When I heard the commerical last fall that Toad was going to get his own game, I was shocked. Now, he had been the protagonist in the NES/SNES puzzle game Wario’s Woods. Of course, that was not only a lifetime ago, it was marketed as being more of a Wario game. The reason is that not many like Toad. Spinoffs with countless playable characters aside, his role is usually to get kidnapped alongside Princess Peach or to be the guy who gives you advice on the gameplay mechanics. Not the kind of guy who headlines a game, is he?
And yet, might we have a winner? Because although Toad may not be the most deserving star, this is an outstanding game.
Plot: 4 out of 10
This could’ve been done better. Toad and Toadette (yes, a female analog of Toad) are treasure hunting. They are attacked by Bowser’s cronies, although the koopa king isn’t the bad guy. The villains are a dragon named Draggadon and a giant crow named Wingo.
The simplicity of the plot is just one thing, but the names of certain characters are really lame. We just don’t have a good story.
Graphics: 6 out of 10
Reasonably well-detailed 3D levels and characters with one exception: Sometimes it can be difficult to tell where you should move to avoid an incoming projectile. Also, when there’s a need for speed, it can be frustrating if you ever have to move the camera around. Why? Because you have to move fast and moving the camera will push you off-target.
Sound: 9 out of 10
Music is great! There’s happy, determined, gloomy, and dramatic tunes that all capture the kinds of areas they’re used in.
Gameplay: 8 out of 10
You alternate between controlling Toad and Toadette. Unlike Mario and Luigi, they can’t jump. Instead, they throw items picked up, run and sneak around to get to the Star that concludes the level when it is obtained. There’s often some problem solving to figure out how to reach the Star. Thus, there is as much puzzle solving as platforming.
Controls and level design are done well, though the former has room for improvement. There are some camera problems, for instance. Level design, though, is quite creative There are many types of levels we go through, which increases this game’s staying power tremendously.
Challenge: 9 out of 10
Captain Toad starts out easy, but gets harder after a while. A balanced, incremental increase from easy to challenging is hard to pull off, but this games pulls it off quite well.
Overall: 8 out of 10
Although Toad and Toadette aren’t my mental images of video game heroes, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a lot of fun. The problem solving is a welcome contrast to the more reflex-orientated Mario games. Just don’t expect much of a plot.