When it comes to cute and cuddly video game characters, no one does it better than Toad. Ever since his original appearance in Super Mario Bros in 1985, Toad has never been the true shining star of any Mario game until now. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker places Toad (or “Captain Toad” as he’s officially known in this game) into his own puzzle solving 3D world adventure. The game is originally based off of mini-games that were available in Super Mario 3D World, where Captain Toad would navigate a small world in search of a certain number of stars. These stars would then be added to your total in the main game. Personally, I enjoyed the mini-games a lot but I would have never imagined Nintendo would decide to take that fun mini-game and expand it into an amazing full title. However, that’s exactly what they did.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker involves Toad and Toadette solving puzzles by collecting items in a rotatable 3D environment. Unlike a traditional Mario title, Toad is very limited in terms of his mobility due to his heavy exploration gear. He can’t jump, so the smallest ledge can suddenly become the biggest challenge. Players going in with a traditional Mario mentality will easily be stumped when they discover how Captain Toad moves very differently compared to the Italian plumber (Mario).
The game doesn’t offer much in terms of a plot. Captain Toad and Toadette are adventuring and exploring when a giant bird named Wingo attacks and snatches a power star and Toadette along with it. After a while Toad will catch up and save Toadette, only to be taken by Wingo. The role then reverses and Toadette must save Toad. Then finally the same thing occurs where Toad must save Toadette one last time. Having this repetitive scenario take place really makes the final fight a bit underwhelming since nothing is gained other than getting your partner back, yet again. Other than that, the game is simply about solving puzzles and having a good time.
One of the best parts about Treasure Tracker is that it makes great use of the Wii U GamePad. What makes this game so loveable and adorable is more than just Toad and Toadette themselves, but rather the worlds that they’ll travel through. Each bright and colorful world holds its own unique charm, and with it, comes many secrets. The way the environments work in Treasure Tracker is that players can only see a portion of the world at a time due to the game’s camera. Players must use the Wii U GamePad to rotate the camera and see various parts of the levels. Since the world can’t be seen all at once, it becomes very important to rotate the camera often to try and discover hidden nooks and crannies for secrets. The GamePad can also be used to stun enemies or reveal secrets if the player touches the appropriate spot. The blow function from Super Mario 3D World has also returned, where the player must blow into the mic slot of the GamePad to power certain platforms in order to advance. Other various functions of the GamePad in this title include the first person mode used in certain areas such as when Captain Toad is riding in a mine cart and must shoot down enemies in his path.
If the $40 price tag scares you into thinking “this game is cheaper because it’s short” don’t be so quick to judge. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker offers 70 unique levels for you to solve and explore. Since the levels are a bit small and compact, the game doesn’t work as one big continuous adventure, but takes a more episodic approach to the levels. There’s plenty of content to keep any explorer busy for a while, even if you aren’t looking to discover every little secret. If you aren’t looking to complete the game 100%, the game will seem rather short, clocking in only roughly 6-7 hours. However, if you are the type to have to play the game to completion, you could easily double those hours, to even perhaps 20 hours total. That may not sound like much, but keep in mind this isn’t a full price title and is simply an enjoyable puzzle game.
Treasure Tracker isn’t a perfect game, however. The GamePad controls the camera in two ways. One is to use the right analog stick to move the camera, and the other is through motion control. Both of these controls are always on so it can be rather frustrating at times dealing with the camera. The boss fights can also become rather repetitive quickly and are very gimmicky. The dragon boss that you face multiple times is rather predictable and the fight doesn’t change much each time either, since the game isn’t action focused but more of a puzzle solver. Therefore, there isn’t much satisfaction in defeating the boss as there would be in a traditional Mario title.
And yet, you can’t stay mad at Captain Toad, because this game is all about what Nintendo does best, creating a strong central concept and executing that central concept very well. Through this one simple concept of exploring a level with a basic character, while dealing with various angles and shots of the area to discover secrets, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a fantastic title for any Wii U owner and is something that can be enjoyed by anyone. Toad and Toadette are as cute as ever in this game. With their high pitched voices and over-the-top enthusiasm, you can’t help but smile while playing this game. Just hearing Toad yell “ready for adventure!” right before the start of each level is enough to give any player a warm fuzzy feeling. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a simple title, with a simple concept, yet it involves many tricky puzzles, and a vast amount of content to satisfy any Wii U owner.