CaptainToad.jpgCaptain Toad: Treasure Tracker is essentially the Frasier to Super Mario 3D World’s Cheers – That is, it’s a spin-off of ideas previously put to work in the previous.  The handful of Captain Toad levels in Mario 3D World were well received enough to justify a whole game based on it. While I admit it flew under my radar, people have been asking me if I would be reviewing the game, and what my thoughts were as a puzzle game fan.  Here they are.

 

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is developed and published by Nintendo

Release date: December 4th, 2014

Rated: E for Everyone

Genre: Puzzle – Adventure

Consoles: Nintendo Wii U

I admit that I didn’t play Super Mario 3D World when it came out (Randal Santia reviewed it for Plug In) so I didn’t have much of a frame of reference over what the levels were about. If you didn’t play them either, you may get thrown off at first by the fact that Toad (and later Toadette) has a very limited skill set. He can walk, dash, climb ladders, and pull things up out of the ground.  He can’t jump, dodge, block, etc. I didn’t mind this too much considering it’s a puzzle game after all, but just be ready for it.

 

Each level takes place at an undisclosed location in the sky and gives you free form over the camera in two ways.  You can either control it using the thumb sticks, or for you adventurous types, pans also occur through the gyroscopic recognition built into the Wii U Gamepad. Believe me when I say this is easier said than done, as with its hare-trigger, the smallest sneeze will throw your angle off course.  You will absolutely need to learn how to maneuver the camera, however, as your need for it will come into play almost immediately.  Every level has 3 measurables – Coin collection record, gemstones to collect as well as an optional objective. The optional objectives can range from killing all enemies to level completion in a set number of steps. There are more coins hidden in each level than you think and you can’t usually fulfill every objective in one shot, so you’ll have to play each a few times over.  There’s no time limit to the levels, so take your time exploring.  Pan the cameras in and out as far as you can and see what you can see, and then take the time to figure out how you can get there (especially as far as the gems, golden mushrooms and coin stashes are concerned.)

 

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The game opens up in the style of chapter storybooks.  There are around 70 levels broken into different “books.”  New pages (or puzzles) are unlocked as you beat the others and feature different styles of objectives. For example, one may require you to tap on shifting blocks, while another may involve revolving platforms.  One thing to keep in mind here is because the Toad peoples’ movements are fairly linear, and doesn’t including jumping, you have to find evade your enemies, or aim well with whatever you pull up from the ground.  You can obtain in-level items like pickaxes as well (which will work like the hammer in Donkey Kong) but they’re only occasional pulls, and there’s usually a reason why (ie. busting a hidden wall.)

 

Something I really enjoyed about the game was the heightened use of visuals.  There’s almost no text explanations or stories in the game, with the title preferring to tell you the story or what’s happening solely through visuals, sound effects, and Toad’s trademark screechy voice proclaiming that he’s ready for adventure. Sometimes, you don’t really need lengthy monologues or written storylines to bog you down.  Captain Toad is very WYSIWYG in that sense.  It just puts everything out there for you without any hidden meanings.

 

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There has now been amiibo support patched in, and if you own Toad, you’ll find a new element added to your gameplay. Toad will hide characters in levels for you to find, adding a new chase for you if you’re the type of gamer that likes to hit that 100% mark every time.

 

This is a really well put together game.  I really thought things like Toad team’s limited movements and the camera would be a pain, but if you don’t let it get in your way, they’re both easy enough to conquer.  The puzzles get longer over time, but I didn’t find that they were that difficult outside of a few errant judgment calls here and there. Most of your efforts and lost lives will come from the odd enemy misencounter or falling off platforms. Level 15, which involved constant motion in the face of falling platforms (my arch-nemesis) nearly Game Over’d me.  Speaking of which, the Game Over screens are a bit odd.  Yes, you can run out of lives, but the game basically punts you back to where you were before. This is the right move on Nintendo’s part, because having to redo a bunch of puzzles is probably one of the most annoying things to do in the genre, but I couldn’t quite understand what the consequence was outside of feeling sheepish that you did stupid things to game over.  Perhaps I coincidentally died at checkpoints?

 

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In the end, this is a very old school style puzzle game to a tee reminiscent of the Bubble Ghosts and “Kwirk the Radical Tomato”s of old. The pace is very slow at times, and very elaborate.  This isn’t a typical Mario series game, and I don’t think it will appeal to the younger audiences used to fast paced series action. Instead, if you’re looking for a good puzzle challenge, and can set aside a few hours to play a new school version of dying genre, this is a good title to pick up. As with most puzzle games, however, the replayability is only in as far as you wanting to 100% the game. Unfortunately, puzzle games are a lot like the Encyclopedia Brown books we read as kids – Once you know the solutions, they rarely come off the shelf again.

 

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker doesn’t go out of its way to contend for a lot of late Game of the Year consideration outside of within the puzzle genre, but it’s another really strong title from Nintendo, who have really been incapable of putting out a bad game lately. The momentum they’re gaining right now will come in handy in 2015, when you start to see the next Mario Party, Yoshi and Zelda games, amongst other things. For now, close out your 2014 with Captain Toad and his thirst for treasure.

 

Final Ratings

Gameplay: 4 / 5

Graphics: 4.5 / 5

Sound: 4 / 5

Controls: 4 / 5

Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5 / 5

Overall Rating: 4 / 5 (80%)

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is now available at Best Buy and BestBuy.ca exclusively for the WiiU.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I’ve been looking for a game to put under the tree for my 13 year old daughter, and this one sounds like a winner! It’s really hard finding good games for girls, but puzzles are definitely her thing.

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