This Day in PlayStation History: Sly Cooper Anniversary
Following a brief hiatus, This Day in PlayStation History, our recurring feature designed to act as your window into the treasured PlayStation archives, slinks out of the shadows today — and not a moment too soon.
Because on this day 14 years ago, Sony and Sucker Punch Productions introduced the gaming industry to Sly Cooper, a cunning, yet gentlemanly raccoon who, while late to the party, would go on to become a bona fide mascot for the Japanese platform-holder. Of course, we say late to the party because by the time Sly and the Cooper gang scurried onto PlayStation 2, heralding a slick combination of stealth and platforming action, the PlayStation community were already acquainted with the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter — not to mention the launch of Ratchet & Clank two months later.
Strong competition, then, but 2002 played host to the launch of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus — known simply as Sly Raccoon in Europe — Sucker Punch’s franchise starter that garnered solid reviews, yes, but also lacklustre sales. However that may be, a mixture of cel-shading and hand-drawn animation imbued the platform title with a film noir aesthetic that was fairly unique for the time, as master thief Sly Raccoon — flanked by Bentley (The Brains) and Murray (The Muscle) — locked horns with the Fiendish Five.
One trip to the Welsh Triangle later and Sucker Punch’s Band of Thieves returned for a sequel two years later. Broadly speaking, it fared better than its predecessor, buoyed by the inclusion of a demo disc in Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, along with the ability to control other characters beyond Sly Cooper himself.
Capping off a string of three releases in the space of four years, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves launched in ’05 and would not only wrap up the franchise’s tenure on PlayStation 2, it also marked Sucker Punch’s final installment as the developer shifted resources over to nurture its new IP, inFamous.
From that point onwards, Cole MacGrath took priority at the first-party studio, leaving Sly and Co. to retreat into the shadows as the PS3 era loomed large. Time wore on, and by 2010, the license had scurried over to Sanzaru Games, leading to a HD re-release of the original trilogy and, eventually, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, which became one of the early flag-bearers for Sony’s Cross-Buy feature in 2013.
To this day, Cooper may still be collecting dust on the shelf, but the devious trickster has cropped up in the past few years beyond the Sly Cooper series — be that in the form of a starring role in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, or a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Easter egg in Sucker Punch’s Infamous: Second Son.
All things considered, the Sly Cooper franchise doesn’t necessarily hold the cache of its platforming peers. A gentleman thief that fast became a bankable hit during the PS2’s heyday, it was really the extended hiatus between Sucker Punch’s swan song and Sanzura’s Thieves in Time where Sly’s resonance slowly began to trickle away. There are those who hold out hope that one day the dormant series will get the Ratchet & Clank treatment, retooled and rebooted for PS4 and, crucially, a little less than your RRP.
A Toast, to Honor Among Thieves
Speaking of which, much like Ratchet & Clank before him, Sly Cooper is on a path to the big screen — it’s a slightly more meandering path, mind, given there’s been no tangible sign of progress in months. Has the animated crime caper tumbled into development hell? A 2016 release date is still the target, apparently, but considering we’re one week shy of October, all bets are off that the movie winds up slipping into early 2017.
When we last caught wind of Sly Cooper — the video game franchise, not the live-action feature — Sanzura stressed that their are currently no plans for a future entry in the series. Citing a paradigm shift in the industry — 3D platformers aren’t nearly as popular as they once were, even when you factor in crowdfunded hits in the vein of Yooka-Laylee — the Sly we know and love has quietly retreated into the shadows once more.
“While we, like you, dearly love the Cooper gang, we are not currently working with PlayStation on a project and there are no plans to work on another Sly Cooper title.”
If that were to change, and Sony invests the necessary resources to guide Sucker Punch’s gentlemanly thief onto PlayStation 4, what would you like to see from such a hypothetical revival?
This Day in PlayStation History is a new and recurring feature here on PlayStation LifeStyle that will be acting as your window into the archives of all things PlayStation — birthdays, anniversaries, milestones and more.