A Fuzzy ‘Friday the 13th’: Re-Examining the Horror of… ‘Naughty Bear’!?

Inspired by slasher films and games such as Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Naughty Bear. Either that, or you’ve subconsciously erased it from memory. We wouldn’t blame you, to be honest.

Snark aside, developer Artificial Mind and Movement had quite a fun premise on its hands with Naughty Bear. It’s a game which takes place within a kid’s TV show where a colony of bears frolic around a fairytale forest. Thing is, one of these bears is not like the others, lacking their same perfect stitching or vibrant colors.

The game starts with the titular Naughty Bear being late to a party. The battle-worn teddy decides that he no longer wants to be an outsider and so goes out of his way to make a present. He’s turned over a new leaf. However, when the others bears get a glimpse of his gift (which is confusing, as its a generic box with a bowtie) they humiliate him.

So, as is tradition in children’s TV shows, they eventually overcome their differences and viewers come away enlightened, having learned an important lesson and conflict resolution and acceptance. Actually, no, Naughty returns his shack, grabs a machete, and immediately goes about enacting his revenge.

If there’s one thing the game gets right, it’s the fun juxtaposition of this cartoon world with the kind of murderous rampage reserved for films such as Friday the 13th. Bizarrely, there are also a number of parallels between Naughty Bear and the recent Friday the 13th video game. The way you hunt down enemies while trying not to fall for their diversions reminded me of stalking camp counselors in last year’s multiplayer murder sim.

The bears will try to flee from Naughty, running to cars and boats. Others will shut themselves inside, barricade doors, try to call the cops, or, as a last resort, attack with whatever weapons they can find though it’s often not enough. Even the way executions are carried out all echo Friday the 13th. To make things just that little more intriguing, the developer of Naughty Bear would later become Behaviour Interactive, the team behind Friday the 13th’s gaming rival, Dead By Daylight.

Sadly, Naughty Bear wasn’t much fun to play. The repetitive loop of chasing bears and killing them off quickly wore thin with little variation to keep players hooked. The game’s focus on score-chasing and keeping a multiplier running seemed completely at odds with how the game was being pitched. Each stage would rapidly turn into a massacre with stealth going completely out the window.

Playful in premise yet sloppy in its execution, Naughty Bear reviewed in the low 40s when it launched more than eight years ago on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It, therefore, came as a surprise when 505 Games published a sequel in 2012, even if it was download-only. It’s not a game we’d strongly recommend though is definitely worth picking up if you want to see how it translates slasher tropes and have a few bucks to burn.