If you’ve had a chance to play Super Mario 3D World, then you should be familiar with the Captain Toad puzzles that appear throughout the game. If not, let me fill you in on how these work. The basis of these puzzles involve navigating Captain Toad throughout a maze-like level in order to grab a star located somewhere. Often times, the key to solving these puzzles is by rotating the level so you can see what’s up ahead. Captain Toad cannot attack enemies or jump, so planning your next step can really matter. Sounds like a neat idea, right? Nintendo thought so too, as we have a whole game that revolves around this concept, and effectively, a new IP.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is one heck of a charming game and I’m pleased as punch that it’s graced the Wii U. I always liked the mini-games in SM3DW, so when I heard that Nintendo was making it into a full game, it was definitely good news. How do you turn mini-games into a full game, you ask? You keep it simple and inventive. Each world is unique and distinctly different, both in level design and puzzle solving. For the collector enthusiast, CT:TT is everything you’ll ever want. Each level has three hidden gems to collect, as well as a main objective star. All levels have a secondary hidden objective that is only made known after you complete the level, which ups the replay value. Sometimes you’ll actually complete it unintentionally while playing through the first time. These range from, “Collect X amount of coins” to “Find the hidden mushroom.” There are about 70 levels in total, including a few boss levels.
Thus far, I’ve played through the first two books, and working my way through the third. There is a bonus book if the game detects that you have saved data from Super Mario 3D World, filled with levels from the game. CT:TT hasn’t been terribly difficult, but there are certain levels that were frustrating to play. And keeping up with the latest Mario game sympathy, if you die 5 times, you’ll be granted an immunity suit which will allow you to not take damage. While I appreciated it on the level that was giving me trouble, I still hate the idea of it in general. I suppose you can always not take the help, but don’t be surprised if your kid throws a fit when they die a bunch of times in Donkey Kong Country and no assist powers appear. My biggest issue with the game is that it’s hard to get into in the level itself. Most maps aren’t large enough for you to ever lose your grounding. What you need to locate is, in most cases, easily seen… so the idea of exploration is often lost.
While the game has its minor flaws, it’s still been a blast to play. Captain Toad is ground that this kind of game works. If there was a sequel, I’d like to see more expansive levels. Ones that were too big to fit on one screen. Perhaps branching paths, like with what FEZ implemented, would be an interesting mechanic. I’d like to feel like I was exploring the world rather than just solving single puzzle levels. Overall though, for $40, it’s difficult to justify passing this game up. It might not be perfect, but that’s okay.