This raccoon is after much more than your garbage.
3D platformers are one of my favorite genres, so it’s odd that I managed to miss the Sly Cooper games when they originally came out. The thieving raccoon was featured in three games from 2002-2005, all packed together with an HD facelift in The Sly Collection for the PlayStation Vita. The fun, cartoonish visuals look great on the Vita screen, and the games offer classic platforming action, which is both a good and bad thing.
The collection includes three games: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racconus, Sly 2: Band of Thieves and Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves. While the first is a pretty standard platformer, the latter two games lean heavily into stealth mechanics in addition to the platforming. All three share the same base cast of Sly (the thief), Bentley (the brains) and Murray (the muscle), although the second and third games expand out the formula by getting the other two characters into the action.
Platforms: PS Vita
One of the most fun things about collections like this is watching the franchise evolve, and The Sly Collection is no exception. The first game is basically one hit kill, and finds an excuse to put water (which is deadly) in almost every environment. The latter two games expand out; Sly has a health meter than can be refilled with items, and coins, which could be collected to earn protection from a hit in the original game, can be used to purchase gadgets and upgrades. The additional characters also expand the game play, as each controls differently and has different abilities.
Having not played the games in their original form I don’t have a basis for comparison, but this collection looks great on the Vita. The visuals are fluid and smooth, and the art style really shines. It feels like playing a cartoon, and it’s a perfect fit for Sony’s handheld. While the in-game action fills the Vita’s beautiful screen, the cut scenes are letter-boxed ¾ of an inch or more on all sides, which is a shame. The character voices are well done and fun, and I enjoyed the music outside of some brutal harpsichord work in the first game.
The games are great examples of their time, which cuts both ways. They are fun platformers for sure, but they share the same camera issues and occasionally awkward jumps that personified a style of game that was still relatively new. They’re also from an era where developers felt like just being a good platformer wasn’t enough (I’m looking at you, Banjo-Tooie), so there are dual joystick and third person shooter sections, among other distractions. They comprise a small part of the overall experience, but whenever I hit one I was just pushing through it so I could get back to the good stuff.
There are a few Vita-specific control points to note; tapping the screen brings up the Binocucom (binoculars), and in the second and third games tapping the back of the Vita shows objective markers. For some reason though, while the screen tap worked fine in the first game, it was unresponsive in the others, often requiring a double tap. The objective markers worked nicely, although sometimes in Sly 3 they didn’t want to show up, and I wasn’t sure if the game or the controls were to blame.
For $30 The Sly Collection offers three great games, and I had a lot of fun with all of them. They’re handled very smartly as well – the total size is over 6GB but the package redeems as separate games, each about 2-3GB. That’s great for those of us who are already stretching the limits of our Vita memory cards (thanks PS+!). For series fans it’s a great opportunity to experience these games again, and genre fans like me who haven’t played them should definitely check them out.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.