I'm of the opinion that most people are idiots.
Because most people are going to breeze right by this game. They're on their way to buy NBA Offroad Hunter 4x4 2001 or whatever insta-game garbage that's already filling the burgeoning PS2 racks. These are the same gameurs who ignored Klonoa PSX, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and No One Can Stop Mr. Domino. Maybe it's because of the cutsey animal mascots.
I implore you to grab this game. If you're too busy playing The Bouncer or GT3 right now, then wait until Adventures of Cookie and Cream hits a price drop. And one more thing: you're going to need a friend. Adventures of Cookie and Cream is the first game I've ever played that demands you bring a buddy. Yes, lots of games have tacked-on multiplayer modes these days... and sports games tend to run either with or without. But this game - like Toe Jam and Earl a decade ago - requires two players. It's two player cooperative and I CAN'T APPLAUD IT HIGHLY ENOUGH.
But if you couldn't care less about multiplayer games that don't involve pinning your friends to the wall with a rail gun, go ahead and click out of here. I'm about to moon and gush over a great game that you've been avoiding because it has two easter bunnies on the cover.
Backstory. A typically engimatic japanese plot: the rabbit clan can't hold their annual Moon Festival because the moon is gone; a pair of chicken guardians enlist Cookie (male rabbit) and Cream (female rabbit) on the mission to return the moon. The path to the moon is divided into several kingdoms, each composed of 4 linear arcade levels and one boss fight. The levels are all top-down, almost platform-style adventures. You'll be thrust into jumping puzzles, some average baddie-busting, all at a nonstop hustle since each level is timed. Each rabbit has its own path per level; the screen is divided in half longways. It may look like a race to the finish, but it's not. Both rabbits have to finish to beat the level, and you have to work together to get each other to the goal. And you have to always keep moving. If you put it in park while you're waiting for your other half to catch up, an super-annoying baddie will swoop in and steal time from you as a punishment.
The early cooperative elements are obvious. Cookie comes to a raised bridge and the button to lower it is on Cream's side. Or Cream is stuck at a dead end until Cookie puts a sliding panel puzzle in order. Many of the harder levels require some extremely fancy timing between you and your pal... you'll be either gleefully congratulating each other or shouting derisions as your partner muffs a move and loses the level. Most of the really obtuse puzzles have a hint chicken nearby... talk to your chicken a couple of times to get the most out of him.
Once the game has settled you in (you'll be asking each other... "How are you doing? Can you make that jump or is there a button I have to press?"), it neatly crosses the invisible barrier with some unexpected path crossovers, some vehicle based runs (love the waterskiiing bit!), and a bunch of great boss fights.
The bosses usually have some unexplained trick to them and it may require quite a few attempts to figure it out. They may start out very frustrating, but they are quite doable once you know the secret. I swore quite a bit at them. "What the hell? We're not doing any damage. What are we supposed to do... this is really pis - oh. That's what you have to do. Freak." The level of cooperation required to defeat the bosses and progress through the rounds makes the game amazingly fun; I enjoy playing games where you actually have to talk strategy with your teammate as you go.
Compared to the super-smooth Crash Bandicoot style of platforming, Cookie and Cream move awkwardly. They don't have the precision I would've liked and their double jumps are slow. Some of the trick trigger points are very small and your bunny may occasionally have difficulty finding it... if the loose controls keep your rabbit circling, you're going to keep missing the critical action button hotspot. I have a small issue with that, since the trigger points are essential to locate and use as quickly as possible. The game does use a nifty zoom-in feature to help you out in tight quarters. I suggest using the zoom on those perspective-based jumping chains. The zoom is a nice display of PS2 power at work, too. Makes a cool blur effect for the nanosecond it takes to magnify.
Speaking of graphics, the cutscenes are beautiful. Crisp clear movies that herald the kind of quality we're starting to get from the next-gen PlayStation. Also of note is the audio, which offers up some surprisingly hardcore music and a never ending fountain of japanese rabbit babble.
Extras. Although it's not primarily an item collecting game, there are some secret "gift" items hidden throughout the worlds. When you grab them, they show up on the game's title screen, turning a normally boring main menu into a living trophy case. There is an oddball 4 player feature as well, where a group of characters race up the screen collecting (and stealing) moon points. It's an average attempt at a 4 player mode, but at least it's not some crazy split screen like most multiplayer console games. The extra characters for the 4 player game are gradually unlocked by another set of hidden items in the regular game worlds.
So why aren't there more co-op games like this? Because, for most people, video games are a solo experience. Releasing a game that REQUIRES two people is a low-sale risk (particularly if there's pastel bunnies on it and it's not a Nintendo game.) Another risk is that this game needs some solid gaming skills; the upper levels are not for casual players. And don't believe the press that says you can play this game by yourself. You'd have to be an ambidextrous, independant-brained Mensa genius to control both rabbits simultaneously. Or a Siamese twin.
Like the Mario Party series, Adventures of Cookie and Cream has the potential to be a dorm room hit. It's also a great game to break away from the common first person shooter split screen doldrums. If you have any friends savvy on your PS2, give yourself an early birthday present with Cookie and Cream.