Every year, a lot of games are released. Sometimes they get the correct amount of spotlight, but sometimes they don’t. For me, the most underrated games of 2014 are Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Last Tinker, and this game, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for the Wii U. With the release of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. For Wii U/3DS, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is easily one of the more overlooked gems alongside Bayonetta 2 to come out this year. Nothing against Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros., but I feel like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker deserves more attention than it is getting. The game captures what made the side game from Super Mario 3D World fun, and expanded on it with more complex levels and simple fun that isn’t trying to be more than it is. It is easily one of the best games for the Wii U and one of the best games of this year. Let’s get started!
The story isn’t really that deep, with Captain Toad and Toadette on an adventure to find the Power Stars from the Mario franchise. Unfortunately, after finding one, Toadette is captured by a giant bird named Wingo, and it is up to Captain Toad to get Toadette back! The story isn’t really the main focus of the experience, so how about we talk about the gameplay?
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, for the few that might not know about this game, is an isometric 3D puzzle game. You control both Captain Toad and later on, Toadette, as you traverse over 70 levels. A lot of the elements from Super Mario 3D World from the double cherry power-up, to the touch blocks return to make these really creative levels. I mean, this game does take place in the same universe as Super Mario 3D World, so don’t be surprised that you see a lot of elements from that game in this game. You will be exploring each level, trying to find the Power Star and three gems that are hidden in each level. Each level also has its own secondary objective, which will definitely require you to replay through the levels if you want to get 100%. Outside of the main levels, you have bonus levels where you can use the double cherry power-up or the new pick-axe power-up to harvest coins for more lives. On top of the regular mushroom power-up, you also get to use the double cherry and the pick-axe power-up that lets you go through hard bricks. If you have saved data from Super Mario 3D World, you can navigate even more levels as Captain Toad from Super Mario 3D World. The overall game isn’t long, clocking in at about seven hours, and you can add on a few more if you want to complete every single challenge this game offers you.
Graphically, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is still amazing looking. It might use a lot of elements from Super Mario 3D World, and yeah, it might run on the same engine, but it’s one of the best looking games of 2014 with its bright colors and quirky character designs. The music is also very cutesy and silly, but it fits the overall mood of the game. The composer of the music is Mahito Yokota, who is famous for composing the music for games like Crimson Sea, Donkey Kong Jungle Beats, Super Mario Galaxy1 & 2, Super Mario 3D Land, and has worked on many Nintendo games that have come out during the past four years.
I really have only two complaints about the overall game. First off is the one everyone has mentioned, the camera. At first, I never found it to be a problem, but yeah, once you get to the later levels, the camera will not be helpful. The second complaint I have is that I wish there were more bosses. You really only fight two kinds of bosses, and while they are fun and do change a few things up with how the bosses attack or how the level is designed, I felt like they could have gotten at least one or two more kinds of bosses that were based around the power-ups you gain throughout the game.
Sure, it might be an easy and short game that is priced at $40, but it’s easily one of the best games of this year and that is saying something, since this has been the year of Nintendo in terms of hit games. If you have already played everything from the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One’s rather sad year to what Nintendo has offered, then you really should try this game. It’s quirky, well designed, and if you love puzzle games and loved Super Mario 3D World, then you will really like this game. With great puzzles and the level of polish you see in a lot of Nintendo-developed games, you should definitely pick up your pick-axe and hunt for this gem.
This game gets a 9 out of 10.