I got the chance to give Nintendo’s upcoming Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker a try, and it’s fair to say it has easily been one of my most anticipated games of PAX 2014. For as long as I can remember, my favorite character from the Super Mario universe has always been Toad.
That diminutive, mushroom-hatted dude has never failed to win me over with his cheerful nature and can-do attitude in the face of adversity whether it be from helping take on Bowser or racing karts. Based on what I played, his upcoming solo adventure looks like it’s going to finally give him a proper chance to shine on his own.
Captain Toad is less a precision platformer and more a spatial puzzle game more akin to Mario vs. Donkey Kong than Super Mario 3D World, the game from which it is a spin-off. Based on what Nintendo was showing off here, it is clear that there’s going to be no shortage of creativity on display with the final product.
In the PAX 2014 demo of Captain Toad, were a number of levels in total on display, and each focused on different strengths it is bringing to the table. One level I played was called Mine Cart – Throw the Turnips. In this level, you jump into the titular cart full of turnips and are tasked with throwing them at blocks and treasures, as well as at enemies. It’s pretty standard and low-consequence, but the clever twist on it is that while you watch Toad rolling down the mountain on the TV screen, the controller’s screen switches to first-person which makes turnip throwing possible. This level in particular feels more like a between-levels diversion, but it was cute and fun.
Another level I tried out was Captain Toad‘s version of a boss fight. Inside Magma Mountain, you must avoid attacks by the monster within as you climb to the top. As a frame of reference, this section is pretty much the same as the Scarecrow scenes in Batman: Arkham Asylum…only adorable.
Seeing and playing through this level really reminded me of what a singular talent Nintendo is at visual design. People who talk about how the Wii U is an inferior system because it doesn’t have the same kind of horsepower as the other systems make me consistently shake my head because they are just missing the point entirely. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker may not use resources to show off realistic textures of environments, but they more than make up for it with absolutely stunning visual design that is eye-poppingly colorful and completely unique amongst the samey landscape of modern video game design.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is slated for release on the Wii U in December 2014.