Review: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Posted 12 Jul 2018 at 08:00 by Dennis Tummers
When a port for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was announced in the Nintendo Direct last march, it was quite a pleasant surprise. This original WiiU gem with the charming Captain Toad as a main character for the first time quickly stole the hearts of many WiiU owners. So a port to the popular Nintendo Switch seemed like a no-brainer to educate non-WiiU owners about Toad’s cuteness. The real surprise came when not only a Nintendo Switch version, but a Nintendo 3DS version was coming as well! As we have reviewed both the WiiU and the Switch version already, I will not dive into the content of the game too much. Instead I will focus on the differences between the versions, and tell you how the 3DS version compares to its big brothers.
Now that the Nintendo Switch is on the market, the 3DS family has lost its status as the portable Nintendo. It still has some perks over the Switch in comparison to mobility, with a longer battery life and a smaller and lighter form factor. And with the sheer amount of 3DS’s and 2DS’s in the world today, it is good to see that this game gets a chance to appeal to these players as well. As the 2DS and 3DS models are cheaper, chances are a lot of younger players have one. The cuteness and relative simplicity of the game can make it an interesting new title for that target group.
Coming from the Switch though, you immediately see that the 3DS is a much older console. Toad shines on the 3DS, and it is impressive how well it looks for a 3DS game. This is really drawing every bit of power out of the little machine. But put it next two the other two versions, and the difference is showing: the resolution is much lower, and half of the framerates have been done in. The 3DS version runs on 30FPS instead 60.
The big selling point of the 3DS was the stereoscopic 3D. It’s great to see that Nintendo put effort in this unique feature, as the top screen displays the colourful cubes in 3D if you want (and you have a 3DS instead of a 2DS). Although the effect is not as impressive as in titles such as Kirby: Triple Deluxe or Super Mario 3D Land, it does add to the charm.
The top screen shows the level you are playing, without any of the counters or other HUD elements. The image is also a bit bigger, due to the fact that the top screen is wider than the bottom screen. This one gives you, well, the same screen as on top, slightly cropped on the sides and with the HUD. You can zoom in and out but both screens zoom the same; it would have been a nice feature if you could adjust the zooms independently.
Stepping on a switch makes the spinning valve pop up on the touchscreen, and this is where the touch controls kick in. Other elements such as freezing enemies or moving elements are also done with a tick of the stylus or finger. Dragging around moves the camera, although that can also be done with the C-stick if you have one.
With the top and bottom screen showing the same, I sometimes found myself tapping the touch screen. Vice versa sometimes I was concentrating a lot on the bottom screen, missing all that beautiful 3D action up above me. Further, for accurate camera movement I really need to use the stylus, as the resistive screen of the 3DS is not really registering long finger strokes. Here you also feel the age of the 3DS; after using smartphones or the Switch with capacitive touch dragging a stylus feels outdated. It also lead to a slightly uncomfortable position: My left hand uses the analogue stick, my right hand uses the stylus, but actions need to be done with the A button. That last bit is tricky with the pen in hand. Being able to remap A to L or ZL would have easily fixed it, unfortunately this is not possible. The C-stick I find really unresponsive at times so I ended up with a mix of all modes of input, but it did not feel too good.
Luckily there is a lot in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker that is good, even in the 3DS version. The levels are still amazing, and the cast and characters charming as ever. The soundtrack is as good as it is in the other versions, with catchy tunes and a plethora of squeaky Toad noises.
The 3DS has the same levels and extras as the Switch versions, including Pixel Toad hide-and-seek (it was locked behind an amiibo in the WiiU version), the new bonus levels based on Super Mario Odyssey, and amiibo support in general. Add to that the stereoscopic 3D and the ability to play it on a truly portable machine. The only function not supported is co-op play, but to be honest you are not missing out too much on that.
It is impressive that Nintendo got Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker on the 3DS to look so good. It is even more impressive that they decided to port it to the more than 7 year old machine in the first place! With the game being both on Switch and 3DS, Toad can find a gigantic target audience to work his charms on. It makes you wonder if Nintendo has more planned for the little adventurer.
While there are nice extras in the 3DS version such as the trademark 3D, the Switch version is superior here. The downscaled resolution and loss in framerate are pretty obvious in the 3DS version. Since a quick search online gives you about similar prices for both versions, if you have the choice go for the Switch. Only if you really value 3D, want to play it on a more mobile handheld device or simply don’t own a Switch, I would advise the 3DS version.
N-Europe Final Verdict
With Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker the 3DS gets an excellent gem of a title, which many may have missed in the first place. It is amazing that Nintendo keeps supporting the console. With this version you get the same game as with the Nintendo Switch version. Resolution and framerate take a hit, and co-op is lost in the process too. What you get is a supercute puzzler in stereoscopic 3D, good for several hours of fun. It does show the age of the 3DS though, and if you have the choice I would suggest the superior Switch version.
Charming presentation and audio
Resolution and framerate take a hit
Both screens show the same info
Some control issues