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Sly Cooper Thieves in Time 1

The 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has come and gone, and now, gamers should start considering just how amazing the upcoming nine to 12 months of game releases will be.

Soon, we will see a brand-spanking-new console by way of the Nintendo Wii U and a new Halo game that looks to finally up the series' graphical ante.

And the more I hear about Dishonored, the more October 9 can't seem to come soon enough.

But what really got me pumped while walking around E3 this year was the return of a familiar, vulpine hero in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. 

On the PlayStation Vita.


Although the franchise’s original developer, Sucker Punch Productions, is not working on the release, it looks like the game is in more-than-capable hands with Sanzaru Games. 

Thieves in Time matches the work Sanzaru did with last year’s excellently remastered Sly Collection for the PlayStation 3. The platforming is as tight as I remember it, and the characters pop off the screen in all their cel-shaded goodness.

The two levels I played demonstrated that Sanzaru gets the vibe of the PlayStation 2 titles and will continue the lighthearted sense of adventure the series is known for. The studio, of course, added in a few wrinkles, like costume-specific abilities, to vary up the gameplay, mission to mission.

Gameplay-wise, both the PS3 and Vita versions seemed to run identically to each other based on my experience.

That said, the only edition I really care about is the Vita one. 

When Sanzaru announced that an identical Vita copy of the game would arrive with the PS3 version, the news didn't seem to cause much of a stir amongst online forum dwellers. But it was nothing short of magic for me.

Maybe the Sly Cooper franchise isn't mainstream enough to generate buzz for console-handheld parity, but it highlights a great future, in my opinion, for the Vita system going forward.

Sly Cooper Thieves in Time 2

Perhaps all these (cue old man voice) youngsters take their universal iPad/iPhone iOS apps for granted nowadays, but it was not so long ago that Nintendo undercut handhelds when compared to consoles of the 8- and 16-bit era.

Nintendo taught us that handhelds always get the short shrift. They were made only powerful enough to run alternative versions of games you really wanted to play like Super Metroid or Super Mario Bros. 3.

More than 20 years later, the Vita shows no sign of that mantra repeating. Sony's decision to make the Ferrari of portable hardware should be admired — regardless of the business sense in the current App Store-flavored economy. 

I played Sine Mora, Jet Set Radio, Retro City Rampage, and Thieves in Time on the Vita just as I would play them on my big screen at home. And I had the added benefit of being able to play them on the go whenever I want — with no load times and the ability to suspend games at any point. 

Sure, we've already had console ports on the Vita with the likes of Rayman Origins, Mortal Kombat, and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, but those titles were either graphically inferior or were delayed releases serving as schedule-gap fillers.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is not being treated as a secondary thought to the PS3 version. It's the main event — just as the planned PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale port will be when that launches.

People scoff at the notion of playing big-budget titles on a small screen when they have amazing entertainment setups at home, but considering all the time I spend away from home, the perfect entertainment setup for me is on the go with Vita.

And it's the only way I'll be playing through the latest Sly Cooper adventure when it hits this fall.