The release of Super Mario 3D World saw our first look at this concept before it blossomed into the original Wii U release. A puzzle game starring Captain Toad without any of Nintendo’s iconic lead characters doesn’t sound like an easy sell. Apparently it performed well enough to warrant a current gen version, so here we are with the Switch release and what can be said that hasn’t been said already? This is a linear puzzle adventure with Nintendo’s signature charm on full display. Series creator Shinya Hiratake’s original tech demo featuring Link (Also a non jumping character, well, until recently) was enough to capture Shigeru Miyamoto’s attention and therefore allow Hiratake to select Captain Toad as the logically appropriate little treasure hunter (his backpack won’t allow him to jump) and make this one of Nintendo’s more successful experiments.
From the moment you boot up the game, you notice that the logo art is blocked by a giant story book that houses the level select menu. I realize I’m nitpicking, especially when the game is filled with that classic Nintendo aesthetic. From the bubbly textured surfaces that echo Captain Toad’s tiny footsteps, to the fantastically fun and appropriate use of the orchestral score created at Nintendo’s internal recording studios. It’s just a joy to the senses.
The gameplay mainly consists of the player taking control of Captain Toad whom you’ll have to guide across beautifully coloured worlds filled with bridges, pitfalls, and all sorts of obstacles in order to collect the three power stars hidden in every level which can be harder than it seems. Fans of the Mario series are treated to some fun references to past games found within the music, and most notably, the ability to dig up turnips a la Super Mario Bros. 2.
The player also has full control of the camera which must be manipulated in order to find all of the hidden stars and bonus objectives that are strategically hidden from plain view.
Owners of the Wii U version will find all of the original content with a few extra bonus stages based on a few Super Mario Odyssey worlds. The only real complaint this reviewer had was the unusual sudden bursts of lag experienced consistently throughout the game whether the system was docked or not. I could recall a few times where I was trying to navigate a space while simultaneously moving the camera only to the have the game really get hit in the frames. It not only pulled me out of the game, but felt a little surprising since the house that built Mario is renowned for their quality control.
Playing undocked felt way more natural by virtue of the touch screen being required to manipulate parts of a level. Choosing to play on a television forces the player to have to aim a cursor at the screen to accomplish what a simple tap can achieve making the handheld mode the superior way to play.
The other big addition to the Switch version is Co-op mode. Co-op mode allows a second player to take control of a cursor which can interact with the environment and also enemies in order to assist in completing puzzles easier. While I had personally hoped you could play as Toadette in order to solve more complex puzzles together, there is a bit of fun to be had as the second player. Interacting with various Mushroom Kingdom enemies have different effects such as interrupting an enemy’s movement pattern in order to help your buddy get past a tight walkway. Considering that it’s a free addition that potentially allows a situation in which you can involve another player, it just adds to the overall purchase value.
All in all, it’s a great package for those who missed this gem on the Wii U the first time around; however, you’d have to be a true fan to grab this a second time around. The bonus levels and Co-op mode are sufficient additions to this version of the game. For the price, this game may appeal stronger to first time players.
Forged in the 8 bit era, Duarte can be found quietly contemplating the future of the games industry. Wondering what the exhilaration of digital achievement will look like on the next horizon.