It’s time for adventure!
For reasons unbeknownst to me, Toad has always been one of my favorite Nintendo characters. He doesn’t really do much except point Mario in the right direction and give pointers on how to play better. Despite his limited usefulness in most games, I always picked Toad whenever I played one of my favorite games of all time: Mario Kart 64. My brother would be Bowser, my sister Princess Peach, and I am always Toad. Outside the world of Mario Kart, however, there were no opportunities to actually play as Toad. This all changed in 2014 when a spinoff of Super Mario 3D World released: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. The problem with the game was that it only released on the Wii U, which virtually no one had or ever will. This meant that I did not get the chance to play Captain Toad when it came out. With its re-release on the Switch, I was finally able to experience the game and I had a blast.
The goal of the game is very simple. You must complete each level by acquiring the star at the end. That’s it. That’s how you progress through the game. Of course, you can collect (and must in order to unlock levels further on) the three diamonds that are hidden throughout each level. There is also a hidden bonus objective for each level that the game doesn’t reveal until after you complete the level at least one time. This objective could be anything from collecting a certain amount of coins to defeating all of the enemies to finding a hidden Golden Mushroom. All of these objectives prove to be challenging affairs if you try to complete them all. Even if you do, that isn’t the end of it since one more challenge appears after finishing a level: finding Pixel Toad. Pixel Toad appears as an option upon the completion of a level. In this mode, a pixelated version of Toad is hidden in the level and you must find him. This is more challenging than it sounds as the game could hide Pixel Toad behind a moving part in a level and it may take a while to find him. It may not be much but it does add another element to the gameplay.
The real stars of the show are the levels. Each one is unique and brilliant and provides a robust challenge for anyone whether they be young or old. Each level is like a diorama that you must push, move, or rotate in order to discover all of its secrets. Although you can complete each level quickly, they all will bring a smile to your face. Each one is very inventive and each provide a twist on the gameplay formula. Some are mine cart rides where the game becomes an on-rail shooter, others are essentially a race where you must stay on the track, others require a cherry that multiplies the number of toads and you must use them to solve the level, and there is even one level that is a large pinball machine. As I said before, each level can be completed in a short amount of time but they are so fun that they provide that feeling of “Just one more!” each time you finish a level. The challenges and designs of the levels never ceased to amaze me and every one of them oozed the charm that Nintendo is known for. The soundtrack that accompanies each level (whether completely new pieces or variations of classics throughout Nintendo’s history) add to the overall charm of the game as well.
The game is divided into chapters and this fact had me very confused when the credits rolled after only eighteen levels. I had heard that the game was a little short but I was mad at that moment when I thought it couldn’t possibly be this short, could it? Luckily for me it wasn’t that short and there were still a few chapters to go. There is even a bonus chapter at the end of the game that features four levels based off of Super Mario Odyssey. These were a lot of fun and made me want to replay that stellar game (I may just have to). The bonus chapter also includes two new game modes: Toad Brigade Move Out and Curse of the Mummy-Me. These modes were a lot of fun as they involved replaying older levels with new objectives. In Toad Brigade Move Out, you must complete a few challenging levels by finding the other members of the Toad Brigade and safely guiding them out of the level without getting hit. In Curse of the Mummy-Me, Toadette must complete older levels while being chased by a mummy that follows her every move. These two modes were a lot of fun. They give me hope that there will be a sequel to this game sometime in the future as it appears that the good people of Nintendo still have a lot of creative ideas centered around this game’s concept.
Most levels don’t have any enemies but the ones that do provide an extra level of difficulty. This is because neither Toad nor Toadette can attack an enemy directly. They must throw or shoot a vegetable at an enemy or fall from above onto an enemy’s head in order to defeat it. You can also touch an enemy on the touchscreen in order to stun it or press a button on the controller to do the same thing in TV mode. This is one of my main complaints about the game is that it isn’t as effective or fun to play in TV mode as in handheld mode. For one thing, while in TV mode, there is a big cursor floating around on the screen that you must use to point at objects and enemies in order to interact with them. The cursor was kind of floaty and not very accurate in my experience. It is much easier and fun to play in handheld mode with the touchscreen than it is to use a controller with motion controls in TV mode.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that Captain Toad is a very accessible and kid (especially young) friendly game. I say this not just because its aesthetic is very cutesy and adorable but also because of the way it handles failure. It doesn’t handle it like the Dark Souls games and make you replay all the levels if you run out of lives. Instead of punishing you, the game allows you to play a special level full of coins and 1-UPs that allow you to rebuild your life counter. In addition, if you repeatedly die on a single level (like I did while trying to get all of the diamonds on Ghost Gallery Gambit) the game will give you a mushroom that grants you invincibility. These features make it a great game for those who may have just started playing video games and for those who simply want a relaxing game to play in their spare time. In this way, I think Nintendo continues its long tradition of making its games a starting point for people of all ages.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a really short but extremely fun game. It may not be the best in TV mode but it really shines in handheld mode. Its intricate levels, numerous challenges, and delightful surprises all combine to create one very compelling experience. It doesn’t punish you for making mistakes but allows you to continue playing and having fun which makes it great for everyone. It has all the Nintendo charm that you could ever hope for from its adorable characters to its great soundtrack (seriously, play this game and try not to have its main theme pop in your head at random moments throughout the day). All in all, it’s a game that I would recommend to just about anybody. If you have a Switch, do yourself a favor and get this game. You won’t be disappointed.
Final Score: 8.5/10
Thank you for reading!