Comebacks of the little heroes

Comebacks of the little heroes

Ghost Hunter and Ghost Hunted (artwork)

"Luigi’s Mansion 2" for the 3DS and "Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time" for the PS3 and PS Vita

"Luigi’s Mansion" from Nintendo was a launch title on the GameCube in 2002. Fans of the charming action-adventure game had to wait over 10 years for the successor, which has now been released for the 3DS. Sony’s cheeky Jump-And-Run hero "Sly Cooper" was already dead, because the developers of Sucker Punch were completely devoted to the "Infamous"-games dedicated. Its comeback after eight years is thanks to Sanzaru Games, which previously ported the PS2 trilogy as HD versions to the PS3. Despite the long break Luigi and Sly look pleasantly fresh.

Ghost hunting in Grun

With Luigi’s Mansion Nintendo showed what the GameCube was technically capable of. The ghostly play with light and shadow provided the perfect setting for it. The story was already simple back then: Luigi has to free Mario from a Gesitervilla. Armed with the vacuum cleaner fright path 08/16 he catches the ghosts to solve the haunting and redeem his brother. The concept is reminiscent of the "Ghostbusters"-Movies. Luigi is always alternating between hunted and hunter: the ghosts attack him, but as soon as he blinds them with his flashlight, he can suck them in. Once he has them under control with the fright way, he has to pull them in like with a fishing rod and resist their escape movements.

The spooky events are actually long forgotten in the new game. The world could be so peaceful: Professor I. Gidd, who at the time supported Luigi’s search and developed the technical tools for ghost hunting, investigates the peaceful ghosts of the surroundings. This does not suit the evil ghost king King Boo and he destroys the dark moon, whereupon the ghosts run amok and I. Gidd has to escape from his laboratory. But of course he has a grandiose idea how to restore peace: Luigi must recover the pieces of the moon. Finally, Mario’s brother is an experienced ghost hunter thanks to his almost forgotten trip to the mansion.

So much for the framing story; the story is as incidental to Luigi’s Mansion 2 as it is to the procedural and the numerous "Mario"-Games. The professor sends Luigi to the mansions with a teleporter for individual missions. First of all he has to secure the equipment left behind there. In the process he meets the first ghosts, which are initially more burdensome than dangerous. Thus he learns incidentally the handling of the improved fright way 09/15 in the interplay with the blinding flashlight.

Ghost hunting with flashlight and vacuum cleaner

The vacuum cleaner helps but not only in the ghost hunt, but Luigi also spurts numerous hidden treasures and secrets, by sucking, for example, curtains and cobwebs or ceiling fans in motion. Also there are already in the first mansion some puzzles. "Luigi’s Mansion 2" is clearly more ratsellast than the Vorganger. The tasks are not as complex as in typical point-and-click adventures, but often Mario’s brother seems to be at a dead end, from which he can only get out with a little combination with.

Comebacks of the little heroes

The vacuum cleaner also takes tablecloths

An interesting addition is the Dark Lamp, which Luigi uses to uncover illusion hauntings that cause some items to seemingly disappear. If, for example, a mat is lying in front of a smooth wall, it is likely that the spirits have hidden the door from the human eye. Luigi can uncover the haunting and suck up the culprits.

In addition to the puzzles that Luigi completes to complete the missions, he lost others to reach numerous hidden treasures and collectibles. With the gold found the player upgrades the scare path. However, he does not have the choice of different improvements, as in other games, but receives a predetermined upgrade each time when a certain amount is reached.

Comebacks of the little heroes

While vacuuming the cobwebs, Luigi stumbles across a slightly rougher spider

At the end of each mansion there is a boss waiting before Luigi can take the respective dark piece. These battles are multi-level and much more interesting than in the first part. But also the normal enemies offer some variety: Some wear sunglasses, which protect them from the flashlight, others hide in drawers or behind objects, which they use as weapons at the same time. Again and again Luigi faces different ghosts at the same time, so he has to change tactics quickly. Rounding out the solo game is a multiplayer mode in which four hunters battle their way through a ghost tower locally or online in four different modes and three difficulty levels.

Graphically "Luigi’s Mansion 2" a real treat and makes impressive use of the 3D representation of Nintendo’s handheld. Many 3D games have impressive backgrounds, but the characters often look flat or angular. Transparent minds do not have this problem, because they remain schemes anyway. Thanks to a largely predetermined perspective, the depth perception is also permanently correct. However, when using the motion sensor to look around in some rooms, the right viewing angle for the 3D effect occasionally slips in the heat of the moment. The soundscape is a delight: the music builds on the action and Luigi’s angsty whistling and breathing add just the right amount of charm.

The comeback is more than successful: "Luigi’s Mansion 2" is much more varied and interesting than the Vorganger, which by the standards of the time was visually dazzling, but in terms of gameplay could not compete with the Mario games. Luigi doesn’t need to hide behind his gross brother with his new appearance in the spirit world: The developers of Next Level Games have succeeded in creating a great action-adventure game that is one of the most original titles for the 3DS. Who needs a deep story when ghost hunting has so much attention to detail and simply offers good gaming. Nintendo’s home console Wii U, whose buyers are still waiting for an outstanding exclusive title, urgently needs a game of this caliber.

Time travel among thieves

"Sly Racoon" belonged with Ratchet Clank and Jak Daxter to Sony’s rough Jump-And-Run series on the PS2. A genre that was quite prominently represented on the first two Playstation generations. The "Sly"-developers from Sucker Punch Productions, however, devoted themselves entirely to PS3 "Infamous"-Games (vg. 34943), making another game about the sympathetic thief Sly and his friends the homely, powerful hippo Murray and the intelligent shield-red Bentley improbable. Jump-And-Run fans are served much weaker on the PS3 than on the PS2: The "Jak Daxter"-Team Naughty Dog developed the "Uncharted"-Series and "Ratchet Clank" continue to exist, but became much more action-oriented from game to game, moving further and further away from the platformer genre.

Comebacks of the little heroes

Sly Racoon is back

In the wake of Sony’s HD conversions from the second to the third generations of consoles, all three original series have been brought to the PS3 with a graphical makeover. The port of the "Sly"-Trilogy was taken over by Sanzaru Games, who wanted to develop the series anyway. So Sony finally gave them the order for a fresh game about the washable Sly, which has now appeared with Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.

The story is just as side-splitting as Luigi’s Ghost Hunt and far more convoluted. In terms of content, the new title picks up where the trilogy ended: back then, Sly traded amnesia to be with his beloved antagonist, the policewoman Carmelita. This perfect world is now disrupted, however, when the pages of the famous Cooper clan chronicle suddenly disappear one by one, because the history apparently changes. It’s a good thing Bentley is researching time travel anyway. So the friends set off on a journey into the past in Murray’s minibus, which has been converted into a time machine.

Comebacks of the little heroes

Sly Racoon, avenger of the disinherited

The story serves mainly as a hook for the individual settings, which take the trio to the Ice Age and the Wild West, for example. In each epoch they meet a washable ancestor, whom they have to free from the captivity of a villain. Many ancestors and enemies are references to the original trilogy. The fact that the ubeltaters are also time travelers and Carmelita also visits the past leads the content into total absurdity, so that here, too, the rule is: forget the story and plunge into the videogame!

Each era has an open area that mainly Sly explores, but occasionally the friends do too. Sony’s game is also divided into missions, which start from the respective base. In the beginning, the thief usually has to explore the surroundings and, for example, take photos of a fortress. In the process, he should remain undetected as much as possible – as in the trilogy, there are also hints of stealth games here: the player must observe guards and alarm systems in order to recognize patterns and bypass them.

Comebacks of the little heroes


In addition to the two dangers, Sly’s ancestors become playable characters after their release, with special abilities and their own variants of the Cooper staff that every wash bar thief carries. For example "Tennesse Kid" Cooper converted the plug to a pistol. In one mission, he has to surf over rails while protecting a stagecoach that is attacked by enemies in the distance and threatened by explosions and falling rocks.

In each era Sly finds a costume that gives him special abilities. With one he becomes an archer, with another a leaping saber-toothed tiger. At the end of each scenario the respective villain awaits as a boss opponent. The multilevel boss fights require switching between Sly’s normal abilities and the costumes. The basic principle of the boss fights is interesting, but the stages are too similar – often only the attack pattern becomes more difficult, but Sly has to react with the same counters.

Comebacks of the little heroes

Quick costume changes are the key in most boss fights

The open levels are not only much rougher than in earlier Sly games, but some of them have several levels. A good knowledge of the environment helps to reach the goal undetected. At the same time, the player should definitely deviate from the given path, because in each era the trio finds numerous hidden treasures and collectibles. Also, Sly gets to sneak up on almost all opponents from behind and pick their pockets. The "deserved" The player invests gold in additional skills for the playable characters.

As in many videogames, the player who wants to collect all the treasures must return to earlier scenarios, as Sly lacks the appropriate costumes and skills the first time around. Exploration is one of the great strengths of "Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time".

Comebacks of the little heroes

Cracking the security systems is done as a retro 2D game

The controls are very easy to use: sneaking and jumping are just as precise as aiming while pushing. The player decides by pressing a button whether to land on a rail and surf there, for example, or to skip it. However, there are occasional intermittent camera problems in indoor areas. Also, some passages that rely on the already not very precise motion controls of the six-axis controller interrupt the game flow. The graphics are on the level of the PS2 ports and occasionally look a bit angular, but the characters are well fleshed out and have character.

Sanzuru Games has succeeded in creating a worthy fourth part of the Sly series. They remain faithful to the roots of the series – perhaps more than Sucker Punch Productions did themselves. The old developers praise the successor on Twitter with the sentence, "Hope all enjoy it as much as we did…"

"Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time" is a really good 3D jump-and-run that doesn’t quite reach the gameplay feeling of the old series and also lags behind Nintendo’s Mario 3D platformers. However, these are all very high benchmarks. Anyone who misses decent three-dimensional jump-and-runs on Sony’s current console can get it without hesitation. By the way, the game runs on PS3 and PS Vita; if you buy one version, you can install both. Thanks to cloud storage of game data, a player can switch seamlessly between both platforms.

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