First released for the Wii U in 2015, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a fantastic little spin-off game from the much-loved Super Mario 3D World. It’s a challenging but charming puzzle-platformer where players must guide Captain Toad and his adventure buddy Toadette through chapters of inventive and puzzling 3D levels. This re-release could be dismissed as just another direct port for the Switch, but I was thrilled to play it nonetheless as I feel Treasure Tracker deserved a lot more love and attention than it initially received. Further to this, returning players will also be treated to improved visuals and the inclusion of four new levels based on Kingdoms from Super Mario Odyssey.
The game starts with Captain Toad and Toadette making their way up a tower to retrieve a prized Power Star. However, things take an unfortunate turn when the power star, and Toadette along with it, are stolen by the evil giant crow Wingo. Thus begins the adventure as players must guide Toad through a series of puzzling levels to track down Wingo’s lair and bring Toadette to safety. The game spans four chapters, each with their own storyline and ending. It isn’t the focus of the game, but the introduction does a good job of getting things moving along. It’s what a Nintendo game of this size should be: short, sweet, and straight to the fun.
The 70+ levels are carefully crafted dioramas bursting with colour, each littered with puzzle-platforming joy. The small environments are full of collectibles and secrets to discover, requiring you to explore every inch of the stage if you want 100% completion. Most levels only require you to find a star to complete them, with optional tasks that include grabbing three gems and a bonus objective. After completing each stage, a hidden objective is also unlocked to find an 8-bit Toad. The small pixelated toad will be tucked away anywhere on the stage, hidden well enough that players will need to search high and low to find it. It’s an extra challenge for those who want a reason to replay each level but feels a little unnecessary considering what’s already available.
Captain Toad moves at a slow pace, which allows you to take your time exploring every detail in each level at your leisure. The camera controls are versatile, allowing a full 360-degree view around the stage and three zoom settings to help with navigation. This is especially useful when trying to make your way around enemies and other distractions while also solving the level’s puzzles. The bite-sized levels are rather simple to complete, but obtaining all of the secrets is the real challenge. A fun break from puzzling are the mine cart stages, in which you’ll ride on-rails in first-person and take out baddies with a turnip cannon.
A feature that’s new to the Switch version is a two-player co-op mode, which has two players hold one joy-con each. One player can control Captain Toad or Toadette, while the second can assist by obstructing enemies with their cursor (controlled by the joy-con) or throwing turnips at them. Disappointingly, it doesn’t involve two people running around as two Toads simultaneously. I understand it might have been tricky to pull-off on one screen, given the way the camera controls and how that’s sometimes an important part to solving each level, but I still feel that split-screen could’ve been achievable to some extent, and its inclusion would have provided a better experience.
For the most part, however, Treasure Tracker crosses over well to the Switch, but there are some compromises if you want to play in TV mode. Specifically, the blue cursor that appears on-screen and puzzles which require you to rotate an on-screen crank using the joy-cons. It’s understandable why this had to be done, given how the game originally functioned with the Wii U gamepad, but it’s still distracting nonetheless. It’s honestly better just to play the game in handheld mode where you can use the touchscreen to rotate cranks and move blocks/platforms with ease.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is another solid port of a fantastic Wii U game, with gorgeous visuals, improved resolution, and solid puzzle-solving gameplay. The extra Mario Odyssey levels and two-player co-op also gives this latest version more reasons for returning players to pick it up again. The clumsy, player-controlled blue cursor and on-screen crank puzzles in TV mode may be an eyesore for some, but luckily this problem isn’t present in the handheld mode, which offers easier to use touch controls and is arguably the better way to play the game regardless. Its small, bite-sized pieces of content are perfect for either quick burst plays or binge sessions over a weekend. In all, it’s an improved version of an already great game and a must-play for Nintendo fans that haven’t played it yet.