Review by: Matthew Dujnic
Published: November 5, 2002
If you’re looking to make a big splash in the platform genre, you can still stuff your game full of cartoon characters, but you’d better make sure they’re palatable to the older generation. The only platform hero who can get away with being painfully cute is Mario, and even that’s up for debate. The formula for universal appeal is an elusive magic that every mascot from Crash and Sonic to Jak and Daxter have been trying to nail down. Sucker Punch has concocted Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus with such a focus. Another platformer starring a group of mixed-species talking animals sounds like sure-fire kiddie fare, but this game is definitely geared toward a wider crowd.
Sly Cooper is a heroic kind of criminal. Not willing to steal from just anyone, Sly sticks to robbing the corrupt and decadent souls of the world, pinching their most prized treasures for sport. He’s the last in a long line of master thieves; a culmination of skill that stretches back thousands of years. All of the thieving knowledge his family has gathered is contained in one book, the Thievius Raccoonus. On his eighth birthday, Sly was given this treasured tome, but that very night, a ruthless gang of thugs known as the Fiendish Five attacked his family, stole the heirloom volume and left young Sly an orphan.
Now fully grown, this suave raccoon is on a mission of vengeance, determined to even the score against the Fiendish Five and reclaim the five pieces of his family’s book. This quest will take him around the globe, as every member of the Five runs their syndicate from a different part of the world. He’ll be traveling through casinos, deserts, jungles, industrial areas and snowy mountains – all the platform game staples. Along for the ride are his longtime partners in crime: the brainy turtle, Bentley, who provides Sly with vital tactical information, and Murray the hippo, their jittery but capable getaway driver. Finally, one step behind them is detective Carmelita Fox; she’s determined to put Sly behind bars.
Like any professionally made platformer these days, Sly Cooper is overstuffed with whimsical cartoon detail. For most of the game, you’ll be controlling Sly, who comes equipped with loads of nimble moves. You need not crack open the instruction manual, though, as Bentley will radio in constantly with updates on how to use the controls. You ease into the action, starting off with the simplest run and jump situations, then moving onto more tricky moves later. As the Thievius Raccoonus is a record of all of his family’s techniques, reclaiming parts of it will reward Sly with new moves, which include speedy rolls and nimble balancing tricks. Some of these moves are compulsory; that is, you need to learn them in order to proceed. Others are completely optional, and they open up to people willing to collect all of the hidden items in the game.