. The minor improvements are only positives in contrast to the rubbish that came before them, and are quickly revealed as the lazy marketing enhancements that they are.

The whole affair is like a 14-year-old being forced to endure their parents dancing in front of their classmates; it’s horribly disappointing and you’d much rather set yourself on fire than see this horrific turn of events continue.

The presentation suffers from the same ambition to drown in mediocreness. The menus are far better looking than anything within the game; Naughty’s design is fairly basic, but everything around him looks like it was ported from a cheap iPhone game. To reinforce the slap in the face, the worst voice over in the history of video games returns. The announcer sounds like he’s trying to explain to a 4-year-old why society favours the wearing of pants in an irritating, unbefitting high-pitched voice that makes no sense in the context of what’s supposedly going on. Avert your ears, even if it means grabbing the nearest Justin Bieber album.

If you’re still laughing at this point, and you’d be the only one, the “fun” stops when Panic in Paradise trolls you with an inexplicable glitch. I had to restart multiple levels for not “punishing” the target correctly, when in actual fact, it mis-registered what I did because I was standing on the wrong side. Other times, it’s less subtle and simply crashes.

Perhaps most disappointing is the severe lack of comedy. The whole game depends on one big joke. Its premise revolves around a furious teddy bear-turned hitman assassinating other teddy bears on a tropical island – it should be full of hilarious jokes, but it just isn’t. The few in there don’t land, and for the most part, it takes itself seriously…or maybe the jokes are worse than I thought.

Hidden under a sea of compounding terrible ideas is a semblance of untapped potential. A Naughty Bear sequel was never going to be good, but it could have at least been not completely awful. The costumes add a sense of stealth and could have made killings somewhat entertaining, but they don’t. Instead, they just make a button-mashing mindless drone even easier.

Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is awful. It’s a novel idea, as was the original game, but falls apart at every turn. The gameplay is marginally better, but still devoid of any semblance of entertainment, and any charm that it may possess wears off in seconds. It looks terrible, the irritating announcer somehow circumvented death to reprise one of the most despised voice overs in video game history and it’s totally devoid of humour. Worst of all, Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise just isn’t fun and, well, unbearable.

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