The Super Mario series. I highly doubt there has been a series as varied and as unique as the Mario franchise. From platforming to RPG, to sport and mini games, the Mario IP has gone through several different genres. Now, Nintendo has re-released a game originally for the Wii-U, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. While Mario and the team don’t make an appearance here, the game focuses on Captain Toad and Toadette, but the general Mario feel is still here. Familiar enemies, power ups and items will draw players in on what is probably one of the more unique installments of the Mario franchise, but does it stand on its own?
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: July 13, 2018
Players: 1-2 Players
Strictly speaking, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a prequel to not one game, but two, depending on the version you play. The Wii-U version could be seen as a prequel to Super Mario 3D World and this new version of the game can be seen as a prequel to Super Mario Odyssey.
The reason for this can be seen in the closing scenes of the game, once the player completes the 3 different books in the game. As per usual in most Mario and spin-off games, there isn’t much of a story here. What little there is is mostly used as a backdrop to tie the gameplay together.
Captain Toad is a treasure hunter, looking for power stars in each stage and the Super Gems hidden there as well. At the beginning of the game, Captain Toads partner, Toadette is kidnapped when the games main protagonist, Wingo, steals a Power Star.
What follows is 3 chapters of Captain Toad trying to get Toadette back, followed by Toadette trying to save Captain Toad and finally Captain Toad trying to save Toadette. Again. Like I said, the story isn’t here so much as a narrative, but just as a means to give the player a reason to play through 70 some odd levels of diorama based puzzles.
Gameplay wise, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a fairly enjoyable little puzzle game. The basic premise is that you need to collect the power star in each level to move on. There are 3 Super Gems and a hidden objective in each map as well.
The Power Star is how you complete each stage. Once you gather it, the stage will end and you will be able to choose a new stage. However, there are “walls” in the game that will prevent you from moving on, if you haven’t collected enough Super Gems to continue the story.
Luckily, for the most part, none of the gems are all that difficult to find as long as you rotate the camera, look about and remember to pluck all the grass patches you see. Some stages, such as the mine cart stages, might require you to play through them a few times to collect all the Super Gems, but for the most part, they’re not that difficult to find and collect.
Captain Toad and Toadette can not jump, but they can dash. The player can also touch the screen and manipulate the map in other ways to raise platforms, pull levers and stun enemies. This is very much a puzzle game and a simple one at that. Most older gamers won’t have much issue completing each stage and finding most, if not all, of the Super Gems.
The real challenge will mostly come from completing the hidden objectives in each stage. Usually, you won’t just stumble across the hidden objective the first time you attempt a stage. You will more likely than not have to attempt a stage twice in order to not only collect the Power Star and the Super Gems, but also to complete the hidden objective.
Rarely did I have to attempt a stage more than twice to complete everything for that stage, outside of the mine cart and on rails stages. Those sometimes required more than a few just because I couldn’t see the Gems in time to collect them on a given run.
Realistically, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is just a fun, enjoyable little puzzle game that won’t require much investment to complete everything there is to do in the game. Most players will be able to complete all the stages in about 15-20 hours of game time. And at 40 dollars, that isn’t a terrible price point.
Just realize that the the original Captain Toad on Wii-U was game that expanded on a mini-game found in Super Mario 3D World and the re-release here is the exact same game we have already received once. The only difference here are the bonus stages at the end of the game.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker features several stages modeled after stages found in Super Mario Odyssey. These stages can be unlocked after the main game has been completed or if you have the Mario Odyssey amiibo, you can unlock them at the beginning of the game.
So yes, if you want a cute little puzzle game to sink a couple of dozen hours of relatively enjoyable gameplay in to, by all means, pick up Captain Toad. It is a solid game well worth the price point. But it is mostly meant for the hard core Nintendo fan or the younger crowd.
Older gamers will mostly breeze through the game in little time with nothing else to go back to. It really is a one playthrough wonder. After your initial 20 hours or so of play time, you will only go back to play the really engaging maps and that is it.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was reviewed on Switch using a review copy obtained by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 8
- Vibrant graphics with a wide range of different stages to complete
- Enjoyable puzzle mechanics that aren’t too difficult
- Reasonably priced for the amount of content
- Lack of replay means there’s little reason to pick the game back up once completed
- While enjoyable, the puzzles themselves aren’t overly difficult. Most players will gather everything in a stage in one run