Toad finally gets a game of his own, and he does it in Nintendo’s very distinct style. Playing as Toad, you’re off to find precious treasure. You will collect coins, gems, and mushrooms to help you absorb an extra hit while you avoid, stomp and toss objects at classic bad guys from the Mario universe. Combine these tactics with rotating 3D environments, gorgeous graphics and fun characters and you have a must-own title for the Wii U.
The game begins with a simple map, teaching the player the game’s mechanics. You rotate the camera with the right stick on the gamepad, and move Toad with the left stick. Climb up to the top, having rotated the camera more than 360 degrees, and collect the gold star. Course clear! But then a bird flies down and steals the star which leads Toad and friends on a treasure tracking adventure throughout a fun and pretty world. Game on!
As is the case with many of Nintendo’s first party titles, Treasure Tracker starts off easy and gets progressively more complex, allowing the player to adapt to the laws that govern the game world. Everything you would expect, and a few things you wouldn’t, are available objectives in each stage. There are familiar Mario-baddies such as Boos, Goombas and Thwomps. Defeating or avoiding these foes presents a problem for the Wii U’s gamepad: it’s not as comfortable as a tradition console controller and lacks the sensitivity and comfort many gamers are familiar with. That’s about all the negative I can say about the game. But due to the mechanics, which are fun, you can’t play the game with any other input device. The other issue I have is with the Wii U itself. The range and battery life of the gamepad really get in the way.
The music has a very pure, Nintendo feel to it. It’s jovial and feel-good. As is the case with the music that plays while in the Nintendo eShop, it makes me want to keep going. You’ll need that motivation because finding the optional 3 gems in most stages is a challenging undertaking. The biggest hurdle I came up against is the dichotomy between the the gamepad and my television. Touch controls are needed to complete most stages, as you can move objects and platforms. While the game looks better on my TV, I was forced to use the not so pretty gamepad screen so I knew where to place my fingers on the screen. Still, I managed to get all 3 gems and complete the unique course challenges on several stages, mastering that stage and earning a red crown stamp. Gems are important as they are currency to unlock the stages where the bosses block your path to progress. Nintendo created a world that with rules that allowed them to construct fun and unfamiliar boss battles. Yet maintaining the feel of Nintendo’s games.
My favorite stage is Mine Cart Tunnel Throwdown (8). Suddenly the game puts you in a mine cart with music familiar to fans of the SNES class, Super Mario World. You’ll use the gamepad to aim and throw flowers at bad guys, POWs and gems while the cart races to the end of the course. It’s a first-person-shooter mini-game!
Load times are very fast and the graphics are tremendous. The game is simple and feels like a console adaptation of a mobile game. Nintendo brought their usual charm and stage variety to Toad’s first outing. Nintendo implemented engaging 3D space; reminding me very much of Mario Galaxy. In stage 5, Double Cherry Palace, you bring along a fellow toad to help you obtain the star. Controlling them without changing the controls themselves should be a difficult task; afterall you only have one controller for two characters moving at once. But the level design is so strong that you can find walls or other objects to keep one toad in his place while the other moves to where you need him to. It’s quite brilliant.
Captain Toad Treasure Tracker is brief but engaging for players of all ages. This should be at the top of every kid’s Christmas list; particularly if they already own a Wii U. Is this a system seller? No, but if I had one game to purchase for my Wii U, this would be the one. My daughter, who isn’t yet old enough to play video games, is already charmed by Toad. The combination of music, art style and characters makes this a fantastic title. It is strongly recommended.