View Full Version : Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

07-03-2014, 12:25 PM
Some hands-on impressions about this upcoming game.

By giving smaller characters an adventure of their own, Nintendo can take risks that it simply couldn’t afford to attempt with its core heroes like Mario and Zelda. Captain Toad is a case in point: a relatively minor yet adorable face in the Mario universe, he’s been given his first solo outing here, and Treasure Tracker promises to give us a major change of pace from such frantic games as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Brothers.

A 3D platform puzzler, Captain Toad’s levels are small yet perfectly formed. Each one is viewed isometrically, and your view can be rotated with either a flick of the right stick or by moving the gamepad around you. The aim is to collect all the coins on each level and find the exit, with bonus points awarded for locating the crystals secreted away behind walls and around corners.

Captain Toad may remind some players of a certain age of 8-bit-era classics such as Knightlore or the original Batman from 1986 - or, further forward in time, a less mind-boggling version of the Xbox 360 indie game Ilo Milo. As you’d expect from a Nintendo game, Captain Toad’s appeal lies in its accessibility, charm - the graphics are just as colourful as last year's Super Mario 3D World - and also the creativity in its level design.

On the stage we previewed, rotating your view around each cuboid level was vital to finding the correct path, while little windows through blocks hint at hidden objects. And because Toad doesn’t usually have any means of attacking (though he can fall on enemies and kill them in one moment we experienced), avoiding the various Goombas, Shy Guys and other enemies is the best policy; by touching and holding them on the gamepad display, you can also freeze them in place, giving Toad a few vital seconds to make his escape.

The few minutes we spent in Captain Toad’s company hinted at even more creative genius to come: there are platforms and chunks of the stage which can be moved around (again, by tapping them on the touch screen display), and just to break up the platform-and-puzzle stages a bit, there are also some other nifty levels, too: we tried out a first-person rail shooter segment, where Toad races along a track in a mine cart, flinging turnips at enemies and coins, and a boss battle, where you have to avoid a giant dragon’s flames and climb to the top of the level in order to defeat him.

Like so many of Nintendo’s games, Captain Toad looks to the past for inspiration. There are clear echoes of Super Mario 2 here, both in the turnips you throw in the level above and the plants you can pull up to find bonus items. At the same time, this first outing for the diminutive hero has a real freshness and care-free sense of fun. It might not have quite the same franchise heft as Nintendo’s big hitters yet, but Captain Toad could spell the start of a captivating new run of spin-off games.

Release date: Winter 2014