Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Review
Time for Adventure!
Published on July 16, 2018
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Release Date: July 13, 2018
Platform: Nintendo Switch, 3DS (Played on Nintendo Switch)
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Ever since their debut in Super Mario Galaxy, the Toad Brigade has been an indispensable group for Mario and his friends across their adventures. Much to the disdain of the other members, it is led by the hard-working Captain Toad, who is often seen searching for his crew that he abandoned at first sight of danger. In the eponymous Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, the fearful leader must navigate his way through over 50 worlds to save Toadette and his treasure. Does he have what it takes?
Most of the levels have the player controlling Captain Toad in a contained, isometric view world that harkens back to the childhood wonderment of exploring a diorama. Each environment is perfectly balanced with the right number of friendly and hostile inhabitants, with none of them feeling overpopulated or barren. The main difference from a mainline Mario game is that Captain Toad cannot jump. The camera and object interaction are your primary tools, and it’s up to you to change the environment and search every nook and cranny to find the three gems and power star that populate each of these worlds. Each level doesn’t take an exuberant about of time, with the average level taking about 5 minutes. However, replayability is a key feature of the game: hide-and-seek mode, bonus objectives and time trials give you ample time to take in each of the masterfully crafted sceneries.
The goal of each level stays consistent throughout the whole affair: picking up power stars will complete the stage, while a combination of gems and progress will unlock levels. However, the game does a great job in changing things up, with a huge variety in set pieces ranging from exploring a single building, to riding a mine cart a mountain, to battling against a dragon inside a volcano. You’ll never feel like ideas were copied and pasted to pad the time.
Depending on if the console is docked or in your hands, you can either interact with the world using your fingertips or a motion-controlled pointer. Although Joy-Con controls are a welcomed addition in the remake, it tends to be overwhelming when trying to deal with the challenges that require both movements of the Captain and objects at the same time. The center position of the pointer also drifts as you move along the edge, which results in needing a recalibration at often inopportune times.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker never reaches the brain-busting level of difficulty of others in the genre, but does an exceptional job with a consistent and gradual learning curve. It takes its time in introducing the mechanics required to solve puzzles, yet it never feels like a drag. When complete, Toad’s arsenal of tools will include his trusty headlamp, turnips, pickaxes, and magical cloning cherries. Although some uses of these tools are ingenious, the game never pushes the player to think outside the box, and the experience can get reasonably linear near the end. For those who are looking for more, the extra challenges and bonus levels ramp up the difficulty by a significant amount but is not a required part of the game.
Keeping the target audience in mind, the game generously helps out players who may struggle with the puzzles. A new addition in the remake, a second player can jump in at any time with an extra controller, allowing them to interact with the world, stop enemies, but most importantly throw turnips. Usually, Captain Toad would need to find a turnip somewhere in the level to be able to use it, but the ability to conjure them out of thin air dials down the difficulty for those requiring assistance. If friendly aid isn’t available, the game also provides an invincibility mode after failing a level enough times. These features don’t necessarily dumb down the game, but widens the accessibility spectrum for the audience, and are always welcomed features.
On top of the features mentioned above, the remaster on the Switch comes with four Super Mario Odyssey themed levels to replace the Super Mario 3D World set that was formerly part of the Wii U release. Additionally, the requirement of having to blow into the mic to interact with certain levels has been removed in favor of using the pointer or touch interactions. While running in docked mode, the game receives a significant upgrade in visuals, displaying at 1080p up from 720p. Although a re-release, Nintendo did a fair job in making tweaks to address some of the concerns from the initial launch to warrant the title of a remaster.
In the end, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker accomplishes what it set out to do by providing a delightful and straightforward puzzle experience. The worlds are breathtaking to look at, and the puzzles are perfect for bite-sized sessions wherever you may be. Although there are a couple of issues that could be ironed out, this remaster is a great pick up for any Switch owner.