The gold old Captain is back, but does he bring a new bag of tricks?
Captain Toad was one of my favorite games on Wii U. The large variety of inventive puzzles and usage of the Wii U GamePad made it one of the most unique titles I've played. The focus wasn't on running and jumping, but precise movement that really made everything tick. The puzzles forced you to multi-task, think things over and decide your next move in the various box shaped worlds. Now the game is coming to Nintendo Switch, which left me feeling surprisingly flat. Why? Well, there isn't much for a returning player.
Okay, let me address that elephant first. If you are interested in playing Captain Toad for the first time, then sure, go right ahead. There are plenty of things to like here, and the charm hasn't really been lost. The goal, to collect three gems and a Power Star, still feels endlessly rewarding. The puzzles will see you exploring every nook and cranny of the maps, and the fruits of your labor are always quite positive. In addition to collectibles, every map gives you additional goals to work towards. These can range from getting a certain amount of coins to not getting hit. The developers really keep you on your toes.
With over 70 stages, there is a lot of top notch ideas from the Super Mario 3D World/Odyssey team. The puzzles will see you tapping on blocks to move them about, spin platforms around to make new elements pop up, and touch buttons to unlock passageways. There is a constant variety in these micro universes that will both challenge and delight you. A specific instance I adore is Sinister Street Signs. With this level, the world is filled with secret passageways and you can only see a few feet in front of you. You will have to traverse carefully and make sure that you don't drop unexpectedly, because there are a whole bunch of enemies below that want to see you dead.
The majority is likely asking, so what is exactly new with this new version of Captain Toad? From a content perspective, you won't find many new elements there. The four 3D World levels are replaced with four Super Mario Odyssey kingdoms. Now, don't go and think that you will explore actual levels as Captain Toad like before. Instead, they just created brand new puzzles that can be all beaten in about seven minutes tops. Honestly, I was seriously underwhelmed by the fact that most references to Super Mario 3D World were simply removed. Captain Toad still uses a bunch of mechanics and backdrops from the game, so it just feels like a bewildering move.
In addition to these changes, the hide and seek minigame can now be played immediately after finishing a level. Here you will find a Pixel Toad hidden somehere in the level. You will use the pointer or touchscreen to tell the game you found him. In the Wii U game, this feature was stuck behind a Toad amiibo, which you now no longer need. Considering the amount of goals already present, keeping this in felt more like an afterthought. The only thing the Toad amiibo gives you now is an invisibility mushroom, while others will grant you additional lives or gems.
The biggest difference are truly the controls. The change from two to one screen is noticable and Captain Toad handles it decently. In television mode, you will use the right Joy-Con or Switch Pro Controller as a pointer to do all the touchscreen elements. It felt somewhat unwieldy at first, but I got the hang of it after a while. Wheels or anything else that needs a spin can be taken care of with the right stick, which is a solid placement. Personally though, I found the game more fun in handheld mode. The combination of buttons and touchscreen controls are absolutely perfect, and almost replaces the original experience one-o-one. With the Nintendo Switch's great on the go screen, Captain Toad will have found its second chance for sure.
For anybody who has played Captain Toad before, there is no real need to pick it up again. With just four new puzzles added, there won't be much to hold you over. Unlike previous ports, like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, the new content doesn’t offer an experience that it makes worth it all over again. Instead, Captain Toad on Nintendo Switch goes over the same beats as the original, while changing up story elements completely to tie it into Super Mario Odyssey. If you are a newcomer, there is a still one heck of a puzzle game waiting for you. With more than 70 levels and very innovative ideas, there is a little something for everybody.