'Sly Cooper' a charming game for kids


This year, political opportunists have tried to turn video games into the scapegoat for humankind’s violent tendencies.

To those of us gamers who value a healthy prefrontal cortex, that seems like an obfuscating stretch.

But let’s assume such politicos have a point: That children parrot everything they see in a video game.

If that is true, then let’s imagine what kids will do in real life after they play “Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.”

In this game, you portray the cute little raccoon character Sly, a talking cartoon of the Bugs Bunny variety.

Sly is a master thief who breaks into museums and steals stuff from evil people to repair the world. So I guess we can all assume children who play this game will finally want to visit museums, although only to steal stuff for a cause.

Sly has a wry friend named Bentley, who is wheelchair-bound, truly a rare physical disposition for a game hero. Bentley’s wheelchair flies for brief amounts of time, an aspirational quality.

At times, you play this game as wheelchair-bound Bentley, as he breaks into secret lairs and throws bombs at evil guards, who go “poof” and disappear into the air. So kids will obviously start bombing guards in secret lairs.

And Sly has another friend, a portly, goofy giant named Murray, who sometimes goes fishing . So kids will start fishing. How malevolent.

Often, this game wants you to take photos of guards — or to run from guards — instead of hurting them. So kids will nefariously want to start taking photos of guards and then running from them.

Actually, the game prefers that you pick guards’ pockets (many are lazy cranes) instead of hurting them, so in real life, kids will start picking lazy cranes’ pockets instead of hurting them.

On the one hand, anyone who isn’t a willful Neanderthal may find this big, charming game to be a treat — a comical, animated tale of friends who time-travel to stop a really bad guy from doing bad things.

On the other hand, I don’t enjoy how slowly some actions happen. When I bang on a garbage can to find gold coins, for instance, I have to wait for the gold coins to appear, and then I must run over to the coins to collect them. Those coins should automatically zip into my pocket, because waiting is no fun.

And I don’t totally enjoy the jumping system. When I jump onto landing points, the game forces me to watch an animation that’s too slow.

But those are quibbles in this delightful distraction, which is especially suitable for preteens and for teens who are nostalgic for their preteen years.

On the third hand, perhaps you are that person who proclaims video games are the devil, in which case you will find this game more objectionable than actual violence in the real world, because you are an out-of-touch, unglued, scapegoating nincompoop.

(“Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time” by Sony retails for $40 for PS 3; $30 for Vita — Plays fun. Looks cute. Moderately easy. Rated “E 10+” for alcohol reference, cartoon violence, suggestive themes, use of tobacco. Three and one-half stars out of four.)

Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@review journal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.