Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Hands-On) (Wii U) Preview

By Jorge Ba-oh 29.06.2014

Review for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Hands-On) on Wii U

The adorable and curious leader of the Toad Brigade, Captain Toad, is getting his very own spin-off game from the Super Mario Bros. series; a unique new platforming title that is set to change tradition with the way players approach the thriving genre. Is there enough content and variation to justify Toad getting his own, full retail adventure? In a post-E3 event in London, we sampled a handful of levels from Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.


 

In the original concept, a set of levels within Super Mario 3D World, players controlled toad in a geometric, cube-shaped world, where he needed to collect five stars to help Mario and his friends. For anyone who had played a 3D Mario platformer before, it sounded straightforward, but the twist came in that the poor adventurer was unable to jump or defeat enemies. Because of this, these levels became a refreshing change of pace, becoming more of a strategy puzzler, instead of a regular Mario game with a different character in the hot seat. There had been suggestions from Nintendo development staff that Toad could star in his own game, and now the project has come to fruition, with a release planned for 2014.

In the new game, it's a case of collecting diamonds along the way to a shiny gold star, keeping a lot of the design choices and complexity of the levels found in Super Mario 3D World. The E3 demo had four distinctly different levels available, expanding the original concept into some new and exciting ideas for the intrepid explorer.

The first level was perhaps the most like the setup players will be used to; a grass plains setup with flowing waters and some enemies shuffling about as potential hazards. There were rotating platforms, floating panels and even floor traps to try and ensnare the unwitting Toad from collecting the hidden gems. One of these rewards was tucked away deep within the level; only accessible by walking through one of the walls into a masked away room. Because Toad can't attack foes directly or jump, the path to the goal takes a very different approach, relying on steps, ladders and carefully falling off specific platforms to get our hero to the right position. He can also dash with the tap of a button, and players are also able to fend off some baddies by using the touch-screen to grab and hold foes at bay, if only temporarily.

Screenshot for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Hands-On) on Wii U

Beyond the opening stage, the design took a slight detour, opening up the possibilities for different level designs and puzzle types, compared to what was originally introduced in Super Mario 3D World. In the second stage, the GamePad came to better use with Toad zooming down a hill in a mine-cart, with the action now taking place on the controller's touchscreen. By using the motion gyros, players take on Toad's eyes, firing turnips at hapless Piranha plants and also at gems whilst on-rails. It's a welcome change to shake things up, keeping within the theme, but approaching the collecting from a different perspective.

The third stage was again something different, placed as what appeared to be a boss battle: Captain Toad against a hungry, probably misunderstood, dragon within a bubbling volcano. The aim? Try to ascend to the top without being burnt by the beast. With the help of conveniently placed fire-proof planels, players slowly get Toad to safely, whilst also collecting those tricky gems. It's another pace changer, and an interesting prospect to see just how many boss-type battles can be played with the absence of a jump button or direct means of attack.

Screenshot for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Hands-On) on Wii U

The final part of the demo returned to the cube design from the first level, but introduced a door-shifting mechanic within a spooky Boo house, where some of the doors can be slid from side to side, creating different routes and a puzzle within itself. It was certainly a challenging level, and just a teaser of some of the levels to come - with careful camera work and plenty of head-scratching to get by!

The control scheme was practically identical to those who played Super Mario 3D World; simply move Toad with the analogue stick, and use the other to rotate the camera to dig into every cravat within the levels. Occasionally the camera will need to get that bit closer to uncover hidden secrets within the landscape, and it works well for the most part. Within some of the demo levels there were the odd moments where the always-smiling chap ended up getting stuck because the camera angles where slightly off, but these were easily rectified by shuffling him out of danger. The second stage involved simply moving the GamePad around in a point-and-shoot fashion, proving surprisingly satisfying and working well to break up the action.

Screenshot for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Hands-On) on Wii U

Graphically Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is perhaps one of the highlights on Wii U so far; a striking gem that simply radiates Nintendo's distinct art-style in HD. The game falls straight out of the pages of the successful Super Mario 3D World book with highly detailed texture work, intricate finishing touches and scorching lighting, yet maintains the Mario aesthetic and slightly cartoon quality. Everything also runs smoothly too - the game isn't intended to be blitzed through in speed-run-esque pace, but from the Captain's bouncy, plodding movement to the enemies and flowing waters, there is a sense of beauty that's a joy to see.

From the first demo level, a grass stained microcosm to fiery, sizzling boss battle, each of the environments themselves introduces something different, whether it's searing particles or eerie, ghost like vibes. The four levels available were only a snippet of what Nintendo will presumably include in the final package, and it'll be interesting to see what other sorts of environments the Captain will end up exploring.

Screenshot for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Hands-On) on Wii U

Final Thoughts

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was a surprise E3 title, and something that fans have craved since playing through a handful of levels in Super Mario 3D World. There was some concern whether the game could host enough content to justify a full-release, but from the sample of levels played in the demo, there is plenty of promise for an exciting new adventure, and a potential series as well.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (3 Votes)

European release date 2015   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date 2015   

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