The first thing I thought of when starting up Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was the thing about Toad not having a gender. If that’s the case, why are there gender stereotypes in the first couple of seconds of the intro? There’s a pink Toad that’s obviously a girl…
I didn’t have much time to dwell on that, though. Puzzles required my attention, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is chock-full of mazes, hidden gems, gold stars and enemies. Taking a gameplay element from last year’s Super Mario 3D World, Treasure Tracker is an expansion of that gameplay developed into a full game. Players guide Toad through mazes and levels in pursuit of gems, stars, coins and gold mushrooms. Toad can’t jump or attacks, so you’ll have to use the environment as your tool to get past bad guys and find your way around the level.
The stages are three-dimensional puzzles that the player can observe from all directions and angles by rotating it via the right analog stick, or by moving around the Wii U Gamepad to look. Using the right stick is much easier, but the slightest movement from the Gamepad can disrupt your view. There were some very awkward camera moments where I found it to be a bit unruly, but luckily the complaints stop there. Simply by looking around, you’ll discover the paths you need to take and the objects you need to move to get to hidden areas or progress to the end of the level. The puzzles mostly come in the form of progression — what do I have to do to get to this area? The answer comes in a lot of different mechanics, such as moving platforms, rotating cannons to blow up rocks, getting a mine pick power-up to destroy rocks, and figuring out which path won’t lead you into the lava below. Mechanics are slowly introduced, ramping up the difficulty at a really nice pace, so you never feel overwhelmed. I especially enjoyed the levels where you control two toads at once where they mirror each other’s movement in two different areas of the level.
This leads to the game being accessible to many ages and players. The puzzle elements are strong, but you can definitely get by it with trial and error. Don’t be afraid to fail and you’ll find a lot of enjoyment in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
There’s a lot of replay value in the game, as well. Each level has a certain amount of stars that you can get, so if you only get one star you can go play and replay the level to find the other two. This leads to really exploring every nook and cranny of each level. You’ll want to get every star because star totals unlock bonus stages, such as the first level from Super Mario 3D World. After you beat each level, a bonus objective also appears so you can replay with trying to accomplish that, such as completing a level with a certain amount of coins, defeating all enemies, or finishing a level without blowing up a bridge. Find all the stars and complete the bonus objective and you’ll 100% a level. Levels are also timed, but I don’t see a global leaderboard anywhere; still, it’s nice to see if you can speedrun and beat your own time.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a wonderful puzzle game with cute visuals that’s accessible to everyone. There’s a lot of replay value in each of the tricky, trap-filled stages. There’s an excellent mix of timing, patterns and cognitive thought to the stages, and things get shaken up with some alternative levels — like an on-rails shooter. It’s definitely an enjoyment to play and a nice pick-up for puzze fans. Outside of some quirky camera controls, there’s a lot to love about Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
Reviewed with a provided Wii U code.