De­light­ful puzzler gets sec­ond chance at star­dom

Trea­sure hunter Cap­tain Toad re­turns on new plat­form

Lethbridge Herald - - GAMING | ENTERTAINMENT - Cur­tis Withers

When “Cap­tain Toad: Trea­sure Tracker” was re­leased for the Wii U back in 2014, it was an op­por­tu­nity for one of the char­ac­ters so of­ten over­shad­owed by video game su­per­star Mario to get a piece of the spotlight.

Un­for­tu­nately for Cap­tain Toad, his star­ring turn did not go as planned. While his de­light­ful puz­zle game was well-re­ceived by crit­ics, the lag­ging sales of the Wii U meant it was largely over­looked by gamers.

Now the in­trepid trea­sure hunter is get­ting an­other chance at star­dom. With some pol­ished vi­su­als and bonus con­tent, a new ver­sion of “Cap­tain Toad: Trea­sure Tracker” for the Nintendo Switch is tak­ing its place along­side other un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated Wii U ti­tles get­ting a de­served sec­ond chance on Nintendo’s pop­u­lar con­sole/por­ta­ble hy­brid.

The game fol­lows Cap­tain Toad and his friend Toad­ette — mem­bers of the diminu­tive but hardy mush­room people that pop­u­late the Mario uni­verse — as they nav­i­gate a series of lev­els to reach the gold star at the end. Along the way they are chal­lenged by ob­sta­cles and some clas­sic Mario foes.

The player guides Cap­tain Toad or Toad­ette through the lev­els, all won­der­fully de­signed in the dis­tinc­tive Mario aes­thetic, while avoid­ing en­e­mies and pit­falls. But un­like Mario, who can eas­ily leap around ob­struc­tions and stomp on mon­sters who get in his way, Toad or Toad­ette can­not jump.

This makes nav­i­gat­ing these lev­els a strate­gic af­fair, where tim­ing and ex­plo­ration are para­mount. The right ana­log stick ro­tates the cam­era and is a cru­cial tool for re­veal­ing a stage’s trea­sures and traps.

The Toads can pull plants out of the ground, which re­veal coins to be col­lected for ex­tra lives, or turnips to throw at en­e­mies. The num­ber of turnips in a level is limited, so the Toads have to be very care­ful and se­lec­tive when tak­ing out a foe. Oc­ca­sion­ally, a pulled plant reveals an item like a pick­axe that can help de­stroy ob­sta­cles and en­e­mies alike.

Be­cause the Toads can­not jump, care­ful nav­i­ga­tion is re­quired to master the game’s stages. Ramps, lifts and the oc­ca­sional can­non can be used to send our he­roes to their goal.

Some of the game’s later puz­zles have con­sid­er­able com­plex­ity and dif­fi­culty, but the game never gets to the point where con­stant fail­ures lead to frus­tra­tion. While a ded­i­cated player can plow through the game’s three chap­ters fairly quickly, mul­ti­ple playthroughs will be needed for those want­ing to fin­ish the game with a 100 per cent com­ple­tion rate.

Each level in­cludes three di­a­monds to col­lect. These will ei­ther be hid­den in the en­vi­ron­ment, or re­quire a met con­di­tion, like de­feat­ing a cer­tain group of en­e­mies, to ap­pear. Each stage also presents the player with a unique chal­lenge, like nav­i­gat­ing the level with­out be­ing spot­ted by an en­emy, or col­lect­ing a cer­tain num­ber of coins.

Fin­ish­ing a stage reveals a new game mode where play­ers hunt for a tiny pix­i­lated ver­sion of Toad in­stead of look­ing for the gold star.

The Switch ver­sion of “Cap­tain Toad” pol­ishes the orig­i­nal game’s al­ready charm­ing vi­su­als, but the big­gest im­prove­ment over its Wii U coun­ter­part is the in­clu­sion of four new stages based on last year’s hit game “Su­per Mario Odyssey.”

The Switch has pro­vided a good land­ing place for great Wii U games that de­served more at­ten­tion when they were orig­i­nally re­leased. “Cap­tain Toad: Trea­sure Tracker” takes its place along­side “Don­key Kong Coun­try: Trop­i­cal Freeze” and “Hyrule War­riors,” also en­joy­ing a well-earned res­ur­rec­tion.

“Cap­tain Toad: Trea­sure Tracker” is rated E for all au­di­ences and re­tails for around $50.

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