Eager to fly the fungi-boxed coop from Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad has packed up his oversized rucksack and is ready for a new solo adventure in Treasure Tracker. With over 70 levels bursting at the seams with adorable charm and intrigue, Captain Toad shines just as bright as those collectable gems and his tiny torchlight.
First introduced in the Super Mario Galaxy games, Captain Toad has certainly made a name for himself over the past number of years. As Captain of the Toad Brigade, he’s helped Mario return from numerous escapades and seen his fair share of horrors in the Mushroom Kingdom. Though he’ll shiver with trepidation, and look too cute to describe while doing so, the Captain will never shy away from an adventure – even though he can’t jump – particularly if it contains treasure in the shape of gold coins, stars and sparkling gems. And with his plucky, pigtailed friend Toadette in tow, there’s no stopping the duo from collecting a tidy treasure hoard and those end level gold stars from antagonists Kamek, Draggadon and Wingo.
As it stands, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker features three episodes and a bonus section. The first two episodes will pit you against 18 capture-the-star cubic levels as Toad or Toadette, with the third episode taking fellow treasure hunters through a further 28 levels. Ranging from traditional cubic areas seen in Super Mario 3D World to mine cart levels, boss keeps and Luigi Mansion-stylised areas, the game’s great pace, consistent variation and well-polished levels provide solid fun for all ages. And while many of the levels are, perhaps, too simplistic for adults, the game’s bonus challenges and gem hunting often requires replaying sections which are, in their own right, the best and most ingenious parts of the game.
Reliant on the Wii U GamePad as its sole controller, Treasure Tracker probably doesn’t utilise the second screen enough. Yet despite this, Nintendo has included a few levels which take the action entirely onto the GamePad. It just feels so natural throughout the three mine cart levels to get your turnips at the ready and move the GamePad’s gyroscope in different directions. There’s a real sense of excitement here as you try to hit every POW block, Para-Biddybud and coin box in sight from a first or third-person perspective, depending on your preference. And while you’re knee deep in an endless supply of turnips from a magical Mary Poppins cart, the TV screen will only track your progress and display the superbly designed backgrounds. It’s in these moments that the game is at home in off-TV play on the smaller screen.
Aside from the mine cart areas, the game’s best levels are often ones that feature the simplest of mechanics. Double Cherry Palace and Double Cherry Spires will bring back the Cherry item for some double Toad-in-the-hole trouble, while the Hammer item can be whipped out for some amusing fungi frenzy. Other levels such as Clear Pipe Puzzleplex, Floaty Fun Water Park and Twisty-Turny Planet will have you thinking outside the box to find alternative paths for gems and golden mushrooms.
Though they are few and far between, Treasure Tracker features a few dozy levels; where Toad moves from canon to canon in Poison Canal Canyon Run or endlessly uses spinwheels as a tried and tested method in Spinwheel Library. Sometimes it’s just as easy to sit back, become idle, and watch Toad or Toadette take a nap on the grass, clap excitedly when they meet up with the Toad Brigade or shiver uncontrollably when frightened. The game’s full of tiny, cute as a button mushroom moments that make the game a joy to play.
Owning Super Mario 3D World save data on your Wii U console will unlock an extra four levels after firing up the game, but even without the save data, you’ll be able to unlock them on completing the final episode. Though Treasure Tracker’s bonus levels offer new objectives, they are limited to previously played levels, making them somewhat repetitive. It’s a real shame the game ends just as you’re warming up for some lengthier levels with meatier challenges – 10 to 15 hours may be a perfect gem for youngsters but severely lacks in content as a full retail game for the more experienced player.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker merely scratches the surface in terms of length, but its puzzle variety and adorable animations will have you hooked from the moment you pick up and play. Needless to say, there’s mushroom for growth.