We all know and love Toad as Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach’s loyal friend, and helper but he’s never really been the starting character in a Nintendo game before, that’s about to change with the release of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker on the Wii U later in 2014. He may not have been all that heroic in the past, but he’s finally been given a chance to shine in the platform puzzler that has developed out of the mini-game that featured in Super Mario 3D World.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker will be one of Nintendo’s big Christmas 2014 releases in Japan and the States alongside the likes of Super Smash Bros. Wii U, but UK and European gamers will have to wait until the New Year to get the play the game. If you’re in Japan, you should already be able to take Captain Toad out for some Treasure Tracking fun as the game was released on the 13th November 2014, and the U.S. and Canada release date isn’t too far behind it on the 5th December 2014.
However, if you like in the UK or the rest of Europe, Toad won’t be landing until the 2nd January 2015, but at least it’ll be in time to game away the January blues, if not quite for Christmas fun times.
The plot of the adventure picks up with Captain Toad and his loveable other half, Toadette, as they set out on their hunt for treasure and their ultimate prize, the Power Star. However, the game starts as the pair locate one, only to be confronted a big bad flying pest in the form of Wingo, who steels the start from their little mitts and makes off with it, and Toadette, leaving the little Captain with a monumental challenge ahead of him to hunt down the giant bird, wrestle the Power Star from it and rescue his lovely toadstool lady.
The gameplay is very similar to that of the mini-games in Super Mario 3D World, with Captain Toad trying to make his way through a series of platform puzzle levels in order to get closer to his planned rescue attempt finale. However, unlike other Mario games, the Captain is pretty limited in terms of what he can do. Not only does he have no power-ups to boast of, but he can’t even jump, so negotiating him through the levels is going to be pretty puzzling to work out.
Essentially, you control Captain Toad and you’ll need to manoeuvre the little fellow safely through all of the obstacles in each level to make it to the gold star at the end. Using the Wii U Controller in a number of different ways you’ll need to use the multi-directional camera view and interaction with the level environment, using the touch and move control features, to figure out a way through to the end. Check out the trailer below to see it all in action.
You can also clone Captain Toad with the same double cherries that featured in Super Mario 3D World, so if you see a double switch you know you need to hunt down the cherries to get past the section.
With only two speeds, walk and run, the Captain can take just two hits before he’s out for the count, so every step is critical. Collecting mushrooms gives him a return of life, so you can take more hits, which ties in even further with the treasure tracking element of the game as you’ll need to hunt these down in order to make it through some of the baddie intensive levels.
He’s not entirely helpless though, as he can also pull up plants to uncover items including coins and, more importantly, Super Mario Bros. 2 style turnips to hurl at enemies. The only other significant attack offensive he has is the crushing blows of a pick axe, which, similar to the Chase wields in Lego City Undercover, he can use to take out baddies and obstacles that get in the way.
Finally, when you take to the mine cart rides you can change your view to first person with the Wii U gamepad, using it to aim and fire turnips at anything that gets in your way, which looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.
On the negative side, the game is 1 player only and there are no online gaming options built into it, so when you’re done with the core storyline levels that’s your lot. However, there are a fairly significant 70 levels to make it through and they’ll get more and more fiendish to crack the further you progress through the game, so it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
Though the Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker graphics aren’t ground breaking, they are beautifully rendered with sublime animation and platform effects. There’s a lot of lush detail to the artwork, with solid characters, baddies and level structures to interact with. The bosses look impressive, especially Wingo and the fire breathing dragon, and the mine cart sections are a brilliant blast from the past with some pretty cool motion effects.
With so many levels, there’s a lot of variation in the style of the platform environments you get to play around in, so each one is a new experience in itself. There’s everything from Goomba water parks to steam trains and slip sliding tracks, making for a whole lot of eye candy from the simple, 3D cartoon platform puzzler.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker looks set to be a fun new addition to the genre and a pretty tidy spin-off for the Super Mario series. It’s not the most exciting title we’ve seen, but should have enough fiendish frenzy to make for a loveable platform adventure, packed with great puzzles, cute characters, massive bosses and a lot of new levels to work your way through. We can’t wait to get to take to a mine cart ride and switch to first person view to fire out some turnips of doom.