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Captain Toad Treasure Tracker Preview

A treasure lies in wait

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker 2

Announced at E3, and coming as somewhat of a surprise, it seems odd that Nintendo decided to pull an entire game out of a mini-game included in Super Mario 3D World. While it’s actually a superb little game that serves as a great distraction between levels, it’s really not the sort of game you’d expect to find adorning store shelves or commanding a high price on the eShop. Yet, after playing through five highly-inventive levels of Captain Toad Treasure Tracker at a post E3 Nintendo event in London, it’s clear that there’s plenty of potential in this plucky adventurer.

Playing exactly the same way as before, you control Captain Toad through a set of tight independent levels, avoiding enemies and traps as you go in an effort to reach the end and snag the level star. Unlike Super Mario 3D World‘s entry, you’re actually looking for three hidden gems in each level, as well as collecting coins along the way and attaining a star for finishing the level.

It sounds far simpler than it is, but the real beauty of Captain Toad is that you have to use the camera to your advantage; spotting secret rooms, alternative paths and clever ways to manipulate enemies to slide on past them. Prodding the touchscreen also helps, as that’ll move some blocks into place and pin  enemies down so you can get Captain Toad by with ease.

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And, across the four levels I got to play, it all works very well. Exploring a temple at the start offered similar fun to 3D World, while a dragon’s lair level showed how elevation and circular level design can be put to effective use in a time-based ascension level. Going up against Boos and Goomba’s in a haunted house required deft puzzle-solving skills and steely nerves, and an on-rails Pokemon Snap-style mine cart level made innovative use of the Wii U Gamepad and TV screen to find and target boxes, coins and hidden gems.

But, despite all that, I’m puzzled by how Nintendo can scale this up to a full-priced outing. I’m sure it’ll be great when done, it certainly looks the part. However, it’s easy to imagine what I got to play becoming dull over time, requiring either additional challenges or even more innovative uses we haven’t been shown yet. Perhaps there’s even going to be a story tying it all together, but for now I’ll just have to sit back and say that Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker has really piqued my interest.

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