The latest in a long line of ports of previously Wii U exclusive games is here. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is on the Switch, and as someone who trotted through its three chapters and bonus chapter, it's just as adorable as you remember it to be. The downside is that its primary new offerings—four stages based on Super Mario Odyssey—can't be touched until you finish its three chapters.
That's a steep ask if you played it already back on Wii U. If you haven't, then good news: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a charmingly light puzzle game that's great for passing time. On-the-go, either on Switch or Nintendo 3DS (though having only played the Switch version, I can only speak to the former's quality), it's a pleasant game in small doses, whether you're en route to work or on a boring plane ride with bad in-flight movies.
But in all likelihood, you already know of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker's strengths; of its clever puzzles and dioramas and charming visuals. (You can read more in our review of its Wii U version, if you're not familiar.) So let's get to its Switch port's specific perks: its portability and new content.
The new stages are fleeting, much like the base game. Overall, it's slim on new content in general. The Metro Kingdom is the most substantive of the four new stages, offering a small corner of New Donk City for Captain Toad to waddle around. The other three kingdoms selected alternate from mine cart stages and chase sequences, and while they're cute little romps in familiar kingdoms, it left me wishing for more. Looking back on the Wii U version of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, it mirrors the model of its four brief Super Mario 3D World-themed levels. The Super Mario Odyssey levels replace those, fittingly, coming at the start of the Bonus chapter that's unlocked after beating the game.
Overall, I was largely disappointed with the new levels, aside from the Metro Kingdom one. The other three rely on gimmicks and lack really any challenge at all. Contrarily, Metro Kingdom's cube of New Donk City rewards roaming around, and feels like a direct extension of the exploration encouraged in Super Mario Odyssey proper. It may be a short level, but it's a delightful one all the same.
Captain Toad's adventure on Switch and Nintendo 3DS also adds co-op support, where a second player can pop in to shoot turnips, like in the mine cart levels, at enemies on screen. In practice it's a little light, but I can picture it being a good co-op experience for parents or babysitters and younger kids who want to enjoy Captain Toad and Toadette's full journey, but might not necessarily be wholly equipped to take on the challenge.
The general nature of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker makes it a perfect fit for portable systems too. Weirdly, it reminded me of the niche 3DS series Pushmo—not in practice, of course—because of its easy drop-in, drop-out nature. In Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, each level is a little diorama with all sorts of secrets to uncover. Finishing a level and finding all its Super Gems too usually won't take you more than a few minutes unless you're loitering around. It's a quaint little game with lots of replayability in terms of its levels' challenges and collectibles, though powering through its entirety in a feverish weekend (as I did, bless embargoes) may be a little fatiguing with the amount of familiar bosses and level formula repeats—especially if you've played it before on Wii U.
And that's why it's really best fit for portable platforms, contrary to its origins on a home console. It's best experienced in small doses: with puzzles here and there solved, shelved, and saved for another day. If you missed out on Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker the first time it was around, then there's no better time to dive in. If you've played it before though, the new offerings of Super Mario Odyssey-themed levels won't be that enticing, unless you have a kid to bring into the fun for co-op. At the very least, Toad and Toadette remain as cute as ever, waddling for infinity with those heavy ass backpacks that prohibit them to jump. Sometimes, to be hyperbolic for a second, games really are better on the Switch. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker strolls onto both Nintendo 3DS and Switch on July 13.
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