Review: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Posted 10 Jul 2018 at 13:00 by Ashley Jones
Captain Toad has come a long way since he started as a surprisingly charming feature in Super Mario 3D World. He got his own game shortly after that on the Wii U, appeared in Super Mario Odyssey and now Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker has made its way to both the Switch and Nintendo 3DS (our review for the 3DS version is coming soon).
The title is largely the same as it was on the Wii U, and indeed in Super Mario 3D World. You navigate Toad around a diorama-esque level with the ability to rotate the camera around. Your goal is to get the star at the end of the level but in order to do that you will need to navigate the 3D space to overcome obstacles, defeat enemies (with the help of turnips) and find hidden passageways.
The old mantra ‘easy to pick up, difficult to master’ comes to mind. The basic concept is simple enough and the difficulty curve is well paced. If you stick to the most basic challenge - to get the star - you can fly through the game pretty quickly. However, each level also contains three jewels that you can hunt down. You don’t have to get them all, but you do need to collect certain amounts to progress later on (similar to the gated parts of Peach’s Castle in Super Mario 64).
If you want a further challenge, each level also contains an optional quest. Sometimes this is picking up something else (a golden mushroom), other times they are akin to miniature achievements such as ‘collect x coins’, ‘defeat all enemies’, or criteria-based ones (only use x once). You don’t actually know what these are before you first tackle the level, but once you’ve got the star you can see what the challenge is.
The Switch and Nintendo 3DS versions of the game also give you the Pixel Toad mode without needing to use amiibos. After you have successfully swiped the star from each stage a Pixelated Toad will appear on the level select screen and when selected you are taken back into the stage but this time you must hunt down a small pixel version of Toad. It’s enjoyability depends on how much you like hide and seek (and you’ve got to like it at least a little bit as that is essentially what Captain Toad is all about).
There are occasional breaks from the typical format, such as boss levels that increase the pressure and minecart levels that flip the game on its head - restricting movement but freeing up camera control. Overall there is a good variety of experiences on offer that it doesn’t feel like its repeating itself too much, which can be a problem with the genre.
New levels based on the worlds from Super Mario Odyssey have also been added to these versions, meaning if you did own the Wii U version it is not all old headlamp. Obviously they were added as a selling point for owners of the Wii U version, but it does make me wonder if we can expect further DLC in the future. This would be the perfect game for additional level packs down the line.
The Switch’s dual form factor provides an interesting challenge for a game that relied on the Wii U’s touchscreen to poke and prod enemies so that Captain Toad navigate more easily. Playing in portable mode is fine obviously (although it does run at 720p compared to the docked 1080), but when docked you don’t have a touch screen. Nintendo has taken advantage of the Switch’s gyroscope in their controllers to basically replicate it, but it’s not as elegant as a touch screen.
The gyro pointer always feels a bit floaty, particularly with the Pro Controller, and it just feels more clunky. By no means awful, it just is a game that was clearly designed for a touch screen. Additionally, it means the cursor is always just somewhere on the screen and it's not necessarily distracting, but it is a nuisance.
2 players can join in using the two Joy-Cons (and only using two Joy-Cons). One player controls the movement of Captain Toad (and can swing the camera around using the shoulder buttons) while the other player controls the camera and can fling an unlimited supply of turnips at enemies. The game is much easier in 2 player mode, providing you both communicate with each other.
Amiibos of course play a part, offering an invincibility mushroom if you tap a Toad amiibo or lives if you tap others. The more related to the Mario series they are the more lives you acquire.
Nintendo’s usual charming visuals and audio are of course on offer here. The graphics have had a tweak for the Switch version and while you start each level zoomed out you can zoom in, giving a better chance to look at some of the wonderful details that are present. Certain levels really showcase Nintendo’s trademark brand of colour and style, whether it is in the world design, enemies or the charming level selection book.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is in itself a good game. Whether it's worth getting depends on if you got the Wii U version. Even if you did there’s some new challenges to await you, and the amount of levels that exist its likely you will have forgotten how to do at least a handful of them meaning you’ll be challenged all over again. The lower than usual price point will also sway a few people too.
While the game feels a bit clunkier in docked mode, it fits more naturally in the portable mode. Not only because it is more akin to the Wii U GamePad, but also because the short levels are perfect for gaming on the go. It offers challenges that will have you scratching your head and is of course full of the usual charm. It’s just a shame Toad’s voice is still the worst.
An original version of this review incorrectly stated that the Pixel Toad mode was new, when in fact it did exist in the Wii U version but required amiibos.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Another charming Nintendo title that is worth checking out if you never played the Wii U version, and still a strong contender if you have. Challenging, cute and charming.
Plenty of content for the cost
New levels and modes from the Wii U version
Full of charm
Less 'natural' while docked