'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker' Marches Into The Stars

December 5, 2014

The Toadstools have always gotten the short end of the stick in the Mushroom Kingdom. Outside of their princess constantly getting kidnapped, they are usually relegated to a secondary or tertiary role whenever Mario's name appears on the game's box. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker finally changes all of that, and gives the Toadstools a champion, Captain Toad. He first appeared in 2007's Super Mario Galaxy, but more recently made a splash in last year's excellent Super Mario 3D World as part of a minigame, but now, the leader of the Toad Brigade gets to take center stage in his own, full-fledged title. Go Toads!

Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Publisher: Nintendo

Developed by the same internal team that worked on Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker feels like the quintessential Nintendo puzzle game. It's cute, easy to pick up, is paced well, and stars a familiar face that anyone that has played a Nintendo game in the last 25 years will recognize. EAD Tokyo Group 2 has developed quite a name for themselves as of late; in addition to working on 3D World, they have also played a hand in both Wii U NES Remix games, Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS as well as the Wii classic Super Mario Galaxy 2. This collection of games has clearly laid the groundwork for the next generation of Nintendo development by blending classic style with fresh and innovative ideas.

Treasure Tracker opens with a nice afternoon treasure hunt where Captain Toad's pal, Toadette, is carried off by a giant bird. In order to save Toadette, Captain Toad must collect gems and stars across a host of different levels, while on the search for his friend. That's the first episode ... in the second one, it's Toadette's turn to save Captain Toad. The levels themselves are three-dimensional puzzles, where the Captain must safely navigate his way from the beginning to the board to the end, without getting hit twice. Along the way, he can collect coins and gems to try and maximize his performance on each of the levels. Each map is designed to test player's spatial awareness and general planning skills, with goodies hidden in every nook and cranny of the game. Using the Wii U GamePad, players can spin the view of the board in an attempt to plot out a safe path for Captain Toad to track down all of his treasure. Every now and then, a boss pops up, changing up the exploration mechanics just a little bit by infusing a little bit more action into the levels. Needless to say, Captain Toad's treasure hunt isn't your normal stroll through the Mushroom Kingdom.

You can only track down treasures with Captain Toad on the Wii U. The game takes advantage of quite a few system-specific features, like the touch screen, microphone and gyroscope. As an nice added feature, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is also compatible with Nintendo's amiibo figures, although the full functionality has yet to be announced.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker demonstrates just how good Nintendo is at making games. The overall concept behind Captain Toad is as basic as they come: get from point A to point B safely. However, the team in Tokyo manages to infuse a level of delightfulness that is virtually impossible for other games to recreate. Captain Toad, Toadette, all of the enemies, the music, and even the levels in the game are adorable - you have to have a heart of stone to play a game like this without a smile on your face. Some of the later levels can really test a players skills (and patience), but if you dig in, and work your way through the challenge, Captain Toad can be rewarding on a host of different levels. Everyone that played through Super Mario 3D World already had a taste of Treasure Tracker, and should fully understand why the Captain made the jump from minigame to full release.