Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker – Special Episode Review

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, a puzzle adventure starring the titular adventurous mushroom mascot, was a gem when it launched on the Wii U. The Nintendo Switch version was essentially identical, only with four new levels inspired by Super Mario Odyssey. The additions were paltry, but fans itching for more will be pleased to know that the Special Episode DLC comes with novel challenges.

Out of the 18 additional challenges, five take place on brand new stages. The gameplay hasn’t changed, and the goal is still to guide Captain Toad through a puzzling 3D diorama to reach the end-of-level collectible — in this case, golden crowns. These new areas are exceptionally creative and well designed. My favorite was a level entirely composed of delectable sweets and rising chocolate lava. Another world is set in the sky and is an unusually fast-paced level featuring flip panels that appear and disappear. The other stages, from my most to least favorite, include: a pirate ship with controllable water levels, a clever rotary maze that constantly spins like a hamster wheel, and a shrine that connects and disconnects on a moment’s notice. These complex, dynamic stages don’t miss a beat and are just as enjoyable as anything in the core game. They’re, by far, the reason to pick up the DLC.

The remaining 13 challenges recycle levels from the base game, but with a twist. Most of them involve one of two trials. The first, Crown Capture, tasks players to collect small crown shards in order before finally obtaining the larger golden crown. Every time you pick up a crown shard, you have a limited amount of time to pick up the next one. It’s a smart take on the diorama structure that requires fast reflexes, spatial reasoning, and a thorough understanding of the 3D puzzle boxes.

In the other trial type, Boo Spotting, players travel through an area infested by the iconic Mario ghosts. The only way to bust these ghosts is to shine Captain Toad’s headlamp on them until they vanish. When there are more Toads shining their lights, the Boos disappear faster. Thus, you’ll have to use one of the Double Cherries sprinkled throughout the stage to create a Toad clone. It’s hard to control both characters on the stage at once, though, considering these stages weren’t designed for the clone power-up. Attempting to aim both lights on a gaggle of Boos is also a frustrating ordeal. The alternative is playing with a second player (as Toadette), a feature that was recently added in a free update. On that note, co-op is a great fit for this game, but it felt like these new challenges were more tuned for multiplayer than for single-player. Both Crown Capture and Boo Spotting are much easier to complete with a friend.

Rounding out the DLC is a souped-up mine-cart level, an extra hard boss, and a fittingly difficult finale where you must frantically run through a grand labyrinth while being chased by mummies. Each challenge has three collectible gems as well as an additional secret mission, much like in the base game. The only feature missing is the minigame hunt for the hidden pixel Toad, but it isn’t a big loss since very few levels are new. Collecting everything will only take a couple of hours, though it’s admittedly not as compelling to complete the recycled levels. It’s worth noting that the Special Episode is only available for the Switch version and cannot be purchased on either the 3DS or Wii U editions.

Overall, the Special Episode is a short but sweet treat that will have Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker fans shouting “Time for adventure!” once more. The five new levels are excellent additions to the game’s collection of puzzle box dioramas, although they do nothing to change the formula. The remaining 13 challenges aren’t as worthwhile, and it wasn’t very fulfilling to trek back to remixed levels just to hunt Boos and collect crown shards. The inexpensive DLC is fairly priced, at least, even if you’re only interested in the novel areas. Just don’t go looking for a substantially game-changing experience, but rather a solid expansion of what made the original so great.

I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!