Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (Sly Raccoon in Europe and Australia and Kaitou Sly Cooper in Japan) is a platforming video game created by Sucker Punch Productions, and released on the Sony PlayStation 2 in 2002, subsequently republished as a "Greatest Hits" title. It has since become the first game in the Sly Cooper series, followed by Sly 2: Band of Thieves and Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves.
The game focuses on the eponymous protagonist and master thief Sly Cooper and his gang, Bentley the Turtle and Murray the Hippo, as they seek out the Fiendish Five to recover his family's "Thievius Raccoonus", a book with the accumulation of all of Sly's ancestors' thieving moves. The game was praised for using a variation on cel-shading rendering, which is used to create a film noir feel, while still rendered as an animated movie, though criticized for being too short.
Sly Cooper is set in a world inhabited by anthropomorphic creatures. The game uses cutscenes to presents the background of the eponymous Sly Cooper, a raccoon who is descended from a long line of master thieves. However, that lineage became crippled when a gang known as the Fiendish Five, led by Clockwerk, a cyborg-like owl with an hatred for the Cooper line, killed Sly's father (and most likely his mother as well) while Sly was still a boy. The Five also took the "Thievius Raccoonus", a book recording the journeys and skills of all the ancestors of the Cooper line. The Thievius Raccoonus was split into five pieces among the Five, and dispersed to their various personal lairs. Sly was taken to the Happy Camper orphanage where he becomes close friends with the intelligent Bentley the Turtle, and the happy-go-lucky Murray the Hippo. Sly and his friends eventually left the orphanage and formed Sly's gang, pulling off amazing heists and robberies. Their activities attracted the attention of Interpol Inspector Carmelita Fox, who made it her mission to capture Sly, though Sly takes a subtle romantic interest in her.
At the present of the game, Sly learns of the location of the Fiendish Five by stealing the information from Carmelita's office, and plots with Bentley and Murray to retrieve the stolen book. Sly is able to defeat the four underlings of the Five and their minions, and discovers the location of Clockwerk's lair, all the while furiously chased by Carmelita. After an assault on Clockwerk's fortress using Bentley's and Murray's help, Sly is able to defeat Clockwerk and retrieve the "Thievius Raccoonus", though he is quickly captured by Carmelita. However, as Carmelita is distracted by Sly's flirtations, Sly and his gang are able to make their escape.
Muggshot – A gangster who grew up as the "runt" of the litter. He became very interested in the Italian Mafia and he knew instantly that's what he wanted to be. Lives in Mesa City, USA.
Mz. Ruby – Chief mystic of the Fiendish Five. She grew up in the swamps of Haiti. Having been born into a family of mystics, she didn't quite fit in with the children she knew. Thus she became a recluse and started using her vodoo to help the Fiendish Five. Lives deep in the jungles of Haiti.
Panda King – Chief Demolitions Expert for the Fiendish Five. He grew up poor on the streets of China. Each night he would watch the rich aristocrats fire their fireworks into the sky. He tried to make some fireworks of his own but was rejected by the aristocrats for his shabby clothing. Lives in the mountains of East China.
Clockwerk – Leader of the Fiendish Five and sworn enemy of the Cooper Clan. It was his life's work to extinguish the Cooper Clan. Fueled by anger and jealousy, he cast himself into an armor suit granting him immortality. He lives in the Russian Mountains.
To assist in these stealth moves, the player is shown special points colored with blue sparkles of light, identified in the game as Sly's "thief senses". The player can trigger actions at this points, such as sidling along a narrow ledge or wall, landing on a pointed object such as an antenna or streetlight, using the cane to grapple onto something, or climbing along the length of a narrow pole or pipe. The player must avoid detection by security systems or minions, otherwise an alarm will sound, and the player will either have to destroy the alarm, avoid or defeat foes alerted by the alarm, or hide for several seconds until the alarm resets. The game uses a dynamic music system that is tied in with the state of alarm in the area: the music will increase in volume and pacing when Sly attacks or is detected, and then will quiet down as the disturbance goes away.
Each sub-section of a lair contains a number of clue bottles, which when all are collected, reveal with the help of Bentley the combination to a safe in the level that contains a page from the Raccoonus. These pages grant Sly new moves to use to aid either in movement, stealth, or combat, such as creating a decoy or dropping an explosive hat. Defeating each of the bosses also gives Sly moves, and these abilities are typically necessary to pass later levels. Defeating enemies or destroying objects about the levels generates coins, and coins can also be found scattered about the levels; every 100 coins, Sly gains a lucky horseshoe that will allow him to take extra hits, or if he currently has one, an extra life. If Sly collapses and loses a life, the current sub-level will be restarted or at a special "repeater" that acts as a checkpoint; if the player loses all of Sly's lives, they must restart that bosses' lair from the start. Besides this gameplay, there are mini-games that include driving levels (based on Murray), shooting to protect Murray as he ascends certain levels, and a cyber-tank game representing a hacking attempt by Bentley. One notable boss battle includes a rhythm-based sequence.
Levels can be returned to at any time to gain additional coins or to seek out special moves. When a level is completed, and all of the clue bottles and the secret move found, the player can then attempt a "Master Sprint", a timed sprint on the level to try to beat a set time. The player can unlock additional artistic content by completing all the levels in this fashion.
Although the character's heads does not move in the binocular briefings, you can actually move them by using the left and right analog sticks, the left for Bentley/Murray, the right for Sly.
The music was inspired by the artwork from the game; Ashif Hakik, composer of the game's music, stated that "Stylistic influences came from a combination of instrument choices and musical character defined and inspired by the locales in the game, and similar composer works like Yoko Kanno and her work on Cowboy Bebop, Henry Mancini, and Carl Stalling." He continued to note that "the interactive music engine we used made us consider the gameplay for each specific level a sort of starting point that would influence the way the music would be written."
There are two different covers for the game and they both have two different names, depending on location. Sly Raccoon in Europe and Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racconus in North America.
Another addition in the Japanese version not present in the other versions is alternate animated introduction and ending sequences. These sequences feature full animation, as opposed to the limited flash-style animation seen in the other animated sequences present throughout the game. These alternate sequences are drawn in a typical anime style. The Japanese introduction is unlockable for view in the North American and PAL versions, but the Japanese ending can only be unlocked in the PAL version.
A common detraction of the game was its length; as commented by Gamespot's review, "The main problem is that just as you're getting into a groove and really enjoying the variety seen throughout the different worlds and levels, the game ends." The length was defended by Sucker Punch's developers; Brian Flemming noted that there was additional content to be unlocked at several levels, including "for each [Master Sprint] you complete, you get bonus commentary from the designers, artists and programmers here at Sucker Punch, something that people have reacted to really positively." The game was also cited as being too easy, with Gamespot stating that "The game's relative ease combined with a very short length prevents Sly Cooper from becoming the next big platformer. But it's great while it lasts." However, OPM noted that in regards to the difficulty "There's a pleasant old-school feel to Thievius Raccoonus; the enemies are merciless but a bit stupid, and the platforming challenges come on strong and ramp up steadily in difficulty as the levels go by." Reviewers also noted some framerate slowdowns in latter levels of the game, as well as some camera control issues.
Sales of Sly Cooper were poor, overshadowed by two other PlayStation 2 platformers published around 2002, Ratchet & Clank and Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. This, however, did not prevent the game from achieving at least 400,000 in sales a year since release to allow it to be included in Sony's "Greatest Hits" line, republishing it in 2003 and at a lower price. GameSpy considered Sly Cooper to be the 4th most underrated game of all time in a 2003 listing. The game has since yielded two sequels, Sly 2: Band of Thieves (2004) and Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves (2005).
Sly Cooper won "Best New Character" and nominated for "Excellence in Visual Arts" at the 2003 Game Developer's Conference for 2002. Furthermore, the character of Sly Cooper has also been come to be considered as a mascot for the PlayStation systems, alongside both Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter. This has further lead to collaboration between the development teams for all three series, Sucker Punch, Insomniac Games, and Naughty Dog, leading to subtle inclusion of some elements of Sly Cooper within the other titles. For example, a brief gameplay clip of Sly Cooper plays among several for Ratchet & Clank and Jak and Daxter during the start menu for Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando.