I often comment here about how behind I am in terms of video games. It seems that I rarely play something right after it releases. The distance between the release of a game and when I get to it varies wildly. I didn’t really get into the PlayStation 2 era until late so I missed a lot of games from that time. In the case with Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus I played it as part of the Sly Cooper Collection released for the PlayStation 3.
The story here follows the titular character, Sly Cooper. Sly is the descendant of a long line of raccoon master thieves. This line of master thieves has a book called the Thievius Raccoonus that has the accumulated knowledge of the Cooper family and would enable you to become a master thief.
Since Sly was the most recent Cooper he was set to inherit the Thievius Raccoonus from his father. However, his father was killed and the book was stolen by members of a group known as the Fiendish Five. Sly was then sent to an orphanage where he met his two best friends Bentley the Turtle and Murray the Hippopotamus. It with this group of three friends that Sly decides to seek after those who killed his father, bring them to justice, and retrieve the Thievius Raccoonus. In addition to the Fiendish Five standing in your way you also have to avoid the tenacious Interpol agent Carmelita Fox as she seeks to put Sly Cooper behind bars for his own thieving ways. All of this however is a very family friendly affair and is rated E for Everyone.
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is largely focused on 3D platforming with stealth elements. You control Sly Cooper for the majority of the game and you seek to infiltrate the five lairs of the Fiendish Five and put an end to their schemes. You do this both by sneaking past security systems, defeating enemies, and finding ways to get past obstacles using your special thief abilities.
You will also engage in combat during the game as Sly can use his cane to defeat enemies. However, Sly can be defeated in one hit, unless he has a lucky horseshoe that gives him an extra hit, so using stealth to sneak up on enemies is beneficial.
Each level in the various lairs also contain bottles with clues on how to open a safe that will include a unique move for Sly Cooper. There are also coins to collect in each level that will enable to you gain a lucky horseshoe after collecting 100 coins. If you already have this horseshoe you will gain an extra life.
In addition to playing as Sly you also have other missions where it allows you to play as or at least support either Bentley or Murray. Murray will drive in races, need protected by Sly on a turret while he runs to a particular location, or you’ll play as Bentley while he is hacking electronics in a cyber tank game.
There are a decent number of positive themes in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. The most significant is that of teamwork and friendship. The team of Sly, Bentley, and Murray is tight knit despite there great differences. Sly is clever, cool, smooth and agile; Bentley is smart, no-nonsense, and nerdy; while Murray is strong, boisterous, and maybe not the smartest tool in the shed. All of their strengths are needed to accomplish their mission and it is the friendship between these three that remains a theme through the next two games as well.
You also have the theme of revenge, but it plays out here much differently than most other games. In most other games it is about killing those who are in your path, this is evident in the Assassin’s Creed games I’ve commented on elsewhere. With Sly Cooper you are defeating the various members of the Fiendish Five but ultimately you help bring them to justice and not doling out the sentence yourself. With only one exception the members of the Fiendish Five are all placed under arrest.
If there is one theme that may cause some case for pondering it is the fact that Sly himself is a thief. He is escaping from the law himself throughout the game. Sly is a thief in the mold of Robin Hood, he steals from criminals or in order to find criminals. This doesn’t negate the fact that he is a thief, but does put a more positive approach to the whole thing.
- Quality Family Friendliness – It seems that as the average gaming age has increased there has become a decreasing amount of quality games that you wouldn’t mind having your kids play. Even though this game is a bit old in its original incarnation it is still a nice family friendly game that is also a quality gaming experience and not just some cash in movie or television series tie-in.
- Good People, Good Places – The world of Sly Cooper is a stylized version of our world with anthropomorphic characters and a fairly memorable cast of characters, particularly Sly’s group. The levels are fun and while they do wind up falling into some standard level categories they still manage to be well done.
- Does Everything a Raccoon Can? – I thought that the controls for this game were pretty solid. New moves are added as you go on and it winds up being a rather satisfying platforming game.
- The Fractured Fiendish Five – For a group of criminals the Fiendish Five make for good antagonists, but also a rather disjointed story as well. They seem to be working together in their attack on Sly’s father and mother, but lack any kind of cohesion during the actual story. I understand why this is, so that the stage setup can focus on one particular enemy, but it winds up hurting the story a bit.
- The Old is the New New – Do you remember the last platforming game you’ve played that uses a life system? Not many of them do anymore. It winds up being a fairly archaic mechanic, but it was one that I actually kind of enjoyed seeing. Sometimes it made for some frustration, but I also enjoyed experiencing it again.
- Playing an Older Cartoon – Even with the HD upgrade, you can tell that Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is an older game. It has a great art direction, and the visuals haven’t aged that badly, but you can still tell it is an older game.
- Over Too Quick – Sly Cooper’s first outing is a bit on the short side. This isn’t that much of a negative though at least with the Sly Cooper Collection. It probably would have been a bigger issue when buying it on the PlayStation separately though.
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus was an enjoyable game and I would highly recommend it. The game is a good 3D platformer, with fun characters, solid gameplay and is a game that you can purchase to let your kids play or not have to worry about them watching you as you’re playing. Considering the game is part of the Sly Cooper Collection there is little reason not to get the collection as you get the three PlayStation 2 Sly game’s for very little (Amazon has it for a little under 15 dollars as of writing).