Hands-on Preview: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad soars into his own solo adventure!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/14/2014 09:00 2 Comments     ShareThis

Someone give Nintendo a cookie. When I saw Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, my face split into a grin, because I instantly knew what it was: the Captain Toad levels from Super Mario 3D World expanded into an entire game. The reality isn’t quite that simple, but in broad strokes, that’s exactly what Treasure Tracker is, which is a very good thing. For those not in the know, Captain Toad has been a regular in 3D Mario titles since Super Mario Galaxy, and was given his own solo missions in 3D World. As Captain Toad, players plodded around three-dimensional stages filled with clever environmental puzzles to solve. Part platformer, part puzzler, Treasure Tracker draws from the basic formula of those segments of gameplay, and expands them into something that everyone should be keeping their eyes on.

The core controls established in 3D World have been carried over in Treasure Tacker. Toad can move at a slow stroll or very brisk walk, and can’t jump. Also carrying over from 3D World is the panning, rotating camera that allows players to circle the playing field, which makes it much easier to get a grip on hazards and enemies that lay in wait. That might not sound like much cause for excitement, but the more deliberate pacing of Treasure Tracker is what separates it from other platformers. The puzzler nature of the game demands a certain level of precision and planning, which makes successfully navigating the environment incredibly rewarding.

Treasure Tracker isn’t satisfied with sticking to the basic formula established in 3D World, though. For Toad’s newest solo outing, Nintendo has included some new features, too. Unlike in 3D World, where Toad was limited to traversing areas modeled within the framework of that game, Treasure Tracker has a ton more variety. I saw a Boo riddled ghost house, a spiraling lava pit with a giant dragon in the middle, and a rollicking roller coaster mine cart, all of which were rendered in stunning, vibrant detail. It might be a spin-off, but this game is clearly getting the royal treatment from Nintendo.

Toad is also boasting a larger variety of moves now, too. Playing through the mine cart level, I was pleasantly surprised to find the camera swoop into first-person mode, where I could lob turnips (Super Mario Bros. 2 turnips, I might add) at enemies and obstacles. Tossing turnips also allowed Toad to collect items in the background and reveal secrets, so it kept me on my toes the entire time trying to get everything. I almost felt like I was on an amusement park ride! It was a real blast zipping around the track, which was quicker than the game’s usual pacing, but enough within its wheelhouse to not feel out of place.

The second stage I sampled, which was the lava pit, put the camera back in third-person view and ramped up the action. The dragon at the center was huge and constantly watching Toad, all while shooting plumes of fire at him. Toad clomps around the playing field in a circular, upward motion, using different bits of the environment for cover. There’s something so cerebral about the action in this game that I just loved. I had to get my timing down in order to survive, but then factoring in how to snag hidden away items made the challenge even greater. The sheer sense of spectacle was also more than welcome. Treasure Tracker is taking full advantage of Wii U’s power and its visuals are coming along beautifully.

Treasure Tracker has sleeper hit written all over it, but it’s so earnest and fun that I hope it turns into an outright blockbuster. I know some people like to gripe about Nintendo exploiting the Mario franchise, but I’ve always held that so long as the games are entertaining and creative, well, who cares? The Toad levels in 3D World were a real treat, and I’m thrilled that someone at Nintendo realized they’d created something that deserved to be fleshed out and stand on its own two feet. Stay posted to Nintendojo for more news about Treasure Tracker!

2 Responses to “Hands-on Preview: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

  • 222 points
    PanurgeJr says...

    This shows the difference between Nintendo and just about every other developer and publisher out there. Had someone else done 3D World they’d have produced a Captain Toad DLC pack with 10-12 new stages, with no new gameplay. Nintendo gave him an entire game and filled it (we hope and expect) with gameplay.

  • 288 points
    JPtheNintendoFan says...

    I was pleasantly surprised when they announced this game. This is what the people have been asking for (myself included). Nintendo has redeemed itself with everything that was shown at E3.

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