Though companies have been producing games based on various forms of the Lupin the Third anime series for many years now, Bandai and Banpresto's Lupin the Third: Treasure of the Sorcerer King is the first console-based Lupin game to garner a US release, which is most likely due to the popularity of the Lupin TV series' recent run on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block. Treasure of the Sorcerer King is primarily a stealth action game, and it draws numerous influences from popular stealth games, such as Metal Gear Solid. Beyond a similar use of lengthy cutscenes, simple inspiration is pretty much where the comparisons between the two games end. In fact, there's really not very much to praise about Lupin the Third, due in no small part to some rather badly implemented enemy artificial intelligence, an equally unfortunate control scheme, and some generally lacking production values.
Lupin and his posse make a rather inauspicious debut on US gaming platforms in Treasure of the Sorcerer King.
If you're unfamiliar with the series, Lupin the Third refers to the show's title character, a world renowned thief and master of disguise who engages in frequent misadventures with his ragtag crew, while concordantly trying to outwit his less-than-astute law enforcement nemesis, Inspector Zenigata. In Treasure of the Sorcerer King, you primarily play as Lupin, though you also have the occasional chance to play as other members of Lupin's posse, including his right-hand man Daisuke Jigen and master swordsman Goemon Ishikawa. Lupin regular Fujiko Mine, the ever-tantalizing half-thief, half-spy also makes an appearance as well. The actual story of the game has Lupin and crew tracking a pair of valuable pitchers, which will ultimately lead them to a massive fortune that's buried within an ancient castle. The plot itself sticks pretty faithfully to the style of the anime series and ultimately does it justice. This, unfortunately, is about the only real positive aspect to Treasure of the Sorcerer King.
As said before, Lupin the Third is primarily based on stealth action--and a pretty generic variety of it as well. Since Lupin is a master of disguise, a big part of the gameplay revolves around Lupin dressing up in various costumes, which range from that of a simple police officer to Inspector Zenigata himself. However, the costume itself is far from enough to convince most of the game's patrolling enemies. To avoid suspicion, you will frequently have to use the R1 button to perform a specific action, like executing a policeman's salute, to stave off discovery. Unfortunately, even this often isn't enough to keep enemies from discovering you, thanks to a somewhat strange and awkward meter that tracks Lupin's mind state. If an enemy comes too close to discovering Lupin's identity, or, in fact, he is discovered, Lupin's mind becomes "disrupted," thus leaving him even more open to discovery until he goes to cool off for a while. However, he can't cool off while he's in costume, which means that you'll have to go back to Lupin's regular outfit during this time. Fortunately, Lupin can hide himself behind and within certain objects, and doing so does manage to keep you concealed for as long as you need.
While all of this might sound a little difficult, it actually isn't. This is mostly due to some pretty lackluster enemy AI. Regardless of their uncanny abilities to discover Lupin, no matter how disguised he is, enemies are as dumb as dumb can be. They'll pretty much just rush at your character while swinging their clubs or shooting their guns, so a simple dodge move will pretty much keep you from getting hit in nearly every situation, even when multiple enemies are attacking. Additionally, your character's combat techniques are insanely rudimentary--or, at least, they would be if it weren't for the awful control scheme.