If there’s one word to describe Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker in a nutshell, it’s clever. Absurdly, downright clever.
The Nintendo-developed (NTDOY) game, which arrives Friday for the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS, oozes appeal, as its mushroom protagonists Toad and Toadette waddle through nearly 80 stages, solving puzzles along the way to ultimately claim the gold star on each level.
Colorful as Captain Toad is, the game really shines is in the design department. Toad and Toadette are an obscenely cute duo, who unlike Mario and Luigi, are limited largely to shuffling around and tossing turnips at enemies. (Jumping, notably, is not in their arsenal.)
But with Captain Toad that’s neither here nor there. Nintendo has smartly crafted a series of increasingly challenging dioramas that pay homage to the sprawling stages found in the Super Mario Bros. universe, whether it’s the urban sprawl in Super Mario Odyssey, or the more traditional settings and enemies found in earlier Mario Bros. titles.
Smartly designed stages that shine
Many of the levels are inventive, forcing the player to rotate the stages around and around to find every nook and cranny, but several are downright ingenious. Early on, the Double Cherry Palace stage requires a single player to control Toad and a clone of Toad in tandem to get through a gravity-defying, miniature Middle Eastern-themed palace and solve puzzles that couldn’t be solved by one character alone.
A later stage, Razzle-Dazzle Slider, resembles a virtual pinball machine, using a cannon to blast Toadette to the top, then having her slide back down to collect coins and dodge Piranha plants.
Each stage takes just a few minutes to complete but requires more time if players want to collect all three Super Gems in each level — a requirement to unlock certain levels and ultimately progress through the game.
A superior port
Captain Toad may be new to the Switch and 3DS, but like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it’s a superior port of an already excellent Wii U game. The graphics, at least for the Switch, are improved, with sharper, more colorful graphics that pop on your TV when playing while the Switch is docked. But the game also excels in handheld mode thanks to the brevity of its levels — something that can’t be said with the Wii U release, given players couldn’t take that console on-the-go like they can with the Switch.
If Captain Toad has any warts, so to speak, it’s that the gameplay lends itself slightly better to playing in handheld mode than docked. At times, the game requires users to manipulate areas in levels by moving small chunks of land or rotating platforms.
Doing so when the Switch is in handheld mode is as simple as touching that area of the stage on the touchscreen, but in docked mode, players must aim their controller to control a small onscreen cursor to accomplish the same thing. It only takes a minute to figure out, but it’s not as intuitive and can be downright awkward at times when you’re trying to evade that Shy Guy on your tail.
Should you get it?
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker may ultimately be another Nintendo port, but it’s an extremely entertaining, polished Nintendo port that offers millions more players the opportunity to experience a game that languished on the undersold Wii U. That’s clearly a win for Nintendo, but also a win for puzzle-loving gamers, too.
What’s hot: Polished, colorful graphics; great replayability; levels well-designed for on-the-go players
What’s not: Some unintuitive controls while playing in docked mode.
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