Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a bit of an odd departure for Nintendo. The Big N has always been a company known to deliver quality, but rarely have we seen the experimentation and risk-taking that they have been exhibiting lately with opening up their venerable franchises to new ideas. With Tomodachi Life, Hyrule Warriors, and now Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Nintendo has begun going down brand new roads that they haven’t since the days of their partnership with Square. Captain Toad is a full-length spin-off of the enjoyable minigame found in Super Mario 3D World, but does it have the chops to measure up to the rigorous standards that are a hallmark of Nintendo’s productions?
Like many Mario-related games, there’s not any complicated exposition here. The catalyst for Toad’s treasure romp is that after Toad and Toadette discover a treasure, a giant bird by the name of Wingo steals it from them. In an attempt to take the treasure back, Toadette is captured by the bird and the story begins. While the story may not be complicated or nuanced, it is important as this is the first game that is Toad-centric (unless you want to count Wario’s Woods.) While Toad has appeared in a multitude of Nintendo’s games since his debut in the original Super Mario Bros., he’s never quite held the spotlight. Players should have no fear though, as Toad shines as a likeable and unique main character, and it feels good to finally see our little friend who has spent his existence as second banana get a chance to be a hero.
The game consists of bite-sized levels in which the objective is to collect three gems and then touch the power star to end the level. But things don’t simply end there: each stage receives its own optional objective as well, which is usually the most difficult of them all. You won’t even have access to them until you finish the stage entirely, so you’ll have to return to each one if you want to see everything the game has to offer.
You’ll likely return plenty of times too, for puzzle-solving that turns things on its head while lending a relaxing effect to the various stages. Moving the camera is integral to level completion, as players will have to zoom in and out and flip the environment to solve various puzzles. The Wii U Gamepad is utilized masterfully here, integrating touchpad use to stun enemies, tap contextual icons on screen, and much more. Even the microphone is used during specific parts and it’s really great to see another game that makes such great use of the Wii U’s unique capabilities without resorting to gimmickry. There are also cool little minecart segments that are played in first-person and are a blast.
Unfortunately, the main levels are typically a rather short affair, and each will only take about 15-20 minutes to complete. Players won’t find a ton of challenge here, as none of them take too much thinking or many retries to complete. While this makes the game great for smaller bite-sized chunks of play, it also leaves you wanting more.
There is plenty of content with over 70 main levels and a smattering of bonus levels besides, which, for what is technically a budget title at $39.99, is a ton of gameplay. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker may be a bit on the short side, but it’s a whimsical and colorful affair that feels right at home on the Wii U. With upcoming Amiibo support and a wealth of content at a budget price, it’s a great addition to your puzzler library and an awesome spotlight title for good old Captain Toad.
– Plenty of mind-bending puzzles to complete.
– Lighthearted adventure featuring a lesser-used character.
– Budget pricing.
– Shorter title that won’t last for the long haul.
4 out of 5 burritos
This review was completed using a Wii U copy of Captain Toad Treasure Tracker provided by Nintendo. The game hit stores December 5, 2014 for the Wii U.