Review: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U)
One of the features that made Super Mario 3D World such an accolade was that it was accompanied by a number of well crafted minigames featuring the pint-sized adventurer, Captain Toad. These puzzle quests acted as a brief and compelling break from the much different platformer. These levels were clearly more popular than most would have imagined, leading to a fully fledged new title that escalates and remains true to the addictive, deceivingly challenging, adventure throughout the mushroom kingdom. In the new excursion Captain Toad, along with his partner in crime, Toadette explore a multitude of well crafted levels in search of elusive star sprites and other trinkets.
The adventure begins
The games introduction sees Captain Toad and Toadette searching for treasure in the form of a Star Sprite, the completion target for each mission. Upon collecting this relic they are attacked by an over-sized bird creature named Wingo who steals the Sprite and flies off with Toadette still clinging onto the Star. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker stands out for a several reasons. It combines the elements of the adventure and puzzle genres in a seamless manner and focuses on the absolute basics. In the past Nintendo have focused on the defining aspects of their ever influential (and profitable) leading characters. We’ve seen Mario’s fearful brother Luigi jump higher than any of this counterparts, the ever incarcerated Princess Peach float across great divides and Toad with his… erm… outright simplicity. It is this outright minimalism approach that makes this character the perfect fit for this outing. Captain Toad is tasked with navigating through 3D cubical levels using the bare minimum. He can walk, run (Only just), climb obstacles, throw turnips and scare away menacing Boo’s with his head lamp. Occasionally Toad (or Toadette) will find a very basic power up, usually a Double Cherry or a Pickaxe, that will assist on the journey, these items are generally essential for those looking to fully complete the puzzles.
Navigating the shroom
The Wii U gamepad has been integrated exceptionally well with the general gameplay mechanics. You can optionally tilt the pad to navigate through narrow angles and spot previously unseen treasures. The general level rotation however is done in 45 degree angles using the L and R triggers. In some instances it will be neccessary to zoom in on your character for more precise navigation. This is especially handy when routing amongst moving obstacles. Using the gamepads touchscreen Toad is able to move objects, raise entire platforms and turn wheels which change the entire outcome of the given level.
Collecting those gems
Things start off with great ease as you learn the basic navigation throughout the first few levels. As you progress your missions become more challenging but as a whole can be completed with relatively little effort. You quickly discover that each level has three hidden power gem, similar to the green stars found throughout Super Mario 3DS World; this is where the true challenge lies. In order to progress to the higher lever you will need a certain number of the often well hidden gems. In addition to the power gems each level has an optional side quest that will have completionists revisiting most of the stages on offer. The side quests appear in the form of mine cart levels similar in principle to those found in the Donkey Kong Country games.
A little something extra
Remember me mentioning that Captain Toad was first featured in Super Mario 3D World? Well now it’s time to return the favour. If you have a SM3DW save on your Wii U console, you’ll automatically unlock a selection of bonus levels based on the highly acclaimed platformer. The additional levels, while well laid out, are clearly not designed in the same vein as the levels specifically designed for the game. Sure, the bonus stages are adapted slightly to accommodate Toads’ limited skill set, but sadly miss the mark when compared to the structure of the original game. The boss fights, while not really an ‘extra’ feel unique enough to pass as something slightly different. Two main bosses appear throughout the game. A fire-breathing dragon appropriately named Draggadon and the same menacing bird , Wingo, who you encountered in the game’s opening scene. These boss levels require precise timing but aren’t particularly difficult If anything they are overly repetitive.
Toad in a hole
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is defined by its endless charm. Toad’s maniacal squawks and frantic expressions are beautifully executed nearly forcing you to forget the occasional repetitive theme. Even with some of the continual, rhythmic level design you will find yourself wanting to return to previous puzzles to unlock some well presented tasks. Completing the game in its entirety, along with the additional Super Mario 3D World extras will take a significant amount of time making the game far more than just a few random mini-game puzzles. All in all Captain Toad’s adventure is off to a good start and you can be sure to see the game spin off into a successful, fully fledged series.