Sly Cooper is fifteen years old today. Crazy, huh? There's no news to speak of, sadly, so I decided that I would tell my Sly Cooper story, and I encourage all to do the same in the comments below.
I remember way back in 2002 getting a PS2 for my birthday and asking for one game and one game only: Sly Fox. Not a thing. Luckily, my mom went to the local GameCrazy (the video game store that was connected to Hollywood Video; two dead companies) and asked for Sly Fox. Whoever was behind the counter at the time was smart enough to realize that I had meant Sly Cooper and that the game wasn't going to be coming out for another 3 and a half months or so. So my first preorder was placed. (It was a small town, and this was a time where digital distribution was limited to Doom WADs, so preorders were actually necessary to make sure a copy was reserved for you come launch day.) One of my friends, an older kid (11 to my 8) named James, had gotten a PS2 sometime between my birthday and the launch of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. Along with his PS2, he got several demo discs. One of the those discs contained a demo for Sly Cooper. The demo covered the whole first episode; every job, including the boss fight against Raleigh, was playable. I played around with it, but since my friend had given it to me right as he entered the boss fight, I died. A lot. So I gave up (you have to realize that a lot of my friends had video games, but the only game for my PS2 was Monsters, Inc. Yeah, I was much more sporty back then) and never played the demo again.
Then that fateful day came: September 23. A Monday, strangely enough. Mozilla Firefox released. I, of course, was too young to really know what the internet was, and so didn't care about that. School came and went. I got home. And there it was. My after school snack: celery with peanut butter and raisins. Oh yeah, and Sly Cooper. My memories of playing through the game for the first time are few: I remember having a lot of trouble with Muggshot and Mz. Ruby... And Clockwerk wasn't beaten for years. Really, years. I didn't beat him until 2004. How do I know? Because I had brought my PS2 over to James' house where we beat it after playing a bit of Jet Li: Rise to Honor (release date: February 17, 2004). But it was done. We had beaten Clockwerk. The game was over.
As I said, I remember very little about my first playthrough, and some of the details I do remember are anachronistic (like in the first real mission, A Stealthy Approach, I remember Sly saying to Bentley by the waterfalls you have to jump through that "the only water I like is in a glass." That's not something that Sly says in the game. Or in any game. He says it in Sly Cooper: To Catch a Thief ("the only water I like is in a cup") which I swear I didn't read until very recently. Like, so recently that I have memories of my memory from before reading the book. I read that line and thought to myself "oh, that's where that line is from." Note that the book didn't come out until 2006.) Very anachronistic indeed. (There is the possibility that the line was said in the demo that James had and was removed from the final game; I can't be sure as I can't find the demo anywhere.)
Sly 2: Band of Thieves was the odd game out for me. I didn't get it until my birthday in 2005, some eight months after it released. I know because by the time I got it, I had already moved away from all of my friends, north several hours, and we were living with my grandparents while we searched for a domicile to call our own. That's when I was officially introduced to the internet. And when I found out what a powerful tool it was, I looked for Sly Cooper information. And found Sly 2. And when it was announced, Sly 3.
Sly 2 was a birthday gift in 2005, and Sly 3 was one of, if not the first, video games that I bought with my own money. I had to have it on the day of release. Thank you, local Wal-Mart, for stocking it (I had some money left over, so I also bought one of those pillows that is shaped like a chair: it was my Sly 3 pillow).
As time went on, I eventually beat 2 and 3, and my hunger was not satiated. I needed more Sly Cooper. Luckily, by this time, my family had a computer and the internet. Sucker Punch's website was my daily stop. Be it indulging in the comics, checking out concept art or reading some of the "Sucker Punch approved" fan fiction (stories written by the community and posted on the Sucker Punch website; sadly they are all gone now as they were hidden behind a login that can't be accessed through any web archive), I was always ready for more Sly Cooper. But it didn't come. Not for years. We all know the wait.
2007-2010 were some interesting years to be a Sly Cooper fan. That is probably when the fandom was at its height. Fan art, AMVs (VGMVs?), even strange videos where the creator would take footage from the earlier games and combine it with on-screen text to create in-motion fan fiction. Little did we know that the leak about Sly coming to the PSP was real. Well, maybe we all hoped it was real at the time, but nothing ever came of it. Vigil games was in the early stages of designing a sequel to Sly 3 that would take place in many eras of the past, using Bentley's hints at the development of a time machine as its basis. Sadly, the game was canceled nearly as quickly as it started.
2010. November. The Sly Collection released. All three PS2 games on PS3 in high definition with trophy support. Enough to satisfy the fans? Sure. But there was more. Get 100% in all three games (which included doing the Master Thief Sprints in the first game; challenges that had no reward in disc version of The Sly Collection) and you unlocked a video. We all remember it. Feudal Japan. Lush green grass. A clue bottle bobbing in the distance. And what is that? A life up?
Sly 4! ... ? It took seven or so months, but we got an official trailer at E3 2011. It was actually happening. A continuation of the story on the PS3. Sly and Bentley were in. And so was Dimitri. And Dimitri had a cane?
The speculation was rampant. By this time I had become a member of the Sucker Punch forums (actually, I became a member on May 26, 2009; the day of inFAMOUS' release) and they were buzzing. E3 2011 continued and we got gameplay. A boss fight against a tiger called "El Jefe," and everything looked... strange. Turns out it was a shader issue of some description that was turning Sly into a walking fuzzball and his cane into a white, glowing, almost fantasy-like device.
Time passed, trailers released, gameplay was shown off, the shader issue was fixed and in March of 2012 I joined the Sly Cooper Wiki. I've been here ever since, moving up in the ranks from lowly noob-editor to moderator to administrator to finally bureaucrat. Along the way, Thieves in Time (a name that was either taken from a fan, or an extreme coincidence) was released, it was pretty good, it was alright, it's not my favorite, it's my least favorite, it's (and this is kind of harsh, so shield your eyes now) a pretty bad Sly Cooper game. It's a decent game with bad dialogue, but it's a pretty bad Sly Cooper game with bad dialogue. Where had the charm gone? Why were fat jokes being made about Murray all the time? Why was Sly such a marshmallow? Why was Carmelita dressed like that? Where were the themes of friendship, despair, revenge, hopelessness, helplessness...? Where was the good writing? The coherent story? The great villains? The tragedy (Shakespearean)? The comedy (also Shakespearean)? Where was Dimitri? Where was Penelope (and I mean the real Penelope, not this shell with the same voice)?
Where was Sly?
A movie announcement came. The release window passed. And now a TV series has been announced. Am I excited? Yes, of course. But am I sure that they won't mess it up? No. It will take a lot of work from a lot of people to make the Sly Cooper TV series what it needs to be: good writers, good animators, good marketing, good fan support. With all of that, the series could be great. Without any single part, the series (TV and as a whole) could go the way of the dodo.
I want Sly to get out of Egypt. I want to play as a Cooper again. Happy 15th anniversary, everybody.