Sly Cooper and the Gang In… Throwback Thursday

Chandler Kilgore-Parshall ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Ringtail. The Murray. The Cooper Gang. Thievius Raccoonus. If these words don’t ring a bell then you haven’t played Sucker Punch’s Sly Cooper series. It is hard to believe but it has been almost twelve years since the animated, stealth-based series first came out with The Thievius Raccoonus for the PlayStation 2.  And last month, the fourth installment, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time came to the PlayStation 3 with new developer Sanzaru Games. Mixing gameplay mechanics with Saturday-morning cartoon design, stories of thievery intrigue, and fast-paced gameplay; Sly and his capers are a gaming experience that can’t be missed!

Sly Cooper is an anthropomorphic raccoon that is part of a line of master thieves that have pulled off the greatest heists around the world. In the first game, Sly and his friends Murray the hippo (the muscles) and Bentley the turtle (the brains) fight the Fiendish Five, an organization of criminal masterminds, to obtain The Thievius Raccoonus. This is the Cooper family’s thieving chronicle.

In Thievius Raccoonus, Sly moves with acrobatic skill as he can walk on tightropes and shimmying along walls and edges. Despite having those abilities in hand, Sly is extremely vulnerable to damage from enemies and booty traps as getting hit means instant death (unless you have a lucky horseshoe in hand to protect you). Similar to Super Mario Bros in the Super Nintendo days, when you got hit by a Goomba or Bowser as mini-Mario you were dead. Besides breaking and entering, you play mini-games such as Murray driving the Cooper Van and Bentley’s hacking job, which is similar to a tank shooter. The game is very forgiving if you fail and thus the game ends in a heartbeat. Even though the game is not the most challenging, you become rather invested in Sly’s stealthy antics.

The sequel of Thievius Raccoonus is Band of Thieves, my personal favorite within the Sly series. Sly and his friends encounter another group of criminal masterminds, each with their own motives, known as The Klaww Gang. To prevent the resurrection of Clockwerk, the first game’s antagonist, Sly, Murray, and Bentley take active roles in stealing back his remains from each Klaww member. From Paris to India to Canada, all three of our lovable characters possess distinct abilities to accomplish missions. Sly remains fast, athletic, and sneaky, while Murray is slower but packs a lot of muscle into heavyweight missions. Meanwhile, Bentley uses his gadgets and computer to complete jobs from a distance. The gameplay is more polished and fun as you are playing within a hub world, so the player is free to tackle missions at their own pace while exploring the vistas. Sly, Murray, and Bentley have a health meter and thus one-hit kills are long gone. Skills and abilities for the three characters can be purchased and upgraded within each level. Sly 2: Band of Thieves is cleaner looking, the gameplay is improved and the writing, character development, and voice work had gotten even better since Thievius Raccoonus. And even then, it gets better…

I would go on with Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, but I think the four Sly Cooper games must be played entirely as a series and left up to the player to enjoy. The first three Sly games have been re-released on PlayStation 3 as part of The Sly Collection with stunning HD visuals and the same great gameplay. Let Sly Cooper and his gang of lovable misfits steal your heart and time with this fantastic game series!

The Sly Collection and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time are available now for Playstation 3.

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