Captain Toad Treasure Tracker is a nice little excursion away from a mainline Mario entry, if you enjoy his levels present in Super Mario 3D World and wished there was a little more to the adventures of Captain Toad, then this title is for you. It has the same great look you would expect to to see from a Mario title and is accompanied by some nice music, although a lot of the time it seems to be some remixed variation of Captain Toad’s theme.
Captain Toad isn’t the only character present you can control, Toadette accompanies him through out the game. If you were hoping that she might control in a different way, or have abilities that Toad doesn’t, then you’re going to be in for disappointment. The story is pretty simple, it sees Captain Toad and Toadette exploring and collecting stars, when one of them gets carried away by a giant bird who is also after the stars and they take it in turns throughout the game to track down and rescue the other.
Most of the levels place you on a cube and have you rotate and manipulate the view so that you can see what you have to do to collect the three gems in each level and then the star. If you’re not really interested in the gems you might think you could go for the star alone and power through the levels but you need a certain amount of them to unlock the later levels. They’re not really tricky to get but some of them you might only realise how you’re supposed to get it after it’s already too late, meaning that to get it, you would have to replay the level.
Replaying the levels seems to be a big part of Captain Toad, at least if you’re a completionist. There are some optional objectives to have your adventure book stamped but you have to had finished the level once to find out what the conditions are, if you’re lucky you could do some of them without knowing what you have to do to get the stamp. Some of them task you with find a golden mushroom or not to be seen by any shy guys or just to simply collect a certain amount of coins.
Some of my preferred levels were the ones where your character wasn’t constrained to a cubed area, some of them have you travelling along a train or riding a mine cart, firing turnips at things with the Wii U Game Pad. The boss levels are maybe the best ones to play but it’s a little disappointing to see the same boss reused over and over, the levels they’re in are still varied though which can make you a bit more forgiving about seeing the same enemy.
Every so often as you go through the game, you’ll be treated to bonus levels which float across the screen as a golden tickets and tuck themselves away between already completed pages. These offer you a way to get extra lives by either using the cherry power up, which clones your character or the pickaxe power up which functions the same way as the hammer power up from Mario Bros, even with the same frantic tune. Even less frequently, you’ll get a purple ticket and while it’s still an opportunity to get lives, this time you’ll be tasked with navigating a maze to find the 1-UP mushrooms as a purple shadow character follows behind, getting ever closer and you’ll have to avoid making any missteps to so you don’t get caught by your shadowy doppelganger.
The Wii U Game Pad sometimes has its uses during play, some levels require you to tap on the screen to change the position of an object or use it to aim at things by moving it around. I found the motion controls to make things a little harder than they needed to be so I simply used the control stick to aim. You can also blow into the microphone to make some of the platforms move or use the touch screen to halt an enemy so that you can pass. The use of the Wii U Game Pad serves the game well and adds some nice touches but it felt a little under utilised when compared to Super Mario 3D World, I was also tempted to keep looking down at it to play the game rather than at the TV so there were times when it felt like I was playing a handheld and not a console.
One of my major criticisms is that the camera is terrible. A lot of the time Toad will disappear behind something and you’ll have to manually adjust the camera to be able to see him. It’s not so bad in itself, except for the levels when you have to hurry around because something is chasing you or you need to quickly avoid something and even taking that brief moment to adjust the camera can mean you lose a life. Those scenarios, while they only occur in a small number of levels, they can still be fairly irritating.
The camera also isn’t particularly helpful in that sometimes even after moving it around, Toad is too difficult to see or you can’t see him at all, just his shadow and you don’t know what you’re walking on or where you’re going. Even the zoom function doesn’t help because it doesn’t eliminate the problem, for example when Toad is behind a wall, typically I would expect the zoom function to give a little x-ray of what I’m looking at so I can actually see what I’m doing but it just gives a close up of the wall.
Thankfully if you do happen to lose a lot of lives, be it your struggles with the camera or something else, getting game over means very little. You’ll be put in a little tunnel with the opportunity to gain some extra lives and you’ll be back at the level you got game over on, minus any gems you’d collected so far. If it’s the enemies you have difficulty with, dying a few times in a row will provide you with an invulnerability item to make things a little easier. Like in previous Mario titles however, the choice to use this power up is there, so you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to.
The game can be fun at times and is nice to look at, but the camera obstructs play too often and the puzzles are a little too easy. If you really wanted to, you could probably finish it in one sitting.
If you have Super Mario 3D World save data, you can replay a selection of levels as Captain Toad but it’s not even close to the best way to play that game.
While it was okay to play, I feel like this should have stayed a mini-game inside a full fledged Mario game. If you haven’t played it yet, get Super Mario 3D World instead, you’ll probably have a lot more fun with it and it also has some Captain Toad themed levels so you won’t be missing out.