The saying goes “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well what do you do if it isn’t not only broke, but smashed to hell beyond all recognition? Well it seems 505 Games has decided, that you listen to the negative and attempt to correct them. Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is the follow-up to the original Naughty Bear. Known as one of the lowest rated games of this current generation, could 505 Games pull off a miracle? Well, lets just say that the sequel is better than the original.
The story picks up with all the bears deciding to take a vacation to a tropical island, but they forget one thing, to invite Naughty. Obviously that doesn’t sit well with the mentally unstable Naughty, who hitches a ride under the other bears vacation bus. What happens from there is a little bit Hitman, and a little bit RPG mixed with lots of fluff from bears being killed.
Gameplay consists of getting a set target and the preferred way of dispatching him at the start of every level. Now, how you go about getting there is all on the player themselves. Do you steal an outfit from a local bear, terrorize bears to the point of killing themselves, or use many of the environmental weapons, or just walk up and off the target with a melee weapon. The choice is totally up to you, but for a higher score, and better rankings on your friends leaderboard, the craftier and more involved way, the better. Every outfit you steal from the bears is unlocked for use at the end of the level, and each piece has different stats that can be improved on by using them multiple times, thus adding a RPG element to the game. The combinations you can make for your own fluffy tool of bear homicide can be quite humorous, and add to the replay factor of levels, as there are tons of pieces to acquire and level up throughout the game.
While the gameplay has seen a vast improvement, Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise still looks like something from the last generation of consoles. The backgrounds can get muddied at times, and nothing seems to pop on the screen. It really is disappointing this late in the cycle to see games that look like this, but the first Naughty Bear looked no worse for the sake of the argument.
There really isn’t too much in the sound area, although the background music really does fit with the island theme. You get all the growls and screams from the bears, and most weapons make a satisfying thud when used against your target. For those who enjoy toying with your prey, some of the shrieks of terror are quite funny to hear, and make killing the fluffy bears that much more enjoyable.
Controlling Naughty is a little tighter than in the original, as the camera seems to be more manageable than in the previous title. The only real shortcoming is there is no target lock on, which would help with some of the wild swings that can happen in melee combat.
Coming in at 1200 MSP, Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is a little softer on the wallet than the original title, and makes it an easier pill to swallow. There are 36 levels over 11 locations, and that seems about right before the game gets repetitive. Add in the costume system, and there is enough content to justify the asking price of this XBLA title, instead of a retail based disc.
While Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise wont win any awards, it is a good game for the mild distraction until the major holiday blockbusters hit. Fans of the Hitman series should have a grand time plotting some fluffy mayhem, and not feel too bad about it, as they are only spilling fluf, and not blood.
Audio/Visual – 2/5: Nothing special here, just good old PS2 graphics.
Gameplay – 3/5: Adding in the costume system may have been what the doctor ordered for Naughty.
Value - 3/5: Many hours could be sunk collecting and leveling all the different weapons and costumes.
Innovation - 2/5: Hide and kill your target, sound familiar Hitman fans?
Final Score - 2.5/5