Nintendo systems and great puzzle games go together like peanut butter and jelly. Yet again, those crazy toy makers at Nintendo deliver another fantastic puzzler in the Switch port of Captain Toad Treasure Tracker. The original version released on Wii U to widespread praise, but was not a commercial success. Throughout the game you’ll encounter some platforming elements, but this is a puzzle game through and through.
Treasure Tracker begins with a precious scene where Captain Toad and Toadette are out collecting stars. Out of the blue comes the bird sorcerer Wingo swoops down to steal a star. He ends up getting a bit more though as Toadette refused to let go of the star. From there Captain Toad embarks on an adventure to save his best mushroom-capped friend.
About as Tough as a Mushroom
Captain Toad Treasure Tracker is not a difficult game by any means. You’re required to stay somewhat mindful of your surroundings, but never enough to induce brow scratching. Having a full 360-degree view of each level with the right stick makes planning ahead a breeze. Even without the ability to jump these levels are a simple thanks to numerous ladders and moving platforms to bring you to higher ground. Most levels in Treasure Tracker don’t feel like they’re made for people with more than a preschool education.
Then I would stumble upon a stage where or you must control five Toads simultaneously or the floor disappears from under your feet. The biggest difficulty I had was with the gyro controls on mine cart stages. They essentially don’t work in docked mode unless you set up a mirror behind your couch, so you can see your tv when you turn away. Just make sure to invert your controls to account for the image reversal in the mirror. I would appreciate more difficult stages, but the balance between the tough and the cute, easy levels is done just well enough to keep my attention.
Did I say there’s a balance of cuteness? I lied. This whole game is a carnival of cuteness. Toad cowering in fear at the Bowser-shaped shadow cast by a cutout was so precious. It was also a bit sad, but more of a cute sad like when a baby tries to walk, then falls on their butt and starts crying.
Cuteness is one thing, but Treasure Tracker would be exceptionally bland — and totally not cute — without the attention to detail given to the characters. I feel that some style heavy puzzlers like Lumines and Superhypercube can stand on their own as good games without flashy effects. Luckily, we still live in a world where nobody polishes a game quite like Nintendo. The gameplay is fine, but the world and characters are stellar. Pressing the X button lets you zoom in to get a closer look at the level. More importantly it also lets you see the incredibly expressive faces of Toad and Toadette. When you finish a level it’s hard not to smile at the sheer joy on the faces of the diminutive protagonists.
Even the enemies have an adorable look of determination plastered onto their faces — save for the Shy Guys. It’s so cute that they work their butts off even though the thought of getting offed by a turnip is likely constantly in the back of their heads.
Additions and Subtractions
Treasure Tracker on Switch has the same number of levels as the Wii U version, however the full list differs slightly. The original came with three stages based on Super Mario 3D World where as the port contains three Super Mario Odyssey-inspired puzzles. Nothing of value was lost.
These extra levels on the Wii U version were ripped straight from 3D World. They were given a few ladders to accommodate the vertical-challenged heroes. As someone who had already played 3D World to death, I didn’t care much for the bonus content.
Fast forward to 2018 and oh boy do we have quite a difference. The three Odyssey stages take bits and pieces you’ll recognize from the 2017 hit title and deliver unique stages. They feel markedly different from the rest of the game and are a few of the best levels in Treasure Tracker.
How this Version Switches up the Formula
The biggest change between Wii U and Switch versions is the way you interact with Treasure Tracker. The basic movement, camera, and button controls are all the same. However, the situation get a little more sticky when it comes to gyro and touch controls. This game came out on the Wii U at a time when Nintendo was desperate to find a reason for the Wii U Gamepad to exist. Many Nintendo games at that time had a focus on gyro and touch controls as well as a dual-screen experience between your TV and controller.
I joked about needing a mirror in the mine cart levels but that is more of an exception than the rule. The gyro controls on Switch are good enough to make the experience enjoyable. Since Treasure Tracker is a slow game I’m more inclined to give it a pass on finicky gyro controls. Nonetheless, I’m not impressed with the responsiveness and you’ll often find yourself needing to center the cursor. When you switch over to handheld mode, these issues become a moot point.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: The reviewer purchased a copy of this title for review.