Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Available on Amazon.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a cute puzzle game for the Wii U. If you played Super Mario 3D World, you’ll already have some familiarity with these sorts of puzzles. The Captain Toad levels in 3D World were so popular among fans, it received its own spin-off game.

The basic premise for the game is that Captain Toad and Toadette are both hunting for treasure, but a bird called Wingo steal the star they find. Captain Toad begins his quest to retrieve the treasure from Wingo – and save Toadette, because she didn’t let go of the treasure when it was stolen. Is this a damsel in distress trope? Sort of, although bizarrely through her own agency. (And Captain Toad is no better, as Toadette will later need to rescue him for the same reason.) But you won’t play this game for the story. You’ll play it for the puzzles.

Overall, the puzzles are good. Your character can’t jump, which forces you to find creative ways through each level. You don’t have an attack, either, although there are ways to defeat enemies in certain stages. Your main objective is to collect a star, but there are also three gems in each level you can (and should) collect.

Finally, for completionists, each level also has a bonus objective – but you won’t know what it is until you finish the level. Sometimes you can get them by accident, but they’re often hard to guess. One level might have a bonus objective of not killing any enemies, but another’s bonus objective might be to kill all the enemies. There’s no way of knowing until you finish the level once. Does it add replay value? Yes. Does it also make the game feel repetitive? Oh yes.

I wouldn’t criticize that, though, if it was the only repetition in the game. Unfortunately, while the levels are generally unique and creative, the boss battles are not. When you encounter the first boss, it’ll seem cool – a neat puzzle boss as a refreshing change of pace.

However, when you encounter that boss again and have to fight it in pretty much the exact same way, it will no longer seem so great. This game would have been fine without bosses at all, and if they really wanted boss battles, a little variety would have gone a long way. Fighting the same bosses multiple times, without changes to the gameplay, just gets tedious.

The camera also hinders enjoyment. Captain Toad’s camera only has two settings: zoomed out and zoomed in. Many sections would have benefited from a middle setting.

Don’t get me wrong, though. While these are definite flaws in the game, Captain Toad is still fun. It has a definite sense of charm, and the puzzles themselves are fun. Some require strategic thinking, while others demand quick reflexes. There are enough different types of puzzles to keep you interested, too.

If you look past the repetitive bosses and silly premise, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a great Mario spin-off for fans of puzzle games, especially if you liked the Captain Toad segments of Super Mario 3D World.

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