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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a Brain-Tickling Gem

Captain Toad

Nintendo

For those who’ve fulfilled their trigger-happy gaming quota for 2014, might I point you in the direction of Princess Peach’s mushroom-headed assistant? Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for Nintendo Wii U is beyond a shadow of a doubt the cutest game of the year, but don’t let such unrelenting adorability fool you. The visuals may be easy on the eyes, but it’s your brain that will feel the pain.

One of the most original and endearing aspects of last year’s stellar Super Mario 3D World was a small array of mini levels navigated by Captain Toad. Unlike Mario, this little guy (or girl, or whatever they’re feelin’) couldn’t jump, stomp or attack, but his missions did allow for some nifty sightseeing, thanks to the Wii U’s GamePad being used as a fully movable camera. This novelty remains intact in Toad’s first-ever standalone adventure that serves as a spin-off, but also evolves this unique tale in several remarkable ways.

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Some of 3D World’s most noteworthy features have been repurposed here with very amusing results. For instance, those character-doubling, tripling, and even quadrupling cherries feel right at home in this journey. That goes, um, quintuple for 3D World’s rhythm-based platforms, which are just as exciting as and maddening as ever. And this time around, Toad’s no longer a complete pacifist—he can pluck and toss radishes a la Super Mario Bros. 2 and even wield a Hammer Bros-style hammer. Not even a giant, fire-breating lava dino is immune to Toad’s devastating fury.

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While 3D World included just a handful of Toad levels, Treasure Tracker boasts over 70 vastly creative puzzles (attractively showcased within a fairytale-esque storybook) that start off as innocuous brain-ticklers, but gradually crank up the difficulty. There are also several well-hidden collectables you’ll want to find in order to unlock everything. For instance, getting a gold star is the essential way to beat a level, but there are also a trio of well-hidden gems that will have you replaying some stages over and over in order to unlock addition treats, like more secret puzzles and other goodies that can be unlocked after finishing the main quest. True to any Mario tie-in, coins are also something you’ll want to look out for, as well as a special bonus objective tailored for each stage.

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Finally, there’s even more shiny content in store for those who played 3D World. Also, Amiibo play is reportedly on the way. Does Nintendo love ya, or does Nintendo love ya?

INNERSPACE CLIPS