Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Review

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A gem worth discovering.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Platform: Wii U
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is based off the unexpected and entertaining Captain Toad levels featured in Super Mario 3D World. It is also the first time the character Toad has featured in his own game and is set for release in Australia very early in 2015.

In Treasure Tracker, you play as Toad (and later Toadette) in levels built on a 3D platform that can be rotated. Unlike in 3D World, you have to collect a single star to end the level. Most levels have three collectable diamonds and a bonus objective is revealed after the first time you complete the level. It is often possible to do everything in one go but it will usually be necessary to play each level twice, if only to learn the stage thoroughly. For example, some levels have blocks that can be moved with touchscreen on the gamepad and the bonus objective is usually a set number of moves before finishing. It is not possible to get all the diamonds and achieve that same objective in one play. It also usually takes a bit of practice. And perhaps most importantly: you can’t jump! Toad can only pick up items and walk so using different objects within the environment is necessary for success.

All the main levels end by collecting the star but the path there differs stage to stage. Some levels have platforms that need to be manipulated; some have scenery that can be modified with switches and levers. Most have enemies of some description whether goombas, shy guys or kameks. There are stages where timing is critical and others where a slow and steady pace is necessary. While plenty have similar puzzles to solve, they are spread out and mixed up in such a way that almost each one feels distinct.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is designed very much with the gamepad in mind. It is necessary for many levels and often preferable. The camera is moved by moving the gamepad (though it can also be controlled with the right stick), and the touch screen is used in many levels to manipulate objects in the game world. There are also canons and mine cart levels where the gamepad screen goes into first-person, creating a mini shooting gallery. With all of this, it is often preferable to focus on the second screen and I found myself doing this even when I was in front of my television display. If you aren’t a fan of the gamepad display, this may be an issue but the vast majority of the game can still be played with a focus on the main screen.

The visual design, sound effects and music are directly from Super Mario 3D World and will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played the game. This means the game is bright, colourful and the soundtrack is just as catchy. I also experienced no slow-down, screen-tearing or any visual anomalies while playing the game. The character animations and expressions are as cute and appealing as ever, as is the limited but humorous voice work.

Treasure Tracker is played out episodically with a simple, unspoken plot about Toad or Toadette being captured by a giant bird. Despite the promise of 70 plus levels on the back cover, it initially looked like the game would be over quickly, but every time I thought it was done, a whole new set of levels unlocked for me. It was disappointing to see the same boss fights recycled multiple times but as stated, most of the levels feel distinct from each other or at least use similar ideas in different ways. The only real issue is with the difficulty, as there are very few head-scratchers to be found throughout the main quest. This isn’t to say it isn’t fun to play but perhaps only just challenging enough to keep the player engaged until the end.

For those concerned about the length of the game, my play-time clocked in at roughly 15 hours when I account for time when the game was left idle. I did not quite complete everything in that time but the main story episodes were all completed and only a handful of bonus levels remained. There isn’t much reason to replay levels once they are completed and the bonus stages I played are mostly remixed versions of levels in the main game. Most of these are quite inventive and more challenging but they won’t extend the game by much. That all said, I feel the time spent and the content present, is well worth the price.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was pretty much exactly what I expected to be. That is a brief but engaging single-player experience with the classic Nintendo charm. It isn’t too difficult and it won’t last a long time but it is fun the whole way there. If you found yourself smiling at the trailers and gameplay videos, you’ll likely enjoy playing it.

4 Stars

This review is based off the Japanese version of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (進め! キノピオ隊長 – Advance! Captain Kinopio) and as such some names and other small changes may differ in the English edition.

November, 2014

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