Thanks to an invitation from Nintendo of Canada, I was able to attend a Nintendo Post-E3 preview event recently and get my hands on several of the company’s upcoming first, second and third-party video games for the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS. Each day, I will be recapping my first impressions on several of the games I got the privilege to check out and post them here on GameSided. Enjoy!
As I have only owned a Wii U for a couple of months now, many Wii U games I’ve played were the result of borrowing from a friend or a local store. Super Mario 3D World was one of those games last year, and while I thoroughly enjoyed its traditional levels, I always found the Captain Toad minigame the most intriguing. It required a greater level of concentration, patience and problem-solving skills to fully complete than the regular 3D World play, and really provided a fresh approach to playing in a 3D space.
That’s why it surprised me to hear during E3 2014 that Nintendo will be making Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker as a standalone game, being released later this year. Firstly, announcing a game that will come out that very same year is a rarity at any E3 (even if they couldn’t touch Entwined levels of announcement-to-release speed). Second, it seems like a one trick pony on paper, one that might get a bit repetitive once relayed over a full game.
Either way, I let all those concerns melt away when I got to try a Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker level out at a recent Post-E3 event, focusing purely on the gameplay.
As is standard, Captain Toad cannot jump in this game. You must rely on the camera controls to traverse your way through a series of layered, almost isometric-3D-projected maps that contain hidden coins, gems and powerups. Instead of jumping or punching foes that come across your way, Captain Toad must avoid conflict and solve his problems using critical thinking as the player. The ultimate goal is to collect the star in each level in order to advance to the next stage.
The above level is what I got to try out, and it’s not clear what makes this level so much of a challenge based on one static image. When you try to cross the bridge, it collapses and you fall into the water below. From there, you have to take the stairs out of the pooled water, where a thwomp-type guard paces back and forth. You can only take 1 hit and survive in Captain Toad, where the second causes a reset. From there, I waited for the stone planks to turn counter-clockwise in order to form a bridge, but turning the camera around was when I saw that gem. As a stickler for collecting everything in games, I just had to double back and collect it before advancing to the level’s star.
Once I entered the stone “building,” it was clear that there would be some high-level chicanery going on. Inside the far edge wall were these stone wheels, which carried Captain Toad up and across several paths. However, just like in most RPG’s, taken the hidden or lesser-traveled path revealed the second of three gems. After getting lost, falling off the side of the stairs leading up to the second level and general frustration caused by me not being a patient gamer, I finally made it up to the top floor. From there looking straight forward, I beelined it to the star, which led to a “Thanks for playing!” message and the conclusion of the demo. In my haste to reach the exit, I forgot about the third and final gem that was right there!
All-in-all, I spent ~6 minutes messing around in the level, using all of Captain Toad’s abilities (including plunking plants from the top-left-most corner) and observing how the kids at the event handled the game. For the most part, it seemed like they got into the concept at first glance, but gave up and ran off to play Mario Party 10 at a kiosk nearby after a few minutes.
Which led me to think; who is this game for? Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a mini-maze adventure game that takes our protagonist to several maps with excellent level design that are conceptually smart. However, beyond the allusions of using the Wii U GamePad as a first-person shooting device on specific rail shooter levels, the game seems like a fairly niche title. My time with the game was decidedly short, but it wasn’t the best level example to convince me that it should be a full-priced game.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the concept of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker as a game and appreciate the fact that Nintendo is branching further out of the Mario genre by giving this Toad his day in the sun. I’m just not sure that it’s this title, likely (or hopefully) to be released this holiday season before Black Friday, that should be one of the few new titles to be pushed as the reasons to buy a Wii U and its games at a discount for the upcoming holiday season.
As a game, I couldn’t be more interested to see Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker in its full glory. If it can break out as a star of its own right is a story that we must wait to see if it will play out. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker will be released exclusively on the Wii U in Q4 2014.
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