(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)
- The Game Itself
- 4 Stars
- The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
- 4.5 Stars
- The Audio: Rating the Sound
- 3.5 Stars
- Replay Factor
- 4 Stars
- Bonus Content
- 4 Stars
- Bottom Line
- Highly Recommended
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
- Street Date:
- December 5th, 2014
- Reviewed by:
- Bill Braun
- Review Date:1
- January 18th, 2015
- Game Release Year:
- Wii U
Disc copy reviewed for the Wii U.
Quite often it's the simplest of ideas that germinate into the most interesting games. Take for example 'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker' for the Wii U. Originating from a handful of short, but memorable, levels from the immensely popular 'Super Mario 3D World', 'Captain Toad' has earned his value among the ranks of the Nintendo elite, resulting in a stand-alone experience. But is charm and fond memories of a prior gaming experience enough to carry this diminutive character through to the end?
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Beginning as so many of Nintendo's titles do, tragedy strikes Captain Toad's happy little world as his companion, Toadette, is whisked away by Wingo, an oversized bird that is addicted to all things shiny. Determined to save his friend, Captain Toad embarks on a journey even the bravest of Hobbits would find daunting. The only thing standing in his way? Some of the more interesting and unique head-scratching puzzles I've had the pleasure of experiencing.
Therein lies the foundation of 'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker'. A solid puzzle game - with a dash of platforming thrown in for good measure - that solidifies itself as a worthy addition to the genre. Each level of 'Captain Toad' is a bite-sized experience that, when consumed, always ends with the same acknowledgment – "Just one more." Like indulging in a box of chocolates, you know when it's time to stop but can't resist the temptation for more.
What makes 'Treasure Tracker' stand out from the multitude of puzzle games that have come before it are the intuitive, and often ingenious, mechanics that take full advantage of the Wii U gamepad. The ability to rotate the three-dimensional space Captain Toad navigates helps to not only solve that particular puzzle, it also encourages further exploration and discovery of additionally hidden gems, coins, or life-adding mushrooms. 'Ah-ha' moments are at an all-time high when playing 'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker'.
Manipulating structures to provide a more direct passage, or to reach levels previously unexplored, is as simple as touching the gamepad's screen, swiping along its surface, or rotating your finger in a circular motion to replicate the opening or closing of an oversized valve. The results are intuitive, feel appropriate, and are significantly less gimmicky than previous games I've played on the WiiU that have employed a similar interface. It also helps that these mechanics are used sparingly and never feel forced.
While having the option to play 'Captain Toad' off-screen and entirely on the gamepad is always a welcome option, several levels of the game utilize this opportunity in more interesting ways. Whether experiencing a mine-cart rollercoaster ride, or jumping into the seat of a cannon, players are dropped into a first person shooter perspective from behind the screen of the gamepad; blasting away at enemies and explosive brick walls.
'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker' is a joy to play, and the pacing of the game invites any skill level – experienced or newcomer - to give it a try. Never did I feel that a level was unfairly difficult or overly simplistic. The controls are consistent (and consistently basic) from start to finish, and always ease the player into newly introduced gamepad interfaces. Although the ability to rotate the camera angle up, down, and 360 degrees does take some getting used to, it was never a frustrating experience.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Sticking to what they know best, 'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker' employs the cute, cuddly, and colorful visuals that has helped to make Nintendo a household name. Unlike other, more popular, AAA titles that rely on high-intensity action and an explosion around every corner, 'Treasure Tracker's' light-hearted visual approach to gameplay is another shining example of what the WiiU is capable of.
Rotating the screen, altering the structures of the landscape, and zooming in for a closer look at the environments, are all wonderfully displayed and a pleasure to breathe in. Adding to this is a high degree of level and location variety and it's clear the developers at Nintendo took great pride to ensure that Captain Toad's journey was fully realized.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Mimicking the gameplay and overall feel of 'Captain Toad' is the expected and oft-repeated musical score. While it undoubtedly fits the experience, Nintendo's catalogue of cutesy tunes have been burned into my brain, have entered my dreams, and subconsciously remind me at every moment of the day that I should drop everything and play more of their games. Exaggerations aside, the songs that Nintendo creates for so many of their Mario-esque games needs an overhaul. There, I said it. Although this may incur the wrath of the Nintendo faithful, it should also be noted that the musical selections for 'Captain Toad' never detracts from the enjoyment derived from playing the game.
Like any competent puzzle-platformer, simply finishing the game is never enough. There should always be the desire . . . the need, to do better; finish the level quicker or find that deviously hidden bonus. 'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker' is no different. While each level tasks you with finding up to three gems before locating the power star, there are numerous side 'missions' that help to propel your journey to 100% completion. Clear the level of all enemies or stealthily sneak past them, locate every gold coin or find the hidden mushroom, there are plenty of additional objectives to test your skills. The opportunities are there, it's simply a matter of perfection.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
It's a safe bet that most owners of the WiiU have, at one time or another, played 'Super Mario 3D World'. Should that be the case, playing 'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker' for the first time prompts a message that a 'Super Mario 3D World' save file was recognized and allows for a rather nice surprise. Players will have the opportunity to unlock a variety of levels from '3D World' to replay while controlling Captain Toad. A welcome bonus to be sure and one that many fans of the franchise will undoubtedly appreciate.
'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker' is truly a gem of a game to play. It is also one of the biggest Wii U surprises I've had since first buying the console. Who would have thought that developing a handful of mini-games for 'Super Mario 3D World' could turn into such a charming game? Although fairly short, the overall experience is one that I will not soon forget. 'Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker' simply should not be missed.
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