Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Review

Captain Toad's three-act adventure is blissful amusement as the tubby hero seeks treasure and the rescue of his beloved Toadette across the Mushroom Kingdom's familiar landscapes.

Frame rates and resolution are irrelevant video game conversation starters. Captain Toad proves why. Lava bathing Draggedon is a portly serpentine critter with personality, the key mid-boss in this mid-quel to Super Mario 3D World. Captain Toad's technical specifications are not what brings Draggedon to life. It's the twitchy nose, bouncy irises, lurching movements; those matter at 30fps as much as they do at 60, at 480p as much as 1080.

Captain Toad has such intangibles, an old-fashioned bedtime story about a plump, greedy explorer so encumbered by a backpack, his ability to jump is curbed. It's told through an explorers journal, each page scribbled with memories on aged parchment, delivering an obviously dowdy three-act structure.

Collecting with spores, molds, and fungus

There is no cohesion – levels just sort of are. Spooky mansions follow desert landscapes which are supplanted by wavy ponds without transitions. While a spin-off of Mario 3D World, Nintendo's fortuitous hero Toad travels around disconnected stages more akin to 3DS' Mario 3D Land.

But it's all so scrappy. Pudgy Cap pairs with his Toadette companion, screeching and gurgling their pitchy yelps as they solve cordoned off (frequently boxy) destinations in a search for gems and stars. Challenges are terrifically elaborate despite their diminutive scale.

Captain Toad uses the full arsenal of flipping platforms, timed blocks, see-saws, and collapsing doughnuts. Everything feels new and this is short enough to not run aground in desperation for some arbitrary length.

Nintendo's release has no pretense of being anything other than a smart, whimsical discount adventure with a bantam twosome.

Size does not matter. Nintendo's release has no pretense of being anything other than a smart, whimsical discount adventure with a bantam twosome. Operation Rescue Toadette and it's obvious counterpart, Operation Rescue Captain Toad, are bright, cheerful, and even a touch twisted. A bevy of hidden items pull Indiana Jones-ian travelers into the deep recesses of these carefully laid out maps.

Toad-ally awesome

Captain Toad is a game of smarts and wits, yes, but also one of eye lines dictated by a mobile camera which spins around corners, as if physically holding a comparable Rubik's Cube. Items are often sneakily plotted out of comfortable view. These puzzles are devious for completionists.

Bonus levels are a mix-in of lightly altered Mario 3D World main levels with those softly toe-tapping, Koji Kondo-orchestrated masterpieces backing them. More is to come for those who trudge forward with the idea of accumulating every ounce of virtual wealth.

Nintendo has been doing this so long, they can churn out extensions and side exploits like this without a fear of having their style slip away.

Surprises (literally) fly in, providing tickets to bonus layouts uber-crowded with glittering gold coins, offering an action reprieve from the otherwise adorably patient tone.

All is set up by Wingo, a blustery, kidnapping fowl decorated with an ornate necklace and hosting a preponderance of wind-creating abilities. How well Nintendo meshes this critter to the coveted, cozy aesthetics of known Mushroom Kingdom evil doers displays their comfort in doing things their way. In fact, Nintendo has been doing this so long, they can churn out extensions and side exploits like this without a fear of having their noted style slip away.

One 'Shroom to another

Topping Captain Toad is passive equality, Cap and Toadette parallel victims as much as they are stars. One of them taking the title is inconsequential. It doesn't work without them both in duality. They uniformly shoot onions, bop Goombas, snatch gemstones, and gesture their happiness in doing so.

Everyone or everything here in Captain Toad is elated and merry, an infectious bit of merit which is sadly rare in packaged console media anymore. This is not only an example of a modern oddity – a full puzzle game deemed worthy of shelf space - but Captain Toad is inherently and resoundingly special. More importantly, it's superbly lovable.

Our Rating
9
Captain Toad's three-act adventure is blissful amusement as the tubby hero seeks treasure and the rescue of his beloved Toadette across the Mushroom Kingdom's familiar landscapes.
Reviewed On: Wii U

Featured Contributor

Freelance critic seen on Playboy, GameSkinny, and others. Passionate vintage game collector. Fervent physical media supporter and consumerism devotee.

Published Dec. 12th 2014

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