Since the release of the Nintendo Switch, the system has seen an influx of popular titles that have been ported from the Wii U. Exclusives such as Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors and Donkey Kong Country have seen a revitalisation on Nintendo’s newest console with remastered graphics, more content and extra game modes. The latest of such titles to receive this transitional status comes in the form of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, a platforming puzzler developed and published by Nintendo.
Captain Toad takes its inspirations from a series of levels that were included within another Wii U title: Super Mario 3D World. These compact, side-missions eventually spawned to produce a fully fledged title that charms with its unique mechanics and gameplay elements; offering a very different premise from the usual Mario-esque style of platforming adventures. The heroes of the show come in the guise of Toad and Toadette, two popular characters from the Mario franchise, as you guide one, or the other, through a series of cuboid levels in order to retrieve a treasure of power stars. Its distinctiveness comes from a series of three-dimensional level designs, requiring you to pan the camera around through varying axes in order to uncover unseen angles, hidden routes and collectibles. The mechanics of movement often associated with platforming games have also been pared down, with no ability to jump or super-powers to call upon. Instead you need to traverse Toad or Toadette by using world elements such as ladders and moving platforms; making your camera manipulation an important element of the gameplay as you seek out the best path in order to retrieve all of the levels’ treasures.
Each level is also inhabited by a variety of recognisable enemy types from the familiarity of the Mushroom Kingdom, upon where each level is based. By picking up turnips and throwing them, you can stun anyone that stands in your way, allowing you to pass momentarily; you can also utilise headlamps in order to stun ghost types. As well as these standard enemies, you will also encounter some boss battles involving fire-breathing dragons and Wingo, an evil bird of monstrous proportions. Each variety of enemy type forces to rethink strategies as you, not only plan out a route to the treasure, but also take into account the best way to avoid enemy attacks or patterns in order to preserve your health; with the boss battle requiring the finest of timings and nimblest of fingers to overcome the challenges they present, although apart from the final encounter, there’s nothing too challenging here. However, with a generous life regeneration mechanic, you shouldn’t find yourself too short of hearts unless you come across a puzzle that is particularly problematic.
It all adds to provide a challenging, yet extremely charming game that shines with its unique puzzles and platforming elements, as well as a gorgeous presentation that is full of all manner of surprises. It contains a child-like appeal that can entertain both adults and children in a way that only Nintendo can. These elements have also been further enhanced with this new port to the Switch, the mechanics of which I shall detail now.
At first sight, it may appear that there’s not much inherently different between the Wii U and Switch versions of the game. However, if you take a closer look, there have been a number of minor improvements that create a bit more refinement from before, as well as some very welcome additions to further expand on the original’s gameplay. Running side-by-side, it’s clear to see that this new version has a much sharper resolution and deeper palette than the Wii U’s offering. There’s no extra textual additions, at least nothing that was particularly noticeable, but Captain Toad has never looked so good as it does now.
Despite only a minor upgrade in graphical presentations, it’s the tweaks to the gameplay mechanics that stand out the most. Gone are the awkward gyroscopic movements of the camera, although you can still switch this on from the menus if you so wish. This produces a much smoother control of camera angles, allowing you to manipulate your views with absolute pin-point accuracy. The zoom function has also received an overhaul, now offering three points of view, rather than the original’s limited offering of two. This upgrade now allows a much clearer field of view when looking at it from a closer angle, as well as offering a variety that should suit most players.
However, the game’s biggest additions have to come in the form of the very welcome multiplayer element and the addition of extra levels inspired from Super Mario Odyssey. With the Switch’s capability of using each of its joy-cons to produce an instantly accessible multiplayer, you and a friend can now work in tandem as you both work co-operatively in traversing the variety of levels within the game. Whilst one of you controls the movements of the central character, the other player uses the joy-con as a motion-controlled weapon; flinging a barrage of turnips and hampering the enemies that frequent the levels with the aid of an on-screen targeting cursor. This adds a nice touch to the gameplay, especially in a family setting where you can join in the fun with your kids.
As well as containing an abundance of seventy or so levels to work through, this new port also includes four brand new offerings based on the locales found in Mario’s Odyssey setting. These can be unlocked by playing through the game, however, if you own any of Odyssey’s selection of Amiibos, then these levels can be unlocked immediately by tapping them on the Switch’s built-in reader. With inspirations that range from New Donk City, Fossil Falls and the Sand Kingdom, these levels provide of the most ingenious designs within the game. Another new feature includes a hide-and-seek pixel toad segment, whereby each level contains a hidden 8-bit version of the character and, by using the manipulation of the camera, you go about trying to find the elusive digitised figure. Once found, you simply tap on him by using the touchscreen, or if playing on the big screen, press ZR to bring up a cursor in order to provide a selection mechanic. It’s only a small addition, but one that adds to the many extra features or collectibles for the one-hundred percenters out there; plus it is still fun in a quirky way.
Overall, this updated version of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker still retains the same level of charm that its previous outing contained. However, with its multiplayer additions, refined controls and extra levels, as well as an abundance of variety in level designs, there is plenty here to keep the most explorative of players busy for a long time. Its bite-sized chunks and level designs make it perfect for a casual setting, with its pick-and-play mentality, as well its instantly accessible mechanics. I’m not overly sure whether the new additions to the game are enough to justify another purchase if you’ve played, or still own, the previous title on the Wii U; although if you’re simply looking for a family-friendly game that you can play with your children, then this is a game that I would whole-heartedly recommend. Saying that though, its extra features and refinements do produce a game that is infinitely more playable than the Wii U’s version and therefore, produces another Nintendo masterpiece that is simply a must-own title on the Switch.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.