Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U)
Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD Tokyo Group No. 2 & 1-Up Studio
Publisher(s) – Nintendo
Director(s) – Kenta Motokura & Shinya Hiratake
Producer – Koichi Hayashida
Building upon the innovative mini game found in Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker follows the long-running supporting Super Mario character Toad (in the first game whereby the character has served as the main protagonist since 1994’s Wario’s Woods for the NES), as he resolves to collect treasure and rescue his own damsel in distress; Toadette. Treasure Tracker to me, marks the launch of yet another extremely enjoyable Super Mario spin-off series, and I would highly recommend it to anyone in possession of a Wii U.
Graphics – 9/10
The game is filled with a plethora of varied, and at times extremely lush-looking stage designs; levels such as Clear Pipe Puzzleplex and especially Midnight in the Wandering Woods certainly stand out. But it’s also interesting to be able to identify what influence Nintendo have taken from not only past games in their own library, but from Arabian culture throughout. The obvious one to me was the original variant of Super Mario Bros 2 that stayed in Japan, called Doki Doki Panic. Instead of being sucked into a dream, like Mario and company are in Super Mario Bros 2, the four characters of Doki Doki Panic are instead sucked into a book, and the Arabian tableau is the setting of the story; an obvious nod to the book One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. The fact that each of the levels are also set out as chapters in books in Treasure Tracker would seem to corroborate on this. The level in which this is most evident, however, is Double Cherry Spires in the second book. The architecture of the buildings and spires is quite clearly influenced by Arabian or Indian architecture, bearing a striking resemblance to buildings such as the Taj Mahal for example.
Gameplay – 8/10
The game’s play revolves around Toad travelling a series of cube-shaped stages in search of three diamonds, and to fulfil one other additional objective within each level, and then finishing the stage by collecting the gold star. It is extremely enjoyable to say the least, containing a half-decent amount of substance for a linear game. I do however think there is room to add more, but I believe that could be something to be saved for a possible sequel, and I do indeed hope there will be one after playing this game. Initially, I thought that there was an element of false advertisement on Nintendo's part, as I thought that the bonus book was only available if players already had a save file of Super Mario 3D World on their Wii U, and there would have only been 64 courses available otherwise, whilst the back of the box states that there are over 70. But the bonus book is also made available after players complete the first three books too, and there is indeed a bare minimum of 74 courses available.
Controls – 10/10
Much to my surprise, there isn’t really a bad thing I can say about the game’s control scheme. Upon first glace at Treasure Tracker during E3, I half-suspected that there would inevitably be issues with camera angles, and that obstruction would inadvertently pay a huge part in this game. But I was fortunately very much appeased with how well that issue has been handled overall.
Lifespan – 6/10
Taking everything in the game to do into account, this title will last about 8 hours in all. It is somewhat below par for the average Nintendo title, but what needs to be considered is that time game is very much a question of trial and error, and as I said, there is room for much more to do. At the moment, that’s why I’m hoping that this will be where a sequel could come in. Like any good idea, Treasure Tracker is worth building upon and developing, and it would be very exciting to see what Nintendo decide to do with it if they ever release a second game. But for something that started out as a simple mini game, I don’t see any reason why it should lose out on too many marks for making it last as long as it does.
Storyline – 5/10
The story behind the game is that Captain Toad and his partner Toadette are on a treasure hunt when Toadette is suddenly captured by a towering and treasure-hungry bird called Wingo, thereby compelling Toad to defeat him and save Toadette. As a game associated with the Mario franchise, the story is very archetypical of most stories that have been seen in games of the franchise; a white knight resolve to save his damsel in distress from an evil tyrant. Although my next argument will contain spoiler alerts, I don’t think players will be missing much regardless. The only unique thing about the story is how later on, the roles are reversed, so that it’s Toadette out to save Toad from Wingo, and then the two of them escape separately, resolve to find another, and then set out defeat Wingo once and for all. These plot threads provide a moderate change of pace, but nothing really special or standout.
Originality – 10/10
Though I have criticised the game for having a very unoriginal story, the fact of the matter is there is no other game like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. The gameplay mechanics are insanely unique, and inspiration came from some unorthodox places. The game was reminded Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto of another video game idea he had some time before, which was inspired by the concept of the Rubik’s cube. The problem was that if it would have been made in the style of a conventional platforming game, it would be considered far too easy; therefore the ability to jump was eradicated. The game may have also featured Link from the Legend of Zelda series. Miyamoto rejected this idea, but still thought the game had potential, and all they needed was a different protagonist, and so Toad was settled on.
Overall, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a highly enjoyable and unique gaming experience, and it comes highly recommended from me.Nintendo needed to get off to a good start in 2015, and with this beauty of a game, it’s safe to assume that they have done just that.
8/10 (Very Good)