More often than not, I come late to a popular game or series, sometimes as much as 10, 15, or even 20 years after its release. Super Metroid, Final Fantasy VII, the Ratchet and Clank series, just to name a few. As a result, I often feel at a disadvantage when other people are discussing great games I have yet to even place in my gaming bookshelf. Nevertheless, the power of positive thinking has made me realize there is actually a very wonderful thing about being a chronic latecomer. If you ever wish you could go back in time and relive your first moments with a great game over again (I certainly have…I’d love to relive Banjo-Tooie), well, I’m doing it right as we speak. Hooray for slow pokes like me!
Over a decade after its initial release, I have finally got around to trying for myself the Sly Cooper series. I was familiar with the games for years, but I just never played them, for whatever reason. I then found that the PS3 collection of the first three games was only about $10 brand new on Amazon. That’s $3.33 per game! Plus a penny! How could I afford to remain a stranger to the series for one minute longer?
I have just started playing the very first Sly Cooper game and decided it could be interesting to chronicle my thoughts on this well-established series, from the viewpoint of an absolute newcomer. I have never read about the plots of the games. I have never seen gameplay videos of them or listened to one second of the soundtrack. In fact, I only knew about Sly’s two friends thanks to that PlayStation All-Stars game on the PS3. Other than that, I am a blank slate.
Well, I am currently an hour into the first game, so these are my freshest possible thoughts. They don’t get any fresher than this, folks. I noticed right away that the controls were easy to learn, as they were pretty much the same as the Ratchet and Clank game I had finished a day prior. I also decided very quickly that I really liked the scenery and the music, though my true impressions of the game didn’t really start until I began A Stealthy Approach, where you are exploring this rainy location in order to reach the hideout of a frog named Sir Raleigh (all the frog-themed art this guy possesses made me laugh, though I get ahead of myself). The scenery was detailed and the sound effects of those high-pitched gull cries and the fog horn added up to an immersive experience I fell in love with within the first few minutes of starting the level. It actually reminded me of Rayman 2, which also used detailed environments and ambient sound effects (though, Rayman 2 employed less music) to take the gameplay experience to the next level.
The other thing that really struck me about the game was the fact that Sly can only take one hit before dying (including walking into cactus), unless he has a lucky charm (not the cereal; it’s a horseshoe) to protect him from damage, and you lose a life each time you die. Of course, losing a life when you die is certainly not a new concept. It just seemed a bit odd because other platformers that began during this time period (Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank, for example) didn’t employ lives, and it especially seems strange to lose a life after one measly mistake. On the other hand, this also makes stealth far more important. You can’t just run into a situation without any forethought, a fact I learned after running into a cactus I didn’t see until I had hit it, and then again after being body slammed by some crazy walruses that moved far quicker than their size should allow. This added need to be careful and precise in your movements clearly fits in with the theme of the game. You’re a thief. And thieves need to be stealthy. And what better way to force the player to take on this trait than having them die whenever they take a single hit? I mean, I’m rarely that careful in games until my health is low, and then I hide and dodge and weave like crazy. But if I have tons of health, you can bet I’ll probably just run in, guns blazing, before I form any actual plan. (“Guns blazing” IS the plan, darn it!)
So far, I’ve been enjoying this game thoroughly, and I can’t understand why I didn’t try it out sooner. The music’s good, the scenery is interesting, and it is just too great getting to play a platformer that I haven’t already played half a dozen times. (And, as I mentioned earlier, seeing frog-versions of famous paintings like The Birth of Venus and the Mona Lisa was as amusing as it was disturbing.) I really look forward to getting further into the game and sharing with you guys my newest experiences. Until next time!
Sly Ducker; I’m Good at Ducking?