In mid 2010, a game called Naughty Bear hit store shelves. Unfortunately, despite all of it’s entertaining naughtiness, it failed to impress critics for a multitude of reasons. Artificial Mind and Movement isn’t going to let that poor reception bring them down. They’re ready to let players wreak vengeful havoc as Naughty Bear once again in Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise, only this time it’s coming to you as a downloadable title. In addition to leaving out a retail release, countless other tweaks and design choices were made in hopes of avoiding the issues of the first game. The question we’re now left with is, “Can Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise fix the flaws of its predecessor and become the game we wanted to love two years ago?”
Naughty Bear just can’t seem to catch a break. Once again, none of the other bears decided to invite him, this time to Paradise Island. That didn’t stop Naughty from going, however. With the constant encouragement of the equally twisted narrator, our sociopathic bear is ready to get revenge on the other bears partying (among other odd activities) around the island. Panic in Paradise sets Naughty on a violent journey to tear apart stuffed bears and spill their fluff on the exotic ground. Doing so is extremely entertaining, if not a tad sadistic. You see, Paradise Island is filled with deadly weapons and objects. In the beginning, you’ll have only your basic bear paws to dish out the punishment, whether that be done via hand-to-hand combat or a sneaky one-hit kill. However, a quick survey around the area and you’re sure to find something else to add some extra damage to your strikes, such as the crowbar (called Freebear’s Crowbar) which just so happens to be on the ground next to Naughty in the first level. From here, it’s up to you how you want to handle things. You may choose to impale a wandering bear on a nearby cactus, stick a gardener’s tongue in a lawnmower, sabotage a telephone and then beat whoever comes to fix it with the aforementioned phone or simply toss a syringe into an unsuspecting passerby’s face like a dart. That’s only a small taste of the twisted mayhem awaiting you (and I didn’t even mention scaring bears into committing suicide!) on Paradise Island. To help guide you on your path to becoming a cuddly grim reaper, the game provides riddles which give hints on how to take out each of the 36 memorable and unique bears to earn the “DEFLUFFED” mark on a particular mission.
Panic in Paradise allows players to be a bit more creative this time around. Naughty Bear can unlock weapons and clothing to try out different techniques in hunting their target. Grabbing a bear and dragging them into the “woods” — areas designated by thick shrubbery are safe zones where you are completely hidden — brings up a “STEAL COSTUME” option (L2 on PS3). By stealing a costume, you don whatever garb that bear was wearing. For example, if you drag a the main target’s bodyguard and steal his costume, no one will notice that you’re actually Naughty Bear, allowing you to close in on the enemy undetected. Bears with a heart icon above their heads think you’re friendly, showing you the effectiveness of your disguise. If no heart appears, you’ll still need to be stealthy. Upon completing a level, you’ll unlock all of the clothing pieces worn during the mission. The clothing is separated into the following categories: Hats, wigs and helmets; glasses, masks and facial hair; shirts, jackets and armors; shoes, trousers and pants. There are hundreds of options here and I haven’t even mentioned the weapons, which adds almost another hundred to the total. Weapons work somewhat similarly to costumes, but you must get a kill with the weapon for it to unlock. There are even special weapons hidden behind locked doors in Bearcatattoo Temples. Find the key in each level and a timer will start the moment you pick it up, forcing you to dash to the temple door before the key disappears.
Once these items are unlocked in the customization menu, you can use coins obtained during missions (mainly through breaking everything in sight) to purchase them. So, in a way, you have to unlock each item twice — first in a mission and then actually buying and equipping it. The whole thing adds a bit of an RPG feel as equipping different clothing or weapons changes Naughty Bear’s stats. You can dress him up in a Black Knight Costume, adding health and armor bonuses to Naughty, but his stamina will suffer greatly. Alternatively, you could sacrifice the extra protection and go with a sneaky ninja outfit to significantly boost stamina. You’ll quickly find that extra stamina is for the best, as it dictates everything from how long you can run to how far you can carry a grabbed bear. Fortunately, simply by achieving “Master” with different clothing/weapons, you can level up Naughty Bear, boosting stats outside of equipment and unlocking special moves, such as Mega Boo.
High Replay Value
Panic in Paradise blows its predecessor out of the water when it comes to replay value. With so much to unlock and multiple ways to take on the 36 assassinations, you’ll be going back to best yourself and earn a better ranking, which include the following: Wooden Spork, Brilliant Bronze Cup or Brilliance, Shiny Silver Cup of Shinyness, Glorious Golden Cup of Glory and Perfect Platinum Cup of Perfectitude . Maybe you’d like to prove your worth online? That’s also an option. With leaderboards tracking your scores throughout each level, you can see where your teddy bear homicide skills stand on a global scale.