In the grand pantheon of the Mushroom Kingdom, Toad barely registers at all. Despite his brief turn as a playable hero in entries like Super Mario Bros. 2, Toad and his kin are far more likely to be relegated to roles such as royal attendant, shop owner, or some other brand of (vaguely) helpful NPC. Sure, he always shows up and holds his own in a tennis match or go-kart race, but he’s seldom the character you want to rely on when the chips are down. In the absence of a more apt descriptor, Toad is a different kind of adventurer; thankfully, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a different kind of adventure.
Originally released on the Wii U in 2014—and out this week on the 3DS and Nintendo Switch—Treasure Tracker builds on the Captain Toad environmental puzzlers included in Super Mario 3D World. Unable to run or jump, Toad simply trudges along multi-level mini-maps, discovering treasure while avoiding obstacles and enemies.
He is aided in this journey by power-ups like pickaxes and toss-able turnips, which can be used to break bricks and bash baddies such as the classic Shy Guys, but the strongest weapon in his arsenal is a camera that can be adjusted to survey every block of these enchantingly minimalistic worlds.
Along the way, you’ll climb and slide, use the touchscreen to lift and rotate platforms, and find ample hidden coins, all in your world-spanning journey to recover shimmering Super Gems, Power Stars, and your recently abducted homegirl, Toadette. You’ll face enemies from simple Goombas to the massive, swooping boss-bird Wingo, but the real challenge is the levels themselves.
Whether calculating enemy movement patterns or searching for concealed shortcuts, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is all about environmental awareness—so be prepared to play levels numerous times. Multiple playthroughs unlock bonus objectives like optional mission parameters and a secondary Pixel Toad mode that hides a new sticker somewhere in your previously trod environments.
If you played through Captain Toad on the Wii U, you likely remember its undeniable brand of effortless family fun, and I’m pleased to report that every iota of that arrives intact on the Switch. The charming soundtrack and candy-colored visuals are even better than I recalled, and this title works perfectly as a take-it-with-you console adventure.
It also includes new content like a special two-player co-op Joy-Con mode (wherein player one controls Toad while player two provides helpful cover fire) and expanded amiibo support. If you own a Super Mario Odyssey series amiibo, you can even use it to immediately unlock a brand new spate of SMO-themed levels, but if you don’t, fear not; this content can also be unlocked via regular gameplay.
Look, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker isn’t the biggest name Wii U-to-Switch port (I’m looking at you, Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe), nor does it command the same level of rabid fanboyism as, say, Super Smash Bros. Hell, it’s not even the Switch’s major release of the week—that honor goes to Octopath Traveler, which I’ll talk more about tomorrow.
What it is, though, is a beautiful, accessible, budget-priced title that’s sure to please your gamer family. Much like Toad himself, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a strange and different little animal that’s likely to bring a smile to your face when you least expect it.
Review materials provided by: Nintendo of America