One of Nintendo’s less-hyped reveals at E3 this year was the announcement of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, which is set to release this holiday. Yes, the side levels from Super Mario 3D World, where you play as Captain Toad, is receiving its own title — and it looks pretty awesome! The mechanics are expanding, visually it is really nice, and the gameplay itself just looks like a blast. As a downloadable eShop title, it would be a must buy.
However, it appears that the game is instead being planned for a full retail release, which is an interesting decision on Nintendo’s part. One can’t help but wonder whether or not it is the right decision. As a mini-game in SM3DW, it was great; as an expanded downloadable game, it would probably be fantastic. But does something like this really have the chops to pull off being a successful, totally satisfying retail game? If anyone has the ability to make that happen, it is the Entertainment Analysis and Development Tokyo team, but it won’t be easy and there are a few things that Captain Toad will need to include if he wishes to make his first standalone video game a successful one.
Plenty Of Length
This should go without saying, but a full retail title needs to include a ton of content. There isn’t a whole lot to elaborate on here, but asking consumers to invest more money means it will need to offer the full experience — plenty of levels, collectibles, and maybe even some unlockables. This should be a game that people can play and enjoy for more than just a day or two.
Constant New Ideas
The mechanics have a simple premise. You may walk around and move the camera, but you cannot jump and so will need to run away if enemies come after you. There is also the option to throw beets/radishes at enemies and objects, Mario 2-style. But there is no shortage of variety from what we’ve seen in live demos and trailers. In one level, you may tap different platforms with the GamePad to access secret areas; you may hide from and eventually defeat a giant dragon. You might then make your way through a ghost mansion level with teleporting doors, followed by riding a mine cart down a mountain, shooting turnips in first-person to collect or destroy objects before navigating ruins just after.
The variety on display is very impressive but the question is whether or not Nintendo can keep up this level of creativity for the game’s duration. I am slightly dubious, to be honest, but if anyone has the smarts to pull it off, it is EAD Tokyo. The core concept has plenty of opportunities and, as the mine cart segment proves, there will be levels that will use a completely separate set of mechanics. Hopefully, the team doesn’t rest on their laurels: to stay interesting for the entire way through, it will need to create new ways to utilize regular mechanics constantly while shaking up the standard experience with new types of play, possibly by using the GamePad. Every single level should feel different and special. SM3DW excelled at this, with every area focusing on the primary use of a different mechanic while still managing to stay focused and cohesive. If EAD Tokyo can repeat the magic with Captain Toad, we may just end up with a winner on our hands.
Visually Impressive All The Way Through
This is all but guaranteed but it still warrants a mention: the game should be visually impressive all the way through. In a small downloadable experience, the visuals are allowed to be less than excellent, but the team can’t slack off on anything in a major game. Environments and settings should change constantly and the characters, objects, and backgrounds should all be highly detailed — not to mention adorable. This seems to be a given, as what we have seen so far has been on the same level as SM3DW graphically, which is certainly a compliment. The dragon boss especially looked great and they hopefully can keep up that level of detail and variety from beginning to end.
Can’t Be Full Price
Even if it succeeds in accomplishing all of the above, Captain Toad cannot be sixty dollars. It just can’t, even if it is worth it. With the amount of content, spectacle, and/or multiplayer now expected in retail games, a quirky puzzle game featuring Toad may not make it very far at such a price point. Forty, or maybe even fifty dollars is another story. Making the value noticeably better for an odd, slightly risky, game will help branding immensely — just look at Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. That is a game that plenty would have purchased at full price and certainly had enough content to be worth it; however, it was considerably more enticing when it became ten dollars cheaper, and therefore picked up more attention from those who otherwise might not have gone for it.
Treasure Tracker seems to be reusing an engine, a few assets, and — though this may change by release — some of the same music from Super Mario 3D World, and there is also the fact that it simply does not quite seem like a full project. All of these things considered, the game could probably afford to cut a few bucks from the price. In doing so, it will probably garner more of a positive reception and less skepticism — which will likely mean more sales. It also means our wallets might not hurt quite as badly! Win-win, right?
What do you think? Are you excited for Captain Toad‘s first solo outing? What would need to be done for this to be a successful retail experience? I am personally very optimistic about the game. It may not be Nintendo’s biggest game ever, but it looks like it could be an absolute blast. Either way, it will be interesting to see how it shapes up as we approach the holiday release.