Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch) Review
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was a delightful surprise on the Wii U. While on the surface it’s a simple game, the charm of Captain Toad and the strong puzzling fun still today brings a smile to the face. It’s a puzzle game that forces you to think outside the box, while itself being in a box.
Captain Toad’s story is light and adorable as any other Mario-ish title. Toad and Toadette are on an adventure to find treasure, upon finding that treasure it’s promptly stolen from them and Toadette is whisked away by Wingo the bird at the same time. It’s up to Toad to save her (mostly) and head off on over 70 levels of fun.
Captain Toad might look like a Mario game or even just a platformer, but it’s all a deception. Toad can’t jump and instead has to use the world around him, and what he plucks out of the ground to take down enemies and solve puzzles. The goal of each level is to collect three gems and then a power star. If you plough through the game doing just that it’ll be pretty over soon.
You should, however, work through all the extra activities and hidden things baked into each level which you might not have found on the first go. Also after you beat a level, some levels open up with a hidden Pixel Toad sticker to find further added another thing to do. Previously this was locked behind the Toad amiibo but now is available upon stage completion.
Each level is a little tiny diorama, you’ll want to turn the level to all possible angles to find the solution and all the goodies hidden in the levels. The game is broken up with some interesting (but recycled) boss fights and some mine cart levels. Toad will hop into the cart and you can use the motion controls to shoot Turnips around along the track, though weirdly this motion control for looking around only works in handheld mode, which was a little annoying. Each of the worlds is based on the different types of worlds that were in Super Mario 3D World and each has their own set of trips and traps. Eventually the ideas start to get re-used but the game isn’t so long that it gets annoying, neither short enough to feel like you’ve been swindled.
Captain Toad was one of those Wii U games that actually really used the Wii U GamePad and without it, at least docked you’re at a disadvantage. Instead of a quick poke of the GamePad screen to freeze an enemy or obstacle (your only real offensive move), you instead have a cursor on the screen, it’s controlled with the motion controls but works like a pointer. You have to use that instead to prod enemies to pause or move stage elements around and it’s just not as good or precise. Not only that but the pointer stays on the screen the entire time, you can’t get rid of it. The game offers some new camera zoom levels as well, and instead of using the GamePad for moving the camera its all now on the right stick – much better.
To counter this Nintendo has added a new “two player” mode, and I use that term very loosely because all the second player then does is be the pointer and shoot turnups at enemies. It’s just as much a two-player game as Super Mario Galaxy was. Playing portable is where the game shines, all of the good GamePad features come back and it just works better than with the fake-pointer.
So while the game is a straight port of the Wii U version there are some other additions to the game that you might have heard of — namely the addition of some Super Mario Odyssey themed levels. These four levels can be unlocked with the Wedding amiibo or, if you don’t have them, unlocked eventually through playing the game.
These cute cut down versions of Odyssey’s worlds are a nice addition to the game and provide extra value out of those amiibo. They have come at the cost of the removal of the Super Mario 3D World levels, which thematically may have now not matched – but still could have worked. Nintendo’s doing its best to forget the Wii U existed at this point.
The other improvement is a subtle one, but the game now runs at 1080p docked and it still looks amazing. It’s bright and cheerful and has no right looking this good. It’s even better on the portable screen where the game pops and its a reminder that portable games can now look this great.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker offers very little for those who have played it before, but if you haven’t played before then you’re in for a treat. Treasure Tracker might look adorable on the surface but under lurks a fun and innovative puzzler, one that might just be better played on your own adventure away from the TV.
+ Super adorable
+ Lots of content
+ Perfect to play portable
- Offers very little reason to buy if you've played before
- No gyro looking around outside of handheld mode