Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker review for Wii U

Platform: Wii U
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Medium: Disc/Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Did you enjoy the Captain Toad segments of Super Mario 3D World?  Then you’ll likely love Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker! I know that comes as a pretty big shock, but you can take solace in knowing that Nintendo EAD didn’t drop the ball in transitioning a handful of fun stages from one game, into a full-fledged, standalone experience. My primary concern before playing was how worn-out the concept might feel after a couple dozen stages, but considering I’ve finished the game and continue to play for collectibles and bonus objectives, repetitiveness is not an issue here.

And that’s thanks to the fantastic diversity in the various levels contained within Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. You’ve got your expected variations based on familiar locales within the Mario universe, like Ghost Houses,lava and snow stages, grassy fields, and so on. But the enemy variety and layout of those stages are top notch, with occasional power-ups that can change-up the gameplay when used. The puzzles are never particularly taxing, and you’ll have little trouble finishing most stages. But hunting down the three diamonds in each stage, along with other hidden items like Golden Mushrooms, can take a fair amount of effort to find.

WiiU_CaptainToad_scrn10_E3In addition to collecting diamonds, every stage has its own bonus objective to complete. This can run the gamut of collecting a certain number of coins to defeating (or avoiding) every enemy within the stage. You’re not privy to what these objectives are before starting a stage, so depending on how thorough you are, you’ll likely need to make duplicate runs through a single stage in order to fully clear it. But considering the stages are relatively short, this never feels like a chore or aggravation, and on occasion you’ll luck into completing an objective without realizing it.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker’s tale is broken up into three individual books, which in turn contain multiple stages to complete. Each book is sort of a self-contained adventure, with player control switching back and forth between Captain Toad and Toadette. Both characters have an identical skillset, but it’s nice to see both of them represented here. Both have very cute, whimsical reactions to different situations, through gameplay and the handful of cutscenes contained within each book. That old Nintendo charm is hard to classify, but Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker certainly has it in spades.

WiiU_CaptainToad_scrn06_E3The controls are pretty straightforward, but this is strictly a Wii U GamePad experience. There are certain stages that will feature moving platforms, manipulated via the touchscreen. Other platforms will make use of the mic function, having you blow into the mic in order to move a platform up and down, or left and right. Another GamePad specific mechanic comes from the handful of mine cart stages, where you’ll be equipped with an unlimited supply of turnips, which Toad and Toadette toss out as the mine cart moves automatically along a path. The turnips can be used to hit coins and diamonds to collect them, defeat enemies, and destroy breakable objects like POW blocks or bricks. For these stages the GamePad screen will switch to a first-person view, and you can either use gyro or analog controls to move your aiming cursor around.

I’m not a huge fan of the more gimmicky elements used here, but they’re so few and far between that I found them pretty inoffensive. The mine cart stages are the biggest disappointment, because they force you to look at the GamePad screen throughout, whereas the moving platforms are easily manipulated without taking your eyes off of the main screen. Again, this is sort of a minor complaint, but I certainly felt like the mine cart segments were the weakest points of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

WiiU_CaptainToad_scrn04_E3Of course, when your biggest complaint is a handful of forced gimmick stages out of the 50 or more featured, you know you’ve got something good on your hands here. Captain Toad shines in both visuals and its fantastic soundtrack, which isn’t as overly reliant on familiar Super Mario tracks as I thought it would be. There’s some fun callbacks here, but by and large the original tunes featured are pretty fantastic. The brightly colored world pops in HD, and seeing beautifully animated, 3D renders of rarely used Mario foes is a pretty big plus.

If you’re looking for a fun puzzle-adventure game for Wii U, look no further than Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. It’s another feather in the Wii U’s cap, a system already full of fantastic first-party offerings. The charming adventures of Toad and Toadette are well-worth seeking out, and I’d love to see more titles featuring both of them down the line. It might be hard to tear yourself away from Smash Bros., but Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker makes for an excellent holiday diversion.

Grade: A-

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Video Game)

Manufacturer:  Nintendo
ESRB Rating: 

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