When Nintendo released Super Mario 3D World, there was a bit of a side-quest/diversion found within the game in the form of little 3-dimensional dioramas which featured our good friend Toad. This pint-sized shroomed hero was clad in a flashlight cap and a large backpack. While great for keeping your tools and granola bars packed safe, this also weighed the little guy down. Still, he persevered and helped Mario rescue the fairies and defeat Bowser nonetheless.
Little did the Nintendo-community realize that while they played those mini-games, Nintendo was underway on a fun budget-title using the same lead character but in his own fleshed out world. In December 2014, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was born. The game is a highly focused and exceptionally fun title which is full of Toad and Toadette charm… because oh yes, Toadette is along for the ride.
The most adorable Besties in the Nintendo universe.
Lets start with the first thing you'll see, the presentation. The 'epic' Captain Toad theme booms through your Wii U gamepad's speakers as the main menu presents you with Episode 1. Later, other episodes would be open to gamers who would adventure hard enough. Each episode is filled with a handful of levels which progressively get more in-depth and challenging. I would argue though that the game reaches a plateau somewhere near the end of the first episode and barely rises for the rest of the game (until the bonus stages). I don't find this to be a detriment though as for me it shows the game ramps up as it teaches you the mechanics and then happily stays at a relaxing and fun pace. The books on the main menu will showcase stickers as you achieve some noteworthy milestones which help you know just how far you are in finishing the game 100%. I do find the main menu kind of bland but for what it's meant to do I suppose it's adequate. Choosing levels is a matter of flipping 'storybook' pages and ends up being a nice way to display your different challenges.
Adorable hand-drawn art is found on chapter headers.
The primary focus of the title is the gameplay. If you're going to enjoy adventuring with Captain Toad and Captain Toadette, you're going to need to like walking around at a moderately slow pace, exploring every nook and cranny, while not being able to jump or run too fast. These limitations sound bad on paper but really they are what make the game such a laid-back and fun experience. Despite the game is 3-dimensional, I find that the way the developers limit Captain Toad acts like how the 2-dimensional experience of older games limited things. When you take the Z-axis out of the equation you are much easier to hit and it takes much more precision to maneuver. Not that this is some bullet-hell game of course but it's just plain fun to be this little dude for all his strengths and weaknesses. The Z-axis isn't entirely gone though as you will walk up ramps, fall down pits, and use platforms to move yourself like elevators. You'll do this in a couple of ways, like water-shoot log rides, touch-screen moving platforms, and for better or worse… the blowing-mechanic is back for some platforms. I don't find it to be a big deal though, just a little awkward. It registers your blowing or even just touching the microphone hole pretty well, so it's never caused me to make an error.
A sample of one of the 70+ levels found in the game.
Just because you can't jump on enemies, that doesn't mean they're invincible. Toad and Toadette will pluck turnips (Super Mario Bros. 2 style) and fall on a well-timed baddie's head. Sometimes you can even use Bullet Bills against other enemies and sometimes you'll get to act like a Bullet Bill as you load into a cannon and shoot out turnips. These are all fun little mechanics but one that missed the mark with me was the mine cart version of this turnip shooter. These are found in a variety of levels but only a small handful. These levels are derived around entering a mine cart like you would in Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and from that point on you're a moving menace. The game takes you into a first person view on the gamepad which is essential because now you have to chuck turnips at bricks, POW blocks, enemies, and hopefully gems. It's okay but the mix of needing to use motion controls, the control-stick, and all while moving on-rails made for some less than smooth gaming. They aren't broken or anything but just a little cumbersome in my experience. The stages overall are an interesting mix of classic Mario themes we've seen all before and Captain Toad doesn't do anything to really stand out from this. Since the game doesn't limit you to a specific theme for a whole Episode, each level does feel fresh as you encounter them.
The music in the game is pretty good but nothing outstanding. I'm kind of disappointed they weren't a bit more memorable but I also ask a lot of video-game (especially Nintendo) music. I enjoyed the tunes as I worked through the levels but I won't be singing any to myself after the game is off that's for sure. The graphics are just like those in Super Mario 3D World, which means they're crisp, colorful, and beautiful. The camera allows you to see just about any angle you'd want to see so it works pretty well and shows off the stages splendidly. Occasionally it can be a little weird but usually that's easily remedied. Once or twice only did I perish due to a funky camera angle but then again I can change it, and I did.
This title was $40 MSRP new and that seemed about right. Every level is new, except for a handful which are technically old but they're not old experiences. I'll let you discover that for yourself. I think for the package, it's a solid title with a nice amount of content. They maybe could have made it more flashy but the developers were probably working on you know… the levels themselves! There's a good amount of variety here and I'm most charmed by the fact that Toad has his own game and his own time to shine. He was the main protagonist in Wario's Woods on the NES but I still wouldn't call him the title character of that game. Here he's front and center and I'm glad he had Toadette with him. It was really cool playing as both these little adventurers for the twenty-one and a half hours it took me to 100% the game. All in all this was a nice game for my Wii U collection and it's a great 'pick-up and play' title in bite-sized increments; something easy to find on the 3DS but nice to see on my Wii U. I hope you'll check it out too.
I haven't been able to test out and review the amiibo support that's coming this month. From what reports say, it will merely allow you to use your Toad amiibo once and then you'll unlock the ability to find little pixel-toad hidden somewhere on the walls in each stage. This functionality neither entices me nor affects my feelings towards the main game. It does somewhat negatively affect my views of what amiibo will do for Nintendo games but that's a whole-different post.
Good review! I also think that the easygoing pace of the gameplay works in the game's favor. Even though Captain Toad Treasure Tracker isn't particularly difficult, being put in a role where even a goomba can pose a threat was fun. The enemies that Mario & Luigi often face are so much bigger in their little shoes! The boss fights were particularly memorable because Captain Toad and Toadette are clearly outmatched by them. Despite being weak, those two characters have a lot of heart. I love their can-do attitudes and comical antics.
I still want to finish collecting those diamonds and check off all of the challenges. There's more to do in this game than I anticipated, so I feel like I got my money's worth as well.
I forgot to mention in the review that at times I wanted 'more complexity yet nothing to change at all' because while sometimes I could feel I wanted more, I was so content with the way they had things. It was a weird duality.
I also didn't really touch on the boss-fights too much but I was pretty proud of how they did handle them in the sense that there was certainly some massive scale despite the heroes' movesets were so limited in comparison to Mario and others.
I agree with this review. Such a great value. I have also been playing this game very sporadically, which doesn't mean it's bad. It just means for me that this game is easy to pick up and play after a hiatus. Which leads to a 2 or 3 hour play session.
That's exactly how I rated it. It was a fun romp from beginning to end, especially once the levels got bigger and the puzzles got a little more challenging. It never got overly complex, but it was always fun.
Nice review. Sounds like there's a little more to the game than it seemed, and I guess that's why they turned it into a retail release instead of just DLC. Are there new enemies and graphics and such or is all that reused from 3D World?
I've been waiting for a sale on this game but I haven't seen one yet. Maybe I should grab it before it goes out of print.
It's a fun little game, and I've really enjoyed playing through it... but I understand why most people wouldn't want to pay $40 for it in this day and age. Even something like Pushmo offered more for less. Hopefully Nintendo won't wait too long to reduce the price.