Nintendo isn’t showing any signs of slowing down when it comes to bringing Wii U games to Nintendo Switch. And Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is the latest example of this ongoing practice. Initially released in 2014 as a Super Mario 3D World spinoff, Captain Toad is a full-fledged puzzle adventure that stars everyone’s favorite mushroom head and his female counterpart, Toadette. It’s an experience that was tailored for Toad and a man of his stature.
Since we already reviewed the original a few years ago, I don’t want to spend too long reiterating what was said. Therefore, I’m going to try to focus on some of the things that weren’t mentioned before. The game looks great visually and was built using the engine behind Super Mario 3D World, which isn’t very different from Super Mario Odyssey in terms of graphical prowess. Everything looks clean and crisp – the same way it did on Wii U. There’s no overarching overworld or hub; you go through each course in chronological order as if you’re reading a book; you flip through pages to select a level and can return to any you’d like. This simple interface leaves little to no room for interruption during gameplay.
Each stage challenges you to acquire a Power Star, which is usually an easy task to do. But the difficulty increases when you take it upon yourself to find everything within it. Every level has three Super Gems to acquire plus a bonus challenge, which varies from objectives such as finding the Gold Mushroom, collecting a 1-Up Mushroom and accumulating a certain number of coins. My favorite part of this re-release has to be the Pixel Toad mode, which was previously exclusive to owners of the Toad amiibo. Thankfully, this isn’t the case any longer and you can try it out from the get-go. I never got a hold of the Toad amiibo, so this mode was new to me, even though it was already accessible back then.
Pixel Toad is essentially a Where’s Waldo?-style system in which a mischievous pixelated version of Toad hides in each stage. He can be found in the most obscure places, such as behind a removable poster, near the stem of a an in-ground turnip, and even on the face of a coconut hanging from a tall palm tree. Sometimes he’s hidden in plain sight and you don’t realize that until you’ve spent a good portion of your session trying to explore every nook and cranny within a specific course. This mode adds significant substance to the overall replay value; it’s a great way of motivating you to jump back in within the same setting for a different objective, one that encourages further exploration as you take part in rounds of hide-and-seek.
The only substantial new feature is a set of four levels based on Kingdoms from Super Mario Odyssey. Tapping Super Mario Odyssey series amiibo figures immediately grants access to them, but you can also unlock them by making progress on your own; amiibo are no longer required to see everything the game has to offer. While these extra stages are appreciated as content that wasn’t available before, it’s missing the original Super Mario 3D World courses. Because of this exclusion, it wouldn’t be accurate to call it the definitive version of Captain Toad – unless Nintendo releases the missing levels as DLC in the future. Speaking of Super Mario 3D World, it’s a bit odd that Captain Toad was the first of the two to be ported, especially considering how 3D World focused on multiplayer via simple controls, which could have easily been replicated with Joy-Con controllers.
Another new addition is the inclusion of more control options. You can play with touch controls in handheld mode or through pointer controls in TV mode. Pointer controls take a while to get used to since you have a cursor always displayed on the screen to worry about. It’s a little distracting at first, but you eventually learn how to maneuver it and use it to your advantage by stunning enemies and altering obstacles to pave your path. Awkwardly blowing into your gamepad to perform certain in-game movements is fortunately gone, thanks to the Switch’s omission of a built-in microphone. Those particular functions can instead be accomplished by a simple press of a button.
If you already own or have played Captain Toad on Wii U, the greater majority of the game is likely to feel identical. A lot of it is very familiar the second time around, including the exact spots of hidden objects and how to avoid all the hurdles in your way. While there’s still a good amount of fun things to do packed in, now would have been more fitting for a Captain Toad sequel. Nevertheless, Captain Toad can hold up as a thoroughly enjoyable standalone game, especially to newcomers. There are over 70 levels to trek through, complete with a plethora of collectibles and secrets to uncover that will keep even the most dedicated fans engaged for numerous hours.
A review copy of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker on Nintendo Switch was provided by Nintendo UK.