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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Review

by Curtis Bonds - December 3, 2014, 11:20 am EST
Total comments: 12


Time for adventure! UPDATE: Now with a video review!

The Captain Toad levels in Super Mario 3D World were an absolute delight to play. The clever, small puzzles proved to be just as engaging as the main game. I was secretly hoping that they would put out a DLC pack for the game, solely focusing on those Captain Toad levels, but it never came to be. During Nintendo’s E3 Digital Event this year, they unveiled the trailer for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and despite some concern that a retail game made up entirely of Captain Toad levels would lose its luster, I was immediately on-board. Now that I’ve completed the game, I’m happy to say that those concerns can be put to rest.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a puzzle-platformer where you control our titular hero, as well as Toadette, as they explore over 70 different levels in search of treasure. What set these levels apart in Super Mario 3D World was that they were mostly one giant cube in which you have to manipulate the camera in order to find your way around the environment and collect five Green Stars. Toad cannot jump, and there are plenty of hidden passages, platforms, and items that are only visible by carefully manipulating the camera, which makes for some very tricky and clever level design.

Despite some changes, Treasure Tracker manages to surpass the Captain Toad levels from 3D World by a longshot. Instead of collecting Green Stars, your goal this time is simply to get to the end of the stage and collect the Power Star. Each stage also has three Super Gems to collect, which you’ll need to unlock later levels in the game. Once the level is complete, the game encourages you to play through it again with a special challenge, which range from sneaking past all the enemies, moving obstacles a specific number of times, and more. While the levels are still small and compact, they are a big step up in size and complexity from the 3D World levels, due to some clever design choices and additions, such as the new ability to pick turnips and throw them at enemies a la Super Mario Bros. 2, and the Super Pickax item, which allows you to break through bricks blocking your path or hiding Super Gems. Careful camera manipulation, of course, makes the game feel like an actual treasure hunt, and completing a level with everything collected is extremely satisfying.

Treasure Tracker also makes some clever, if occasionally annoying, use of the GamePad as well. The game features Off-TV Play by default, but you can also use the touch screen to move certain platforms. Thankfully, it never feels like these actions interrupt the flow of the game, as you’re rarely vulnerable while doing so. I can’t say the same about the game’s motion controls, however. In addition to the right analog stick, you can also manipulate the camera using the GamePad’s gyroscope. Unfortunately, you cannot turn this feature off, which is predictably annoying. Combined with another new feature, however, it becomes frustrating: the game also forces you to blow into the microphone to move certain platforms, so when you inevitably move the GamePad towards your face to blow into the mic, the camera angle moves along with it. This caused me to lose a few too many lives, forcing me to play the game in certain positions.

Another slight disappointment is the game’s presentation. Treasure Tracker is $20 cheaper than almost every retail game at launch, and it shows. The main menu is very basic, and there’s a lot of recycled music and assets from Super Mario 3D World. Despite the stage select being presented via storybook, there’s not really much of a story to speak of in this game. Wingo, the game’s main antagonist, kidnaps a Power Star along with Toadette (or Toad later on in the game), and it’s up to you to find both of them. They recycle this scene a few times, along with Toad/Toadette sitting by a campfire as they see Wingo fly off in the distance. While I know that story has never been Nintendo’s strong suit, it still is disappointing to see such wasted story potential when they have so many characters, locations, and personalities to work with.

Despite these issues, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is an incredibly charming game. Getting from beginning to end should take you just under six hours, but if you want to collect every single Super Gem and complete each stage’s special challenge, it’ll last you way longer. In addition, there are also quite a few bonus levels if you have save data from Super Mario 3D World on your system. If you manage to track down this game, you’ll have a real treasure on your hands.


  • Fantastic level design
  • Fun sense of discovery
  • Great soundtrack
  • Lots of content, especially w/ 3D World save data
  • Annoying camera issues at times
  • Most of soundtrack recycled from 3D World
  • Slightly disappointing presentation


SorenDecember 01, 2014

I need this game in my life.

is it weird that I'm more excited about this than I was about Smash Bros?

Quote from: John

is it weird that I'm more excited about this than I was about Smash Bros?

If it is weird then I'm weird too.

Mop it upDecember 01, 2014

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

Quote from: John

is it weird that I'm more excited about this than I was about Smash Bros?

If it is weird then I'm weird too.

If that's weird, then I don't want to be normal.

EnnerDecember 01, 2014

Quote from: John

is it weird that I'm more excited about this than I was about Smash Bros?

This is the (somewhat) new thing. It's not weird to be excited about new things!

KhushrenadaDecember 01, 2014

Smash Bros 3DS scratched my Smash itch and now I don't care about Smash Wii U so Captain Toad has become the most interesting 2014 Wii U game to me. I haven't even played Super Mario 3D World and I'm more interested in Captain Toad. I'm more excited for it than I was for 3D World, Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8 or Smash Wii U.

CaterkillerMatthew Osborne, Contributing WriterDecember 02, 2014

Don't care about Smash Wii U?! I'm surrounded!

Good review, I'm looking forward to this.

Ian SaneDecember 02, 2014

Quote from: John

is it weird that I'm more excited about this than I was about Smash Bros?

It's quite logical actually.  This is a much more unique title than SSB.  If this was the fourth or fifth Captain Toad game alongside the first ever SSB you would probably favour SSB.

rlse9December 03, 2014

Count me in as weird.

Game sounds great except the whole inability to turn the gyroscope off.  It seems obvious to include that option.

marvel_moviefan_2012December 06, 2014

I am totally getting this game on payday. I will get Smash Bros. Next pay day this is priority one for me.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, January 01, 2015

I know this probably late to say this, but it might be important to note that you can unlock the Super Mario 3D World levels without save data from the aforementioned game. It unlocks after you beat Captain Toad's three episodes. Having a save data just gives you access to the content much sooner.

marvel_moviefan_2012January 01, 2015

good to know, I already have both games.

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Game Profile

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Box Art

Genre Adventure
Developer Nintendo
Controllers & Accessories Amiibo

Worldwide Releases

na: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Release Dec 05, 2014
jpn: Susume! Kinopio Taichou
Release Nov 13, 2014
RatingAll Ages
eu: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Release Jan 02, 2015
aus: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Release Jan 03, 2015
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