Review: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Posted 3 years ago by Dan Roemer

The pixel toad noises have been burned into my mind

Personally, I never ended up buying a Wii U. My original plan was to wait for Breath of the Wild to release on the system before nabbing one. But by the time that was drawing near, the Switch was announced and right around the corner. However, one of the games that immediately caught my eye during the Wii U’s life-cycle (and nearly pushed me over the edge into purchasing the system) was Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

As a toad enthusiast who is still baffled that after The Year of Luigi we’ve yet to experience or even hear plans for The Year of Toad, I was stoked toads everywhere were finally getting the spotlight in the form of Captain Toad. Still, I couldn’t help but feel distraught at the time knowing Captain Toad was released on a sinking ship of a platform. Thankfully, Captain Toad has now made its way to the Switch and 3DS and if you missed out on the Wii U like me, there’s no time like the present to enjoy some fantastic puzzling on the go!

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker review

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch [Reviewed], 3DS, Wii U)
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: July 13, 2018 (Switch, 3DS) December 5, 2014 (Wii U)
MSRP: $39.99

Captain Toad is pretty light on story, with only a handful of story beats and cutscenes happening throughout the course of the game. The adventure begins with Captain Toad and Toadette out exploring in search of stars when suddenly Wingo (a giant bird) comes along and steals the star and Toadette along with it. Of course, Captain Toad is a toad of action. He isn’t about to go beg some plumber in a red cap for help and sets off to save the day. That said, Toadette isn’t any slouch though waiting to be saved, as you’ll even get to play as her in the following episode in what is basically a role-reversal.

This adventure takes place across three episodes, each with a number of different levels and bonus challenges to complete. The levels themselves, although small in size, allow you to manipulate the camera around them to uncover various hidden areas or objects. It’s in this foundation of a mechanic where the bulk of the puzzle-solving is built upon, with the simple rule of Toad or Toadette not being able to jump (due to their heavy backpacks). Alongside moving the camera around the stage, you’ll also be tapping or using the gyroscope-controlled cursor (when docked on Switch) to stun enemies or activate or move objects in the environment to reach the star and complete the level.

Notably, though, you can’t seem to use gyroscope aiming during on-rail levels while the Switch is docked. I can only assume this was due to the gyroscope controls being assigned to the mock-up cursor when playing while docked. Co-op was also added to the Switch version (if you can even call it that), which allows the second person to take control of the on-screen cursor… Exciting! As for the 3DS version, you move the camera with either the right analog nub or by dragging the touch screen on the bottom screen. It’s not as intuitive as the Switch controls, obviously, but it still works. However, what you will find on both versions of the game is some absolutely solid perception-based puzzling and plenty of charm.

Each level is beautifully crafted and meticulously planned out, with a number of them throwing in their own unique mechanics. The first episode acts as sort of an introduction to many of the puzzle mechanics and is fairly simple overall. For those of you aiming for 100% completion, though, Captain Toad offers up a good challenge in the form of hidden collectibles around the environment and bonus challenges to complete. Episode 2 and onward thankfully picks up the slack as well, with a slightly higher difficulty in some levels — which was much appreciated. My favorite level was easily 3-10 (Multi Vator Mayhem), simply because it let me drop four toads off a high ledge and it sounded wonderful.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker review

Quality toad sounds from Samantha Kelly aside, not all the levels are wonderful. A good number of them re-use a lot of the same puzzle concepts with a slight twist, which definitely felt like padding at times. Then you have some trash-tier levels as well, such as Drop-Road Dash and Clear Pipe Puzzleplex. These levels, in particular, throw the perception-based puzzle solving out the window in favor of dumb gimmicks. Drop-Road Dash is an entire stage dedicated to a collapsible pathway floating in the sky filled with enemies that you simply run through. Clear Pipe Puzzleplex is an entire stage dedicated to going through clear pipes filled with enemies, all while moving non-stop.

Playing Clear Pipe Puzzleplex for the first time, I didn’t realize you had to hold the analog stick in the direction you wanted to turn next while going through the pipes. Instead, I was trying to flick the analog stick in the direction once I was near or at the turns themselves, resulting in me missing nearly every turn and a fair amount of lost lives. Captain Toad and Toadette are like the crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They’re great at thinking on their feet, problem-solving, and having diplomatic discussions. But once you put them in an action film, it’s obvious they aren’t action stars. Basically, these two levels are the equivalent of Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis. They don’t match the overall puzzle-solving theme of Captain Toad and simply aren’t necessary.

Thankfully, the Switch and 3DS versions of Captain Toad include some additional Super Mario Odysseythemed levels and they’re wonderful. These capture and highlight the notable Kingdoms from Super Mario Odyssey, as well as offer up some slightly unique puzzle-solving mechanics from Odyssey itself. You’ll gain access to the levels once you’ve completed the three episodes and they act as a perfect end-game incentive. Oddly enough, however, the Super Mario 3D World-themed levels from the original Wii U release are nowhere to be found on the Switch and 3DS versions of the game.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker review

Some missing content aside, the Switch and 3DS versions of Captain Toad look absolutely fantastic. The 3DS version, in particular, is maybe one of the best-looking 3DS games I’ve played yet from Nintendo. This is bolstered by the fact it even supports stereoscopic 3D and the 3D effect itself works extremely well with the perception-based puzzle mechanics. Compared to the original Wii U release, which ran at 720p and a locked 60fps, the Switch version of Captain Toad now runs at 1080p while docked and 720p in handheld mode. Regardless if you’re playing docked or handheld mode, both seem to run at a locked 60fps, while the 3DS version is locked at 30fps.

Whichever version you go with, you’re still going to be in for a great time. Everything about Captain Toad is overwhelmingly charming. The soundtrack is solid, with plenty of levels having their own unique themes, as well as a few with familiar tunes from previous games in the Mario franchise thrown in for good measure. I’d argue there’s been no better time than now to be a toad fan and with Captain Toad and Toadette planting their flags on more of Nintendo’s platforms, here’s hoping we continue to see them for years to come.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to visit my doctor. Because after collecting every pixel toad, I can’t stop hearing them.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

8

Great

Impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.

Dan Roemer
Local video person. I've been enjoying and dabbling in Destructoid since 2014, became staff in 2017, co-hosted Podtoid, and my spirit animal is that of wild garbage. Disclosure: I backed Shenmue 3 on Kickstarter and I'm a current Patreon supporter of Nextlander, NoClip, and Mega64.

Review: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Posted 7 years ago by Chris Carter

Toadally sufficient for puzzle enthusiasts

From the moment I played the Captain Toad minigame in Super Mario 3D World, I thought to myself “this would make a great downloadable title.” It seems as if Nintendo can hear my thoughts, because it did just that.

Priced at a budget level, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a natural expansion from the levels found in World, with more complex concepts and that same beautiful art style. It may not be enough to warrant full price for some, but for those seeking more Toad, it delivers.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U)
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: December 5, 2014
MSRP: $39.99

Don’t expect any meaningful exposition from Captain Toad, because it’s not here. Cutscenes clock in at 30 seconds at most, and there are only a few of them in total throughout the adventure. The gist is that the evil bird Wingo has stolen a treasure that Toad and Toadette have just located, and in her attempt to yank it back, Toadette is lifted into the air and taken. Toad embarks on an adventure to save her that basically just involves solving puzzles to progress, and eventually she will join him and return the favor.

While the story won’t win any awards, it feels like the first legitimate adventure for the duo, which should please fans of toads everywhere. No other Mario characters are jumping out and stealing the spotlight here — it’s just the two aforementioned characters and their thirst for treasure that fuels the game.

Captain Toad is a puzzle game at heart and using the power of the Wii U’s GamePad controller, involves anything from tactile controls to tapping, to microphone use. The concepts are pretty ingenious, including but not limited to: stunning enemies with taps, tapping to change-up platforms, triggering question mark or POW blocks, throwing turnips in first-person, and a lot more.

Each level is what I refer to as a miniature “fish tank,” allowing the player to scan, flip, and zoom in and out of the entire environment during an attempt to solve the puzzle. The objective in every stage is threefold: find three optional Super Gems, solve an optional objective, and locate the star to end the level. The optional objective is usually the toughest, involving side goals like “don’t destroy a bridge,” “stay in stealth mode the entire level,” or “locate a special trinket.” They aren’t revealed until after completing a stage, which gives incentive to go back and replay it — albeit in an attempt to give the game some padding since it doesn’t reveal the objective upfront.

Toad’s gimmick is that he can’t jump because “his backpack is too full” (aw). He can run though, as well as pull up plants Super Mario Bros. 2 style and use them to kill enemies, grab mushrooms to grow back to size should he get hit, use power-ups like hammers and Double Cherries to clone himself a la 3D World, and utilize a minecart with an infinite turnip supply to chuck at enemies. There are also a ton of different concepts like boost pads, donut blocks, and a mix of classic Mario objects and new surprises. The minecart bit is probably my favorite of the bunch, and the first-person viewpoint works in the game’s favor because it feels so unique. I would easily pay something like $10 for a game that consisted entirely of minecart levels. While there are boss stages and they are often the highlight of any given string of puzzles, they are basically just regular levels with said boss adding some extra chaos to the mix.

As a general rule the controls are pretty great, and I had little problem getting Toad to do what I wanted. If you haven’t played the Wii U a ton it can be jarring to go back and forth from touching and looking at the GamePad to looking at the TV, but after a period of time you’ll either get used to it, or just learn to use the pad entirely. The part I really don’t like about the controls is the forced use of the GamePad’s accelerometer feature, which can often be used accidentally while holding the pad. While it doesn’t get to the point of ruining levels consistently, it’s annoying in that I can’t turn it off completely, since I wholly use the right analog stick to control the camera anyway.

It’s clear that Nintendo had a therapeutic goal in mind with Toad, because even during some of the more difficult levels the game is far from stressful or aggravating. This is especially evident when taking into account that players keep whichever Super Gems were collected during the same run. In other words, there’s no worries if you get a tough to reach Gem then fall off a cliff, as long as you complete the stage eventually with the amount of lives you have left you won’t have to obtain it again. The game also tracks the highest coin run on top of all the tertiary goals, so it’s perfect to occasionally run through past levels again.

The stress-free nature can work against it though. After completing the game I couldn’t help but want more. While a lot of the mechanics in each level were a joy to see for the first time, after repeated play sessions some of them lost their luster, as the gimmick was basically a one-time thing. I even breezed through a few levels and roasted every goal on the first try, which led to the occasional bout of disappointment. While every new world feels fresh in its own way, there are a handful that are a half-measure when it comes to challenging the player.

In terms of content, there are a little over 70 stages to tackle, including some bonus 3D World remakes (for those who have a World save file), which lightly modify the level to accommodate for Toad’s lack of jumping. In essence these levels will take roughly 10 minutes to beat, and 30 minutes to completely master with all goals completed. There are also bonus stages to earn extra coins and lives, but those only take a few minutes and pop up sparingly.

As a result, even with the lower price-point, you may feel underwhelmed by what’s in the box if you don’t absolutely love solving puzzles. There is amiibo support of some kind planned for a day-one update, and you’ll find coverage of what that entails here at a future date — for now we’re in the dark.

Captain Toad is an experience that doesn’t attempt to really wow you, but instead delivers consistent puzzle experiences at a rapid pace. There’s more Nintendo could have done with it, but it is a puzzler in its purest form, and that will be more than enough for people who wanted more of the titular hero after playing the bonus games in 3D World.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

8

Great

Impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.

Chris Carter
Reviews Director, Co-EIC - Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff!