Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is an unlikely spin-off based on a mini-game from Super Mario World. It stars Toad as the main character who teams up in his adventures with Toadette. The main design of the game is fairly simple and reminds me of the short but carefully planned approach of mobile games with a set of goals that essentially act as check marks to solve in each level. Your main goal is to reach the gold star that is present in every level, but along the way, you can collect other types of bonus objects like diamonds, gold coins, health, and power-ups.
The beauty of Captain Toad is not its gameplay, it is the level design. The basics of the gameplay are actually fairly simple. You can move Toad around with the left stick on a diorama-shaped shaped 3D level that rotates from any side with the right analog stick. Rotating gives you a better idea of some of the hidden secrets that are present in these levels and it is the key to completing Captain Toad. This 3D view works well on the Nintendo Switch although I assume it would have been the perfect fit for the Nintendo 3DS.
The story of Captain Toad deals with the search and rescue for Toadette. It begins with an intro that sees both Toad and Toadette in the search for a power star. As they find it and attempt to catch the power star, they see the giant crow Wingo attempting to grab it. This prompts Toadette to gain hold of the star and Wingo takes her as she is hanging with the star leaving Captain Toad alone to go in their pursuit. There are a total of 3 different chapters and it all leads to the ending with a chapter set in New Donk City featured in Super Mario Odyssey. This the extra content for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and it introduces brand new levels. Sadly it is also a rather short experience so don’t get your hopes up for something a little meatier.
One of the new addition to the Nintendo Switch version is the ability to enjoy the game in co-op with another player. This one seems to work really well but it ends up making the game less challenging on some levels. The difficulty in the game is already easy enough if you play it all in solo, but if you try co-op, the game gets easier but it is still plenty of fun with a partner. There are enemies present in each level that you can kill by grabbing mushrooms to throw at them, but if you are hit, your character simply shrinks down and you will have one more chance to either find a mushroom to grow up and hence gain another chance, or complete the level in this short state. The partner can help a lot in this situation since they don’t have a physical form but can throw objects at enemies or control pointer using the motion controls of the JoyCon.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was originally designed to use the full potential of the Nintendo Wii U, and while it seems to have transitioned well to the 3DS, the Switch version in docked mode is still a compromised experience. This is why I played most of the game in portable mode since the gameplay requires you to use the touch screen in ways that are essential to the experience. Motion controls mimic the touch controls if you play in docked mode, but why settle on it when you have a better option available?
You can use the touch mechanics on enemies to temporarily stop them in places or to move platforms. You can also use them to rotate objects to reach new locations. One of the extra bonus modes for every level gets unlocked once you find the gold star in them and it will need you to find a pixel toad, which is hidden very well and once found, you will need to use the motion or touch controls to tap it. Simply put, it is more of a matter of convenience and while there is a solution in place, it is better to go for the one which was the original intention of the developers.
This was my first time experiencing Captain Toad so I honestly didn’t mind the lack of meaningful content for those who have already finished the Wii U version. I do understand why some fans feel concerned about it, but there is also the support for 2 player co-op which is something that can add a little appeal to it. Even though the co-op is mostly about helping other players, it is fun to figure out the puzzles together. It is not a bad experience at all and I really enjoyed the inclusion here, at least more than it was in Super Mario Odyssey.
Visually, there are no major enhancements here. The resolution is an improvement over the Wii U version but the art style is what keeps the game still looking great even though it is an old release now. I never felt like I was playing a dated game and it looked as good as new. The frame rate is smooth and the performance was never an issue on the Nintendo Switch hardware.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Review (Switch)
Game description: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is an action puzzle video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Wii U, Switch and 3DS. It is a spin-off of the Super Mario series which builds upon an uncommon type of level in Super Mario 3D World.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is an excellent platformer that has a great level design and fun puzzles. It might not offer much for those who are double dipping with this game, but as a part of the Switch’s library, it is a worthy addition.