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Sneaky, Sneaky

God, I love sneaking up behind people and doing illegal things to them.

Not in real life, of course. I get paranoid just walking behind a stranger on the street who happens to be walking at the same speed I am. I also don’t particularly like the idea of getting caught and spending an extended period of time in jail where I have to make friends with a man named Jimmy Knuckles. It’s just so much hassle that it’s best not to try.

No, of course, I am referring to my love of being able to sneak up on people in video games. Screw up sneaking up on someone in a video game and you either restart or you have to run away and hide in a locker/hay bale/barrel until the guards get bored and return to their posts, which doesn’t typically happen in real life. If someone wishes to test this out, please feel free (please don’t feel free, I don’t want you getting in trouble).

Lately I’ve been playing quite a bit of Sly Cooper, specifically the new game, Thieves In Time. Sly is a great franchise for sneaking shenanigans, partially because all attempts at sneaking are accompanied by cartoon sound effects, which just emphasise just how hard you’re sneaking. You can be casually wandering around until you come within a few feet of a guard, prompting some invisible musician to start plucking strings on a double bass somewhere letting you know that you are a master sneaker.

It’s also made fun by the fact that sneaking is remarkably easy in the Sly Cooper franchise. It’s not difficult to feel like a master sneaker when all the guards in the vicinity suffer from severe astigmatism and are unable to see you beyond the range of their torch beams (flashlight beams, if you will). You can be standing right next to a guard, all up in his business, but he won’t be able to see the thief in a bright blue shirt and sporting a large stripy tail as long as said thief doesn’t wander into a specially marked circle on the floor. Clearly it’s a very important circle of floor.

But Sly Cooper offers the ability to pickpocket enemies, and that’s where the enjoyment kicks in, as Sly moves into double-bass-crab-walk mode when he comes within a certain radius of a guard, and you can just use his specially shaped cane to merely lift money out of their pockets. You can do it to practically anyone in the series since the second game, and in fact you’re actively told to do it in certain missions to obtain keys. Pickpocketing also allows you to earn money to buy new abilities on the black market (aka the Internet).

Now here’s where things get silly. The reason why it’s so easy to pickpocket is because everyone in the game, and I mean everyone, has a single oversized pocket where they store everything, and it’s always conveniently on their waist. If it has anything especially valuable in it, it even sparkles to let you know. It’s a thief’s dream to encounter this kind of poor security storage, and no one ever figures out that their belongings are constantly going missing because of their clown pockets.

It gets especially silly when you have to pickpocket keys from the Contessa in the second game, since the Contessa is a large spider woman. Not a metaphorical spider woman, but an actual oversized black widow in a dress. The large oversized pocket looks especially strange on a large spider abdomen, and it’s hard not to giggle every time you steal a key from her, which happens three times.

It’s not just the pockets that are silly, but also what’s in them. Coins are absolutely fine, and keys make perfect sense, but it’s the additional treasures you can pull out that make things ridiculous. Some guards carry around fancy fountain pens, which are an acceptable thing to carry around in your pockets, but then when you start digging out large precious gems and gold nuggets, it’s time to start asking questions.

But still, pickpocketing is a hugely satisfying activity and I could do it for hours. It’s the same satisfaction I feel in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, except there I’m not stealing precious gems from the pockets of guards, I’m stealing the guards’ lives by stabbing them in the throat. It probably says something concerning about the level of enjoyment a game can bring by allowing you to stealthily stab people in the throat, but I’m not here to pass social commentary, I’m here to make silly comments about video games.

It’s possible to do something similar in the Metal Gear series too, where you can point a gun at a guard and make him do silly dances, but I’ve never been very good at doing that so it provides less satisfaction for me.

But it is my opinion that all games should not only allow you sneak up behind people and do illegal things to them but actively encourage that kind of behaviour. Imagine the Legend Of Zelda series if you could just sneak up behind Ganondorf and steal his belt or instantly seal him in Dimension X for eternity. OK, the game would be shorter, but it’d be fun, right?

So there we go. I like sneaking up behind people and doing illegal things to them. It’s fun. You should try it sometime.

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