Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a good game. It’s just not a great game.
I was excited for Captain Toad ever since E3 2014. The Captain Toad levels were my favorite part of Super Mario 3D World, and I thought the game looked adorable. Some fans also described it as a sort of 3D Adventures of Lolo, which I enjoyed.
And I liked Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
Some parts just felt a little… lacking.
Let’s get the story out of the way. Captain Toad is not a plot-driven game by any means, despite the storybook format it’s told through. He and Toadette love treasure. A lot. Episode 1 begins when a giant bird (Wingo) grabs Toadette’s treasure, and she refuses to let it go even though that means the bird captures her, too. This isn’t the end of comic stupidity from our heroes.
That’s fine, though. It’s a puzzle game. A basic premise to give the player an overall goal is all we need, and the humorous elements make it charming.
The only reason the story bugs me is because it’s repetitive, an issue I have with other parts of the game. We’ll get back to that in a minute. First, I want to mention the camera.
There are two settings for the camera, zoomed out and zoomed in. There were many, many times when I wished I could focus somewhere in between. A slider or even a medium zoom setting would have made some levels much more enjoyable. Just a minor criticism.
On to the gameplay itself, the concept is simple. You control Captain Toad or Toadette and go through a small, often cube-like level to reach the star. Each also has three gems you can collect, as well as a bonus objective you won’t know until you finish the stage (which adds repetition).
Each level has puzzle elements you have to work out to make it to the star and/or gems. Since the Toads can’t fight, there are a few stealth sections, as well. A couple of levels emphasized speed and quick thinking, and they were my least favorites. I’d much rather sit and analyze each piece of the puzzle to figure out my next step than run from an advancing wall of doom.
While fun, the most puzzle-heavy levels never seemed up to the challenge of the others. This may be in part because I was bad at the faster-paced levels. I enjoyed solving the game’s puzzles and hoped to see more on that front. It’s no Professor Layton.
In typical Mario fashion, you can collect coins in each level. 100 coins equals one additional life. However, coins don’t carry over between stages, and only a few had coin-based bonus objectives. It left me unsure why I should collect coins in any level that didn’t have at least 100.
Finally, the boss battles left much to be desired. In general, each puzzle-themed boss fight worked well… except they repeated. You fight the same bosses more or less the same ways multiple times. I would have liked to see more variety, especially for the climactic battles.
If you want a cute, entertaining puzzle game and don’t mind some repetition and a few frustrating features, check out Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. However, if you want something deeper, you should probably look elsewhere.
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