Toad and Toadette are the first Nintendo heroes of the new year, or the last of the previous year.
Having popped up and added both humour and calamity to the Mario games for such a long time, little Toad now gets his own exciting, albeit simple, adventure. The original plan was for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker to be the first Nintendo game of 2015, but eagerness by the retailers to offer this title for the Christmas market ended up seeing the game available for sale from most stores before Christmas, not that this really makes a difference. The only thing that matters is that Captain Toad, and his female counterpart Toadette, are ready to track treasure.
The concept for this full game release comes from a mini game of sorts that can be found in Super Mario 3D World, so gamers who have played that game will instantly feel at home here. The player gets to work their way through more than 70 individual, single screen dioramas in which the challenged Toad, or Toadette, must make their way to collect a gold star and exit the level.
Being that our hero can’t run or jump, and that the 3D levels will involve Captain Toad reaching heights that can only be described as dangerous for such a small chappy, the core of the game will involve the player working out safe routes to that exit. This level of puzzle solving will partially come down to clever camera control on the part of the player, something the original mini-game relied on heavily.
Each level is 3D and very cleverly made, and as the player moves the camera around, routes are revealed that will lead the player through the level. The inclusion of extra collectibles, such as coins and diamonds, and of course the recognizable Mario enemies that often roam the level, will also play a part in the players chosen route through the level.
Things do get more complex as the player works through the levels, with some repeated and ever more difficult boss battles that can be very tense, and new mechanics that will see the levels change according to pressed buttons or a touch on the Wii U GamePad touchscreen. Captain Toad is not completely helpless through all of this as he can drop down onto enemies from a higher platform, or later in the game chase them down with a handy pickaxe.
Through genius design and pacing, something which Nintendo are generally very good at, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker transcends the simple description of being a puzzle game by making the player feel very good about themselves when they reach the goal, whilst also driving them on to go back and collect more of the collectibles they may have missed. The relatively low difficulty level ensures that the game can be played with a sense of achievement by almost everyone, whilst at the same time making it seem possible to collect everything in any given level. The reality is that actually maxing the game will likely take many hours, but there is very little here that actually seems out of reach.
But that low level of difficulty, combined with the number of available levels, does raise the question of value for money. Captain Toad feels like a downloadable title, and the retail price of £29.99 seems a little high for what the player is actually getting. There is no denying that Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is very good, but it could use a price cut to make it more appealing.
Not that there is a shortage of appeal in the way that the game looks. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is simply gorgeous. Bright, colourful and and always with something new to look at, the game has a classic Nintendo visual style which oozes with cuteness. And things never get dull as new themes for the levels are introduced along with new mechanics to deal with.
There is a story in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, one that involves having to repeatedly rescue either Toad or Toadette. But the real story is all about the hunt for treasure. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a clever little game in which players will have great fun helping Toad and Toadette to gather more shiny objects than they will know what to do with. It may be short and slightly overpriced, but the charm and compelling gameplay will ensure that players forget about the price long before they finish the adventure.