We'll admit it; when Naughty Bear first came to our attention, it was tough to take it seriously - some of us still struggle.
The story is this: Naughty Bear is rejected by all the other bears on a paradise island, not only do the other bears shun him from the community, they keep ganging up and trying to kill him. Naughty Bear has little choice other than to 'de-fluff' the other bears (kill 'em good). It's hardly Heavy Rain.
In a way though, that's the point. Naughty Bear isn't supposed to be taken seriously. 505 are selling this game as a 'laugh out loud title'. They don't want you to search for plot or meaning, they just want you to pick up the nearest object in the game world, and hit a bear over the head with it. When you look at Naughty Bear from that perspective, you start to think there might be something to it.
"Humour is difficult to get right in videogames," said UK Product Manager Emily Bryce-Williams, "A lot of games have tried it, not that many have succeeded, but we really think with Naughty Bear we've got something special here. It's the juxtaposition, the fact that you're going out to exact revenge on your tormentors, but it's a bear and you're doing absolutely crazy ridiculous stuff. That's what gives it its edge"
Senior Developer, Dave Richards, took us through the second level of Naughty Bear which begins with a public address from Mayor Chubby, whose re-election campaign is based around killing Naughty Bear with hired ninjas (yes ninjas). A friendly, CBBC style, narrator offers some advice on the situation, "I don't think you can allow him to win this election can you Naughty Bear? Perhaps you should go and shut him down."
So begins the level and immediately the tongue-in-cheek humour is apparent as Naughty Bear is standing in the foliage with a big leaf in front of his face, which renders him invisible to the other bears who are having a BBQ.
It's at this point that Richards starts to talk about the game engine, demonstrating that there's a bit more to Naughty Bear than mere cartoon killing (only a bit though). Throughout the whole game all the other bears react in real time to whatever is happening around them depending on their own unique characteristics, none of it is scripted, "They all have their personality and they all have needs, so if they want to go to the toilet, they go to the toilet. If they want to dance, they dance. If they want a drink, they go to the fridge."
These aren't just faceless bears, they're fully developed, recurring characters: Cosy, Stardust, Nibbles, Sunbeam and other soft names. In fact, Dave Richards talks about Sunbeam like an old friend, "You can anticipate what he's going to do. You know his tastes a bit, you know this guys a coward so he's probably going to hide at this point so I'll prepare a bear trap." Ok, so maybe not a friend as such. The whole thing has a Sims element to it meaning that, theoretically at least, levels should never pan out the same way twice.
Naughty Bear starts to scan the area from behind his leaf, with the other bears blissfully unaware. Dave Richards tells us that every item in the world can be interacted with and used as a weapon. He could just run out and knife all the bears straight away, but to score maximum points he has to be creative and taunt them as much as possible first. It's all about being a scare bear.
Dave takes Naughty Bear to a near by house and, when no-one's looking, sabotages the power box, causing a power cut, before going back into hiding. One particularly industrious bear comes out and starts to fix the mains allowing Naughty Bear to creep up behind him and stab him Assassin's Creed style. Unfortunately, the killing is witnessed by another bear, the whole party is alerted and panic ensues. Again, the unique personalities of each bear come into play here. Some run into houses and cower, some phone the police (who arrive on a speedboat if you don't stop the call being made) and some come to fight you.