PlayStation fans are seeing properties that once defined Sony’s consoles get older. Unlike Nintendo, whose biggest franchises have remained largely consistent, the big names associated with Sony and the PlayStation brand change depending on the console generation. The original PlayStation was home to Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Twisted Metal, Metal Gear Solid, and Ape Escape, whereas the PlayStation 3 had Uncharted, Infamous, and LittleBigPlanet. The PlayStation 2 is the most successful member of Sony’s console line-up, and it was the home of series like God of War, Ratchet & Clank, and Sly Cooper, which recently turned 20 years old.
Starting with Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, the titular raccoon thief and his partners in crime were once the stars of PlayStation ecosystem alongside Jak and Daxter, as well as the aforementioned Ratchet & Clank. Although not as popular as its peers, the Sly Cooper series is still beloved by PlayStation fans, especially those that grew up with the PlayStation 2. A new Sly Cooper game is among the most requested titles from Sony fans, as the original Thievius Raccoonus created a unique work that stands out even today.
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racconus Remains Singular
It is not uncommon for game series to blossom in their second entry, and the PlayStation 2-era platformers are among the best examples of this phenomenon. The first Jak and Daxter game was more colorful, portrayed Jak as a silent protagonist, and was closer to the collect-a-thon platformers of the 1990s than the edgier action games its sequels became. The first Ratchet & Clank had its basic premise set in stone, but the absence of Dr. Nefarious and the more aggressive characterization of Qwark and Ratchet can be felt.
The Sly formula was similarly set by the second game, Band of Thieves. Thievius Raccoonus is an outlier even when compared to the more divisive Thieves in Time, as the Cooper Gang’s banter is more vicious, to the point where the camaraderie is sometimes hard to notice. Sly is the only character to be fully playable, with Bentley and Murray being respectively limited to hacking missions and racing mini-games. Instead of a health bar, the player relies on horseshoes to take hits in addition to tracking their lives.
Most importantly, similar to Spyro games, the game is divided in different hub worlds that have their own sets of appropriately themed levels. This is the ultimate separation of the first Sly game from its sequels, which would all treat the hub worlds like levels and replace Thievius Raccoonus’ levels with individual missions for each Cooper Gang member.
Despite these differences, there is still plenty to like about the eponymous raccoon’s first outing. The series as a whole is associated with both stealth games and platformers, but Thievius Raccoonus’ more straightforward platforming shows a different side to Sly Cooper. The villains themselves are as colorful as their successors, and get points for being among the most personal antagonists in the series. Additionally, thanks to the clue bottles and unlockable attacks, the first Sly Cooper stands on its own with plenty of replay value.
Despite being the target of several rumors, a new Sly Cooper game seems unlikely, but the Cooper Gang still stands strong. Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus may not offer the spectacle and variety of its sequels, but it remains a solid first installment with its own unique perks. Both Sly veterans and newcomers can still enjoy this PlayStation 2 classic after two decades.