Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise Review (Xbox360)

Evil bear. Bad bear. Grumpy bear. Stabby Bear. Wrong-Side-Of-The-Tracks Bear. Any of these would be a better choice than Naughty Bear. It's the type of name that can only be followed with a Kenneth Williams-styled "urrgh."

And this bear isn't even that naughty. Naughty is kicking a ball through a school window. Naughty is stealing a friend's shiny Pokémon card. Naughty is immortalised by Letter Land's Naughty Nick - where freckles and dungarees signify a real bastard. No, Naughty Bear isn't naughty: he's a maniac.


Whether he's ripping the stuffing out of fellow cuddly toys with a crowbar, or tearing them apart at the seams with a lawnmower; calling this teddy "naughty" would be like calling Fred West a "sod."

Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise marks the point where even I, as a decade-long supporter of videogame violence, feel like a line has been crossed. Taking the role of the titular character, the only point of the entire experience is to stalk through each stage, murdering tot-friendly toys. This is the XBLA equivalent of playing a nursery-level Jason Voorhees. Only more huggable.

The problem seems to be a complete lack of purpose or plot. Our anti-social bear is thrown into an environment and tasked with killing a certain soft toy. Usually their names are "Cuddles" or even "Patches." There is nothing more hilariously depressing as decapitating a Pudsey lookalike with a pitchfork.

And that's the odd dichotomy that Behaviour Interactive's game brings up. On the one hand, most teenagers are now desensitised to blood-curdling acts of destruction, and everyone has beat up a hooker at some point in their joypad wielding time - but on the other, the subject matter, and the child-like setting makes it all seem even more abhorrent.

Arguably the blandest screenshot ever created.

There is something utterly brutal and unforgiving about squeezing the fluff out of a pink teddy bear. It's like spitting on your favourite childhood plush, burning cigarettes on it, before reducing it all down to that scene from Reservoir Dogs.

While committing axe swipes to the head of an afro-sporting bear, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Throughout each level, the noises emitted from my throat were a conflict of terror and joy: eventually settling somewhere between a squeal of delight and a low groan of "is this what it has all come to?"

And this is without even commenting on the gameplay itself. Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is actually fairly humdrum. It feels blocky, it's repetitive, and most levels are too easy. Marking it purely as a mechanical experience of button presses would illuminate it as a fairly substandard game.

The main idea behind it all is a compulsive need to collect and achieve. Stabbing "Bo Bo" will give you coins. Smashing the place up will give you coins. Stealing uniforms will give you coins. At the end of it all, your shiny pennies are counted and you're allowed to equip Naughty Bear with a better arsenal, a nice hat, and a white wife beater.

And this is possibly the funniest part of the entire ensemble. Dressing up the hotchpotch bear in a bandanna and bowler, whilst also sporting a machete is funny. Inventory will also give you stat increases, and there is also a level system. It seems ludicrous that, in what is essentially a mindless downloadable, there are systems like these in place: almost like someone sane sat down and hashed it all out.

'Teddy are you okay, are you okay Teddy?'

So is Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise worth your time? I still sit on a sliding scale of disgust and delight. It is shocking, terrible, and a pretty poor game in all, but it also conjures countless traumatized laughs and is perfect when played with disbelieving onlookers.

It's dumb, it's crass, and it's not all that good, but it's shocking. If you fancy playing a real oddity of a videogame that will both revile and amuse you: look no further on your PS3 and Xbox 360.

Top Gaming Moment: Skewering a Care Bear on a pointed statue.