It’s finally Captain Toad’s time to shine, and the outcome is a clever little a puzzle filled romp that oozes charm and style.

With another much larger and more venerable Nintendo franchise hogging the holiday spotlight, it might be easy to lose Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker in the seasonal shuffle. A delightful offshoot for the character introduced in 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy and given a set of bite sized levels in the recent Super Mario 3D World. Captain Toad’s levels in 3D World served to mix up the flow of the game, which more often than not was played at breakneck speeds surrounded by screaming lunatics trying to throw you into bottomless chasms. These smaller, insular levels put players in the bulbous head and earthbound boots of Captain Toad, an adorable explorer, ever vigilant in his hunt for treasure. This idea is fully realized in Treasure Tracker and indeed this is a full price, standalone game. It has plenty of that Super Mario charm and style and puzzles that creatively use the angle of vision, but there just isn’t much of it or much else to it.

Treasure Tracker tasks Captain Toad with wrangling three crystals before heading for the end of the level with the loot. The set up is incredibly similar to games developed for mobile devices with levels being portioned off into smaller, more easily digestible chunks. Levels can be beaten by simply gunning it to the star at the end or can be cleared properly by finding all three crystals before leaving the level.

This pachinko mini universe was bumpin'!

This pachinko mini universe was bumpin’!

I think everyone has had an experience with this sort of game design by now. My particular favourite games that utilize the easy to complete, challenging to master philosophy would be Kingdom Rush and Cut the Rope, and it felt like a comfortable fit for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. While the levels may be deceptively simple to just run through, the real satisfaction lies in clearing each one out entirely, leaving not a single thing behind.

On Top of the crystals, each level offers a bonus objective revealed after getting to the end of it. Usually something like locating a golden mushroom, collecting a certain number of coins or stealthily completing a level without being discovered by the baddies. The game is presented in a similar way to Yoshi’s Story, each mini universe is brought up as a page of a book. Levels aren’t truly complete until all the crystal have been collected, the secret objective has been completed, and you’ve earned that sweet, sweet stamp.

Haunted mansions are the perfect place for brain bending puzzles.

Haunted mansions are the perfect place for brain bending puzzles.

All of the levels are filled with wonder, a fantastic sense of spectacle, and were thoroughly enjoyable the first time through. There are snow covered train tops, eerie haunted mansions, harsh dry deserts, and whimsical castles in the sky. Each level enticed me to probe them in their entirety, spinning the camera hither and thither to find each crystal and hidden secret path or item. The elation that accompanied finding that last wayward crystal was one of my favourite aspects of Treasure Tracker.

Nintendo has learned a thing or two about how to integrate touch and motion features into their games and none of the mechanics ever felt contrived or shoehorned into Treasure Tracker. Tapping enemies freezes them and can be useful for the slow moving Captain Toad or Toadette. Levels occasionally have platforms or gears to manipulate with your fingers via the Wii U GamePad touchscreen or puzzles that required blowing on the mic to make something happen. Other levels spice things up by having you pilot mine carts equipped with turnip launchers. These levels are fun divergences from the core gameplay concept, but were few.

The turnip cannon can really bring the pain.

The turnip cannon can really bring the pain

My only real gripe with the controls in Treasure Tracker would be that the rotation of the camera can be controlled by both the gyroscope sensor and the right stick. This led to instances where the camera would spin somewhere I hadn’t intended simply because I re-positioned my wrists/hands. Hardly a deal breaker, but an option to select one or the other would have been welcome.

I thought Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was a total blast and enjoyed it from start to finish, but consistently considered the value proposition while I played. Treasure Tracker is a short game, has less than 100 splendid, intimate levels and utilizes only a couple of bosses that are recycled throughout the game with minor changes each time. It’s not as expensive as it could have been, but I believe the $40 price tag attached to Treasure Tracker is still a bit too steep. There is also something to be said for the over saturation of the bite sized levels originally found every so often in 3D World when you’re playing them successively. Treasure Tracker is undoubtedly an enjoyable game, has clever puzzles, looks beautiful, and the intuitive integration of hardware features feel great. If the price doesn’t scare you off there’s plenty of fun to be found in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Review
Treasure Tracker is clever, endearing and all around just an enjoyable game. The captivating levels all really incentivise you to explore them thoroughly. Some minor control and UI gripes asides, Captain Toad's first stand alone adventure is very much worth your time.
  • Vibrant, enchanting visuals
  • Clever puzzles
  • Great feeling of discovery
  • Camera Rotation Should Be Limited to One Option
7.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Evan T
Editorial/Reviews Writer

Evan is a super serious, real life production assistant, video editor, and current review and editorial writer for Gamer Assault Weekly. A failed knife salesman and former member of a prestigious World of Warcraft guild, renowned for his voice and childlike enthusiasm for video games. Has never broken a bone. Hates possums. Mumble-sings.