Captain Toad returns to the Wii U in a follow up to what was probably the most refreshing aspect of Super Mario 3D World. I recently got an opportunity for some hands-on at the EB Games Expo, and I walked away feeling exactly the same about Captain Toad as I did before I picked up the controller: it’s shaping up to be a sleeper hit.
The demo I played featured four levels with distinct gameplay variations designed to give players a taste of what to expect when the full game releases. These levels included variations such as gyroscope aiming and turnip throwing (thankfully for my lazy self the right stick also aims), using the GamePad to alter levels and open new paths, to even a boss battle.
Like in 3D World, Captain Toad treks through each isometric level in search of a Super Star (with three harder to reach treasures in each levels for an added challenge). Captain Toad retains the same abilities he had in 3D World, he can dash, but he can’t jump, so the challenge lays in guiding Captain Toad to the Super Star in each level by navigating such traps as revolving doors, sliding platforms and enemies. Altering the camera angle completely changes the look of a level, and looking at each level in just the right spot reveals paths you couldn’t see from the original angle.
The puzzles, while easy in the demo, showcased greatly what the developer has gone for with Captain Toad. Entering a door in the haunted house has Toad appear again from another door on the house. Aspects of the haunted house can be moved with a touch of the GamePad, and alters where Toad will appear. Getting the right combination on the haunted house opens the way to the roof and eventual Star.
The boss battle was a little underwhelming, though it did fit in with the feel of Captain Toad. Resembling a giant Blaarg from Super Mario World (on the Super Nintendo), Toad must hide behind walls and rocks to avoid the toxic gas that the boss fires at him, climbing up high as to get to the Star without being blasted. There was no actual boss fighting, which would not really suit Toad’s character. Rather it was still the same kind of Captain Toad stage, where Toad needs to get to the end of the level and find the Star, it’s now just with an additional danger. The boss does get its comeuppance at the end, though Toad really has nothing to do with its downfall. This is Nintendo at its most family-friendly, and it’s charming stuff.
Captain Toad retains the look and feel of Super Mario 3D World, down to the same fonts, menus, and just about any other thing you can think of minus Mario and crew. Levels are now selected through a picture book, though how many levels there are is hush-hush on the Nintendo front, I’m just hoping that it’s going to be something substantial for the retail release.
– Brad L.