Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a puzzle game for Nintendo Switch and 3DS. It was first released on the Wii U in 2014, but has been given a new lease of life thanks to the success of Nintendo Switch and the ever-growing popularity of Nintendo 3DS. From the minigames that were featured on Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is hailed for its crisp, clean visual style and clever puzzles. With the Nintendo Switch offering multiple control options and better specs compared to the Wii U and 3DS, you’d think this would be the best place to play – you couldn’t be more wrong.
While it brings crisper and more colorful visuals, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker on Nintendo Switch suffers in other departments. Throughout your adventure, you’ll wander through a variety of mazes and frequently need to rotate the camera to find a way forward or collect new items. It’s a sort of digital Rubik’s Cube that requires precision controls. Especially in later levels which have many enemies and obstacles and Toad can’t jump to avoid them.
Unlike the Wii U, which had you use a stylus in conjunction with its tablet gamepad, you’re resigned to using gyroscope-based motion controls for gameplay on the Nintendo Switch in docked mode. The result: controlling Captain Toad isn’t as responsive as it could be on the Nintendo Switch. Exploring its many stages feels floating whether you’re using the Joy-Con or the Nintendo Switch Pro controller.
Playing it in handheld mode is a bit better. You can use the analog sticks to rotate the screen, although you can only use the Switch’s touchscreen to interact with certain parts of the environment instead of allowing you to play the entire game with touch controls. It’s a baffling omission that doesn’t make it all that intuitive.
This inconsistency hinges the game on the Nintendo Switch. It’s at its best in widescreen docked mode with its beautiful locale and colorful characters, but suffers from imprecise controls. In handheld mode, every detail is reduced so it doesn’t look as good in comparison, but it controls slightly better despite the lack of touchscreen options. All of this makes the Nintendo Switch version of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker a compromise.
As for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker on Nintendo 3DS? It’s a pleasant surprise. The cartoon-like art style looks vibrant on its smaller screen while every area and secret is intact with no omissions. Additionally, the 3DS’ 3D effect gives a sense of depth to its puzzles and even in the busiest segments of the game, it doesn’t slow down at all. It’s obviously not going to compete with the Switch in the graphics department, but holds its own. Considering the Nintendo 3DS was released in 2011 and predates the Wii U and Switch, it’s surprising the game works at all and it’s downright miraculous that it looks as good as it does.
Although its main feature on the Nintendo 3DS is its controls, you can also use a stylus with the console’s touch screen to move and manipulate the environment as you please. It just makes the procedure much more precise and precise compared to using an analog stick or motion controls which don’t work as well for this type of game. Whether it’s dodging enemies, From dodging obstacles to finding hard-to-reach treasure, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker feels right at home on Nintendo 3DS.
This brings us to the Wii U version of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Although it was originally created for the struggling console and is packed with every feature possible – like forcing you to blow into the Wii U tablet’s mic to clear blocks in your path as well as its gyroscope to aim at enemies – the game looks like a poor cousin of the Switch edition. Suffice to say that it does not hold up compared to the Nintendo 3DS or Switch versions of the game.
All of this goes to show that not all games benefit from being played on more powerful systems or those with the most control options. In both departments, the Nintendo Switch crushes the 3DS but it fails to deliver an experience that a title like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker deserves. While Nintendo remains tight-lipped on a follow-up to the Nintendo 3DS and the resounding success of the Switch, the company is unlikely to release a dedicated handheld. But if so, it would be interesting to see if it would feature some of the features that have made the 3DS last as long as it has, like its dual-screen design and stylus controls that make Captain Toad experiences his own.
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