If you’ve played through Super Mario 3D World you’ll already know the intricate puzzle treat of the Captain Toad levels. Looking initially simple, these fixed isometric worlds presented a substantial and layered challenge to those wanting to find every last coin.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker takes this seed of an idea and turns it into a fully featured game in its own right. Through 70 levels you guide Captain Toad or Toadette to the goal star with nothing more than an oversized head lamp for guidance.
The game progresses much as it did in Super Mario 3D World, although here they are grouped into a series of books. There is a loose narrative but that’s really not the point. This is all about the puzzling action and how well designed each individual challenge is.
Each level is a world in its own right, not dissimilar from Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS with its equally isometric presentation. Here though it’s less about exploration and discovery and more about path finding. Whether it’s a haunted mansion, library, desert, train, palace or temple location, the end is almost always easily visible. Getting there however takes more time, and getting there while collecting every item takes even more effort.
The action is controlled via the Wii U GamePad and the TV screen is doubled on the controller. You can use a stick or tilt controls to adjust the angle of view on the big screen which is often essentially for location hidden items.
On certain levels, like the mine-cart rides, the GamePad acts as a first person view of the world and is used to fire turnips at blocks and coins. It’s a minor novelty but adds some action and exuberance to an otherwise sedate experience.
Whether it’s the desire to bolster the Wii U’s line-up or expand on this successful formula that has driven the development of Treasure Tracker doesn't really matter. What we've seen of the game so far feels like a fully featured experience that makes the most of these simple puzzles with some clever innovations (my daughter appreciated being able to play as Toadette).
For families this works well with the layered difficulty meaning that younger players can focus on simply completing the level while more advanced gamers can aim to collect every item.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is out in the UK on January 2nd, but hits stores in the US this year on December 5th.