Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Review
Captain Toad delivers a nice surprise for puzzle enthusiasts.
I love Nintendo. They have put out some quality games and systems through history. As new generations have come, they have relied more on quality gameplay experiences over fancy graphics, and I feel they've been all the better for it. Many a hardcore gamer will disagree, but I feel that by taking the focus off of having to have the most amazing graphics, Nintendo has allowed new experiences to emerge that we wouldn't see if all the Big Three only cared about realism.
Even through all of that, though, I couldn't see myself jumping for joy over Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Having begun as a series of mini games throughout Mario 3D World, I figured I'd seen everything there was to see. It was sold as a budget title as well, so I didn't see myself wanting to pick this one up.
One thing changed this all, though: my three year old son. Yes, he's a bit young for games, but he and his eight year old brother are really loving being a part of their father's hobby. They were looking through catalogs thinking about what they wanted for Christmas, and his eyes lit up as he saw Captain Toad. We figured "why not" and his eyes lit up just as much opening it on Christmas Day.
We plugged it in, and to be honest, it felt right up his alley. The levels were simple enough that I could beat them in one shot, and didn't even know that there was a "small" version of Captain Toad until fifteen levels in. But the game's main menu is set up like a book, and after two sessions with the game, I saw we were coming to the end.
Mind you, the "final levels" require a bit more than a three-year-old's strategy, so I helped him some more there, and I was disheartened as the final boss was defeated and the credits rolled. He was happy and went on his merry way. Meanwhile, I was thinking "Nintendo thought this was even worth a budget title? It's not even 20 levels!" Then, another book dropped. And while the story was similar, new levels opened up where the challenge was upped.
Captain Toad's simple puzzle mechanics allowed my son to have fun, and the credit roll smartly wraps up the story for someone who might have difficulty with harder levels, then the game opens up for people who want more of a challenge. This changed the game from a "kinda fun for kids" experience into a true Nintendo gem for me.
Each bite-sized level can fit on one screen. While enemies look familiar to those accustomed to Mario games, Captain Toad's lack of jumping ability forces you to find different ways to defeat them. Super Mario 2 turnips return to help him thwart the enemies, and timing falls from higher platforms right can result in defeated enemies. It won't take more than a couple minutes to beat each level, making the game short even after the extension, but the addition of a secret goal and three hidden gems in each level give the game a hint of replayability. Once you beat a level and learn the hidden goal, though, it won't take many attempts to get it. A few levels deviate from this pattern, such as a first person minecart ride, and they provide a little deviation from the formula. For those who own Mario 3D World, some extra levels from that game will unlock, and you get to experience them from Captain Toad's viewpoint. While a fun bonus, you can tell that game was made for people who can jump. Basic platforms that can easily be hopped on require an extra ladder or walk around to succeed. But, this is an added bonus, not necessarily an intended feature, and it's nice that it exists rather than not.
For a parent, Captain Toad is an easy pick up. The first third of the game allows a younger child to enjoy it, while the rest fleshes out for the older kids and adults. Without youth in the picture, getting past that first third opens up more of what you would expect from a Nintendo puzzler. And at a budget price, it's hard not to give Captain Toad a try.
I give it a 4.25/5