Captain Toad is fast becoming Nintendo’s answer to the Despicable Me Minions and Rayman’s Rabbids.
Captain Toad and his brigade have been a part of Nintendo’s universe since Super Mario Galaxy back on the Wii. Generally his role was similar to Toad’s in Super Mario 64: hang out, get in trouble, complain, and periodically throw stars at you. Pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
This intrepid captain then became a playable character in a series of equally pointless minigames in last year’s Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U. I say pointless but they were somewhat charming. Basically, these involved moving Captian Toad around the level, rotating the camera to see different perspectives and solve the puzzles.
Barely a year after this, the captain was made the star of his own game: Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker. A game that Japan got in November, America’s been playing it for about a week now but for which us in Australia will be waiting until January. From all accounts, this is an expanded version of the minigames we played last year.
For anyone who was hoping that this would be the last time we see the captain of the Toads, I’m afraid you’re going to have to think again. At this point it’s looking like Nintendo are going to look for ways to bring Captain Toad towards the front of their game library. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is tough to say.
My stance on Captain Toad’s upcoming ubiquity is that Nintendo is going to cram another terrible joke down our throats like they did with the Mii. I’ll concede that being able to play as yourself in Wii Sports is pretty cool and a great way to ingratiate the game with family members and non-gamer friends. Taking up character slots in games where roster space is at a premium, such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros, with Mii is just inane. Mario already plays the part of the middle-of-the-road all-rounder.
Something with such a homely start, like Captain Toad, has spiralled out of control and Nintendo won’t let us forget it. I worry that the captain is going to go the same way and, in two or three years time, we’ll be fighting as Captain Toad in the next instalment of Smash Bros or seeing a crossover into Hyrule Warriors.
Conversely, though, Captain Toad is probably Nintendo’s greatest weapon to bring young gamers into the fold in recent times. His trademark gameplay is simple with plenty of room for variety and there’s a real cutesy charm to the art direction. Captain Toad may also be Nintendo’s way to crack into the mobile game market as the diorama puzzle genre lends itself to a smart phone.
While I wait for Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker to hit Australian shores, I sit in anxious uncertainty about the quality of the game. If it’s good, this prophecy of impending prolificacy may not be the worst thing in the world. I can put up with it if the gameplay is of a sufficient quality. If, however, it’s a rehash of the same levels found in Super Mario 3D World, it’s not looking good for Captain Toad’s reappearance.