Captain Toad straps on his headlamp and oversized backpack to finally star in his own adventure. As you journey with the little fellow, you'll unearth treasures while exploring stages, solving puzzles, fighting dastardly bosses, and adoring everything in sight.
Treasure Tracker is played by navigating Toad (and later Toadette) through many intricately rendered yet seemingly small stages. This is accomplished with minimalistic controls as you cannot jump but can pick up items and utilize various objects and power-ups. You must use the GamePad to play by moving with the left stick and controlling the camera with either the right stick or by tilting the GamePad. Picking up and throwing objects is done with the A button which can be held down to run. You can also toggle your headlamp and zoom the camera in or out. Other controls are handled by the GamePad's interactive features such as moving various platforms by using the touch screen or blowing into the microphone. Everything is implemented intuitively as it feels natural and you'll never forget how to play.
There isn't much of a story in Captain Toad. Basically, the game is broken up into three episodes. The first episode will begin with Toadette being abducted by a giant bird named Wingo and it's up to Captain Toad to save her. In the second episode, Captain Toad is abducted by the same dirty ol' bird and it's up to Toadette to save him. The final chapter will have you alternate between the two chums as it leads up to the final confrontation with Wingo. There are 18 stages in the first two episodes plus 28 in the final episode, so you'll be in for quite a significantly sized adventure.
The stages themselves are incredibly memorable with plenty of unique themes, puzzles, interactive set-pieces, enemies, hidden gems (literally and figuratively), and power-ups. The goal of each stage is to get the star, but no adventurer would be satisfied with just one treasure! You can also find three super gems and fulfill a bonus objective. Gems are mostly well-hidden and difficult to reach. Bonus objectives include achievements such as finishing a stage while defeating all of the enemies, collecting a certain amount of coins, finding an interesting item (like a gold or 1-up mushroom), or not taking any damage. Being able to collect all of the super gems and achieve all of the optional objectives is extremely rewarding as you will unlock further stages and plenty of fun bonus content.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker simply looks adorable. Captain Toad and Toadette are almost constantly smiling even immediately after being scared. Although the graphics are incredibly cute, everything appears alive with vibrantly coloured and well animated stages and characters. Some stages are spooky and dark but they still manage to be brimming with character. It's really quite amazing how it all fits together to create fresh memorable moments from start to finish. The music does a great job of setting a wondrous mood with a mixture of orchestral pieces. Songs that play in stages always complement their theme very well. Captain Toad and Toadette's voices are familiar to any Nintendo fan and their personalities shine when they react to events. Sound effects emphasize both players' and enemies' actions in a way that is gratifying and never obtrusive. Upon completing stages, you are presented with a fanfare complete with confetti that will make you feel rewarded every single time. Overall, the presentation will put you in a good mood no matter what.
Stages in Captain Toad contain plenty of interesting mechanics that help to mix the gameplay up. Some stages will put you in a mine cart where you throw turnips at items and enemies while you travel along a set path (like in a rail-shooter). Power-ups include a pickaxe that temporarily allows you to smash through certain walls, and cherries that will split you into multiple clones of yourself that all move simultaneously. You will also come across keys that unlock doors, wheels that rotate parts of the stage, turnip cannons, speed boost pads, and clear pipes that you automatically move through. There are a ton of features that constantly keep the game feeling fresh.
Every now and then you will come across bonus rounds in the form of Mummy-Me Mazes and Coins Galore. They both serve the purpose of giving you the opportunity to collect massive amounts of coins thus giving you 1-ups according to how well you do. Mummy-Me Mazes are played by running through coin-filled mazes while a mummy relentlessly chases you and Coins Galore rounds are played by selecting a power-up (either the pickaxe or cherries) to play an appropriate stage of coin-collecting chaos. These rounds are welcome diversions to this otherwise slower-paced game and are a fun way to earn extra lives.
The unlockable bonus stages are quite enjoyable as they take already existing stages and add new elements that make them even more challenging. The first four bonus stages are taken from Super Mario 3D World but they are more difficult considering Captain Toad is far less mobile than the folks in that game. The next four will have Captain Toad find the three members of his Toad Brigade in order to reach the star as a team. In these stages, if any Toad gets hurt then you have to start again so being able to find and protect everyone becomes quite a significant task. The next three stages contain a mummy who will chase Toadette until she reaches the goal. Therefore, you must be quick and efficient to survive. Other unlockables include previously played prologues, Mummy-Me Maze Forever, and Unlimited Coins Galore. All of this content adds a great deal of replayability especially since unlocking all of it is no easy feat!
Although there is a lot to love in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, there are a couple of issues that are hard to ignore. Considering the amount of cuteness on display, you would expect plenty of cutscenes that will reward you for your efforts. The cutscenes that do exist will delight you but they are few and far between and many of the scenes are recycled. For example, the same scenes that feature Toad will later feature Toadette. Why not make new cutscenes? Also, you will face both Wingo and a dragon named Draggadon a few times each. Every battle basically feels the same as the last time you fought them. Sure, they become slightly more difficult but it would have been nice to see more variety in the boss fights. Another issue is the fact that the difficulty is uneven. At times, you'll retry a stage over and over again only to eventually advance to the next stage which happens to be a casual stroll in the park. Some early stages are actually more difficult than some later stages. In the end, these issues don't add up to much but they're still worth noting.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a great first starring role for everyone's favourite all around fun guy. As you play, you'll smile at all of the cuteness to behold and feel heavily rewarded for your puzzle-solving and exploration skills within the variety of memorable stages.
- + 64 memorable main stages with plenty of fun unlockable bonus stages
- + Exploration and puzzle solving are rewarding
- + Incredibly cute presentation
- - Recycled cutscenes and boss fights
- - Uneven difficulty