Charming, gorgeous, and great fun to play.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a wonderful game that originally launched on the Wii U back in 2014. The game, a full fledged expansion of the Captain Toad levels in Nintendo’s superlative Super Mario 3D World, which had launched for the troubled system just a year before, was a perspective based puzzle game that had players control the lovable Captain Toad, a Mushroom Kingdom resident who fancies himself an adventurer and explorer, and had him navigate dioramic levels with all sorts of hazards, while asking you to take account of is limited mobility, won a legion of adoring fans thanks to its accessibility, which meant players of all ages could jump in and enjoy the game, its design which meant it was easy to complete but hard to master, and its oodles of charm that seemed to be neverending. Captain Toad would go on to enjoy recurring appearances in future Mario hits, such as last year’s Super Mario Odyssey.
In spite of all of this, the popularity of the game was limited, owing to it being, well, on the Wii U. With Nintendo deciding to bring over all its best Wii U games to the Switch for a new audience to enjoy them, they’ve decided to give the same treatment to Captain Toad, who’s jumping over not just to the Switch, but also the 3DS. The two new versions are apparently mostly similar, with the 3DS version supporting stereoscopic 3D, and the Switch version supporting local multiplayer. Both versions are also pretty standard and straightforward ports of the Wii U original game, though they remove the Super Mario 3D World levels of the original, and replace them with new levels based on Super Mario Odyssey instead.
"Everything that was great about the game back then stands true even now. This is still a charming game that’s instantly arresting thanks to its beautiful graphics and its simple but compelling premise."
What this means is, everything that was great about the game back then stands true even now. This is still a charming game that’s instantly arresting thanks to its beautiful graphics and its simple but compelling premise. The premise, which just has you see Toad get through a small level full of hazards, with is limited mobility only letting him walk, not run or jump, while trying to find secrets that are hidden in plain sight if you just move the camera the right way, is still fantastic, and makes for great bite sized and long length play sessions.
In fact, I will argue that Captain Toad is better than it ever has been on the Switch. There are multiple smaller QoL features and improvements that make the game even better to play than it has been before. For instance, gyro no longer controls the camera, which was often an annoyance in the original game- you can still turn it on if you want (and it’s even great if you’re only playing at home), but just the option to turn it off is great.
The more important change is a new level of zoom, in between the full zoom out and the close up zoom in. This is actually the optimal perch for the camera, affording you a close up look at the action, while also giving you a wide field of view for you to be able to take distant hazards into consideration. Once again, this alone makes the game so much more enjoyable to play. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was always great, but these little changes go such a long way making it feel that much more meaningful.
"Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was always great, but these little changes go such a long way making it feel that much more meaningful."
Other changes, such as the game’s support for multiplayer (with Joycons too, at that!), as well as brand new levels in the game based on Super Mario Odyssey (including one based on New Donk City, which might be the single best level in the game across both its incarnations so far), all add to the value of the package with this re-release. Captain Toad has always been a fun game that you can enjoy with family- now, you can even play with your kid right there by handing him a Joycon. Neither the game nor the controls will be too hard for them to come to grips with, and soon enough, you can even expect your kid to be showing you up.
That comes down, a lot, to the game’s design of simple to complete, hard to master. If you just want to finish each level, it’s not going to take you long, and you can be done with the game in a matter of hours. But add optional side objectives, such as gathering all three Gems on each level, or completing a level-specific challenge (such as not letting the bridge, which crumbles every time you step on it, collapse in an early level), and the prospect of simply playing while trying to maximize the number of coins you gather, all adds some great replayability to the levels.
Of course, just as the strengths of the game have carried over to the Switch version, so too have some of the weaknesses. Unlike the strengths, thankfully, these haven’t been compounded. So, much like the Wii U game, this is a really short title- as mentioned above, you can eke some value out of it by trying to go for a full 100% completion, but that’s about it. There’s also not much new added here compared to the Wii U version- yes, we get the new Super Mario Odyssey stages, but we also lose the Super Mario 3D World stages in the process. Admittedly, I feel the Odyssey stages are better, but there was no reason to not just let us have both.
"Yes, we get the new Super Mario Odyssey stages, but we also lose the Super Mario 3D World stages in the process. Admittedly, I feel the Odyssey stages are better, but there was no reason to not just let us have both."
All said and done, this is a great pick up for a Switch owner, whether they are looking at playing it by themselves, or multiplayer. A cheap asking price of $40 only adds to the general impulse-buy nature of the game. It’s a great, charming, fun to play and replay puzzle game, and will probably become as comfort food for your Switch.
This game was reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
Charming, lends itself well to bite-sized and long play sessions alike, gorgeous to behold, easy to play but tough to master, highly accessible, great local multiplayer, fantastic new levels in the form of the Super Mario Odyssey stages, QoL improvements such as the ability to turn off gyro and an extra level of zoon
Not much new has been added in the way of content, the game remains extremely easy and on the short side
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a great, charming, fun to play and replay puzzle game, and will probably become as comfort food for your Switch.