Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a spin-off game from Super Mario 3D World. The eponymous Captain Toad and his faithful companion, Toadette, are out seeking treasure, and it’s your job to help them get it. What makes the game different from your standard platformer is that Captain Toad cannot jump, and he’s not very fast either. I help the Captain of the Toad Brigade on his adventure, and try to view the world from a different angle to review this game.
Those of you who played Super Mario 3D World will remember both having to find Captain Toad throughout the levels, and also to guide him through certain small worlds to obtain star coins. The mini-game has been expanded into a full adventure for Captain Toad, along with new antagonists (as well as some old ones). The game is presented as a series of books, each page being one level of the adventure. Story is minimal, really, and sees you playing as Captain Toad and Toadette seeking treasure. At the start of each book, Toad or Toadette is abducted by Wingo, a giant(?) bird. As mentioned, Toad can’t jump (because of his heavy backpack, natch), and removing that one core mechanic of the platform genre changes the nature of the game entirely. And you know what? It works. By golly, it works well.
To navigate around the world, you rotate the entire world using the left stick (or the motion sensor of the Wii U GamePad), and by rotating the world you can guide Toad through portions of the levels that are otherwise hidden from view. Each stage has three treasures to collect, as well as the final star that ends each level. On top of that, there are also optional objectives that are only made clear once you’ve completed the level at least one time. The game’s many levels are broken up by the occasional boss fight and the occasional mine cart level, the latter of which takes your eyes off the TV and uses the GamePad as a first-person camera with built-in cannon. These levels are glorious, if regrettably short.
The best part of this game is honestly the entire exploration angle, and it’s the kind of game that will keep completionists up. It’s often all too easy to simply aim for getting the star at the end. The real challenge is completing every stage properly, with gems and bonus objectives intact. This ties into the exploration bit, because often you won’t get all the gems without first getting a thorough treading through of the level, especially later in the game.
Nintendo has a habit of making the most wondrous first-party games, and Treasure Tracker is no different. I could find very little to fault with the game. In fact, the game rewards you for owning Super Mario 3D World by giving you a whole stack of bonus stages to play, provided you’ve collected enough gems (Ed: There’s always a catch, isn’t there?). That’s not to say there aren’t downsides, because there are. Because the levels are presented as a book, trying to find those levels you haven’t completed properly means paging through each book to find those levels without stamps. It gets a little frustrating. Furthermore, a tap on each page turns it: you have to press A to start the stage, which I found horribly counter-intuitive. At 70 stages (and a few more if you owned Super Mario 3D World), it’s still a little pricey, but on the flip side, it’s a really solid puzzle platform game, so you really do get your money’s worth.
Thing is, Captain Toad and Toadette are so brilliantly underpowered that you can’t help but cheer them on, and it’s a treat to see Nintendo breaking away from its reliance on Mario/DK/ Link as major protagonists. I, for one, welcome our new, toadstool-shaped overlords, no matter how timid they are. All glory to the Captain Toad!
Final Score: 8.5 hidden prawns out of 10
Distributor: Nintendo South Africa
Platform: Nintendo Wii U
Age Rating: Everyone