Enviro-Bear 2000 is an arcade driving game about a bear frantically careening through the forest to grab fish and berries before winter comes. Awkward controls and loose car physics turn foraging into a dizzying affair of hairpin turns and rabid possums. It’s a classic game and perfect Indie Pick.
Released by Justin Smith in 2010, Enviro-Bear 2000 is an exercise in absurd controls and fast-paced action. The player controls a bear that’s stolen a car and must drive through the forest to find food. They only have five minutes to race through the forest and gather all the food they can before hibernating. The only thing that the player actually controls is the bear’s hand, meaning they need to use their one free limb to shift gears, press down pedals, and turn the steering wheel.
The player controls their bear hand using the mouse, sweeping their claws around to grab whatever they can. Crashing into lakes and trees drops food, and half of the fun comes from trying to scarf down berries while also driving to the next location. You’ll pop the car into reverse, place a small clock on the pedal to get moving, grab a handful of berries and smash them into your mouth before crashing into a tree full of angry bees. Each round offers new challenges: changing the cars physics or limiting what food you can collect. The changing conditions and the difficult control ensure that each round is mounting series of misfortunates that form a wonderful comedy of errors.
The mixture of comedic gameplay and complicated controls helped Enviro-Bear 2000 receive a nomination for the Independent Game Festival’s Nuovo Award, which rewards innovation in game design. The game’s design forces players to become aware of the bear’s body, tossing away simple driving for a mix and match series of inputs and actions. For all the comedy, there’s a sense that you’re actually driving a car. Enviro-Bear 2000 is a silly but smart experiment that’s a ton of fun.
You can play Enviro-Bear 2000 on PC and Mac.