Whilst the Weekly Showcase Rundown is, by its very name, a weekly thing. However, as I have been on holiday for 2 weeks, that meant that the Weekly Retro Showcase stream had to be put on hold until I got back. With that in mind, last weekend’s stream was the first in the Weekly Retro Showcase since we played Kirby Super Star Ultra (which you can read about here).
Originally, the random number generator had picked Septerra Core (a very important game from my formative gaming years) but unfortunately, it would not work in windowed mode meaning that I couldn’t stream it. Therefore, I had to re-roll the number generator and it landed on Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus for the PlayStation 2. I played that game back when it was first released, as well as the second in the series, but never played it again since. So, let’s take a look at what I thought of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus having gone back to it this weekend.
When I first started up Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, I had an image in my head about what the game was going to be. That was based on memories of it and a sense of nostalgia. However, I tried to ignore that pre-determined idea of the game as I was certain it was covered by rose-tinted glasses. Therefore, I went into the stream expecting to be disappointed in how Sly Cooper was compared to my memories of it.
Yet, the second the opening music kicked in and I saw the pan of the camera, the entrance of our protagonist and the title screen appear, I felt a huge rush of nostalgia. I also felt surprised.
You see, straight from the title screen, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus looked beautiful. Even today, going back to it, the game still looks amazing. The cell-shaded graphics give it a timeless comic book aesthetic that really helps to combat ageing. Oh, and I should say that we were playing through the original PlayStation 2 version of the game and not the PS3 HD remaster.
Unlike the previous game in the Weekly Retro Showcase, Sly Cooper didn’t start with an extremely slow text-based tutorial, either. Instead, it made use of rendered actions and scenes to tell you how to play. For example, immediately after you start the game, Sly looks around using his binoculars. It is at this point that your ally, Bentley, gives you instructions on certain aspects of gameplay. From there, are set intervals throughout the opening segment and the first mission, Bentley gave further instructions on the various mechanics, as and when needed.
This method of the tutorial is more common in the 3D platformer genre than the 2D one, simply because there are typically a wider variety of mechanics in 3D platformers. However, the fact that Sly Cooper’s implementation of it featured rather comical lines from Bentley meant that it didn’t feel like you were being told how to play the game.
Speaking of playing the game, that’s a great point in time to jump on into the gameplay of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. As previously mentioned, Sly Cooper is a 3D platformer in a similar vein to the likes of Spyro the Dragon. In fact, it shares quite a lot of similarities with Spyro in terms of basic gameplay mechanics. You need to collect coins in Sly Cooper, like you collect gems in Spyro. On top of this, your health relies on finding horseshoes, with them “stacking” on your back to give you an increased amount of “hits” that you can take before dying. This functions the same way as the dragonfly in Spyro the Dragon. Both games also use hub worlds that you can explore with levels coming off those hub worlds through portals.
In other words, if you’ve played the Spyro games before, jumping into Sly Cooper should be pretty easy. However, the game diverges considerably once you get passed those basic similarities.
For example, whereas most platformers are simply about running around, beating enemies and defeating bosses, Sly Cooper plays a little differently. Since you play as a thief, there is a hint of stealth mechanics in the game. One section that comes to mind, which I failed badly on during the stream, involved jumping into a barrel and using that to hide yourself from your enemy’s flashlight.
Typically, I don’t actually like stealth mechanics being added to non-stealth games. This generally leads to bad gameplay as you have to switch between two different storytelling and progression methods. However, because Sly Cooper was designed to be both a very mild stealth game and a platformer right from the beginning, these small segments actually work rather well.
On top of all of this, you also have the fact that Sly Cooper is not a completely simple game to play. The controls are fine and the level design & layout is on point. However, the game is not forgiving; the slightest human error in controlling the aforementioned raccoon will almost certainly lead to death.
Moving on to the final aspect of the Weekly Showcase Rundown, we need to talk about whether Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is enjoyable to play or not. After all, enjoyment is the quintessential factor in deciding whether a game is worth your time or not. If you’re not having fun whilst you are playing a game, then it probably isn’t worth playing.
Thankfully, that isn’t the case for Sly Cooper.
I had a lot of fun playing the short amount of time that I did. Between the variations in level design and structure to the banter between characters, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus was incredibly enjoyable to play. In fact, I even laughed quite a lot as well.
Being able to make the gamer laugh just a little bit is a great example of a game being fun to play. The quick pace that Sly Cooper runs at, as well at the fact that the enemies seem to have varying levels of behaviour and intelligence, all means that the feels significantly different to the other PS2 strategy games.
It’s also worth mentioning that, as you can see from the Twitch Clip above, the enemy placement in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus actually made me jump. Considering the fact that I’m a huge horror game fan, seeing me jump and to Sly Cooper was a very funny more in the stream!
And That’s All Folks
In the end, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus has aged really well! Part of this comes from the cell-shaded graphics which don’t really show their age much at all. However, it also comes from the way in which the developers handled the likes of the hun world and individual levels. The game is just fun!
Have you played Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus before? If so, let me know in the comments below.
Did you enjoy this post, or the clips in it? Then when not check out the Weekly Retro Showcase livestreams, every Sunday night over on my Twitch channel! Next week, we’ll be playing Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.