After years of playing second banana to Princess Peach and the Mario Brothers, the Toads have gone and nabbed themselves starring roles in Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker. The delightful action-puzzle game for the Wii U is more fun than a barrel of monkeys and as gentle as a hand rocking a baby's cradle.

As either Captain Toad or Toadette (whose rank is unknown, but we can only assume she's at least a Grand Marshall), you'll traverse a series of short, sweet 3D puzzle levels in search of diamonds and stars. Captain Toad and Toadette can't jump, or run very fast, but they're clever and use their vegetable-chucking, puzzle-solving skills to survive. Treasure Tracker’s levels are all a gorgeous, wonderfully laid-out little bits of mystery, filled with treasure to uncover, riddles to solve, and enemies to bop on the head with veggies. Since everything is presented in an isometric 3D view, it's easy to look ahead and search around to figure out what needs doing and where, making Treasure Tracker more about looking and thinking than zipping from point to point.

Nintendo

The puzzles are pretty straightforward early on, but later levels require just the right amount of lateral thinking for you to complete them (without ever becoming so devious as to be obtuse in the solutions). To beat a stage requires you to nab its star, which is generally a pretty easy task. What's more challenging, however, is getting the three diamonds, all of which are scattered throughout the level in clever little corners and require you to make full use of that wrinkly brain to get them. Plus, each level comes with a bonus objective like finding an extra collectible, not taking damage, or defeating all enemies. These objectives, while entirely optional, give an extra bit of challenge for completionists to hunt after.

The environments, gadgets, enemies, and level gimmicks all vary widely throughout Treasure Tracker's fifty plus stages, so you'll never fall into a rut of feeling like you're doing the same thing over and over again. This is a game where you'll want to take your time to savor the charming sights and sounds while uncovering each and every mystery, and yet beating each stage is so much fun you'll probably burn through them quickly because you just can't help yourself.

Nintendo

Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker is a feast for the eyes and ears, using a sharp, bright palette most modern games forget exists. Each level looks lush and vivacious, and the many goofy sounds of the Toads and baddies alike will likely keep a silly smile pasted on your face. For those of you who played through Super Mario 3D world, you may recognize a number of assets as being recycled, but you'll also be rewarded with a huge chunk of extra content, so there's a give and take here. Plus, Treasure Tracker's base price tag is twenty dollars cheaper than most games, so there's really not much to complain about.

Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker is a joyous experience in an age where many games go for the grim. This low-cost, high-value puzzler's packed full of sweet characters, delightful visuals, and its multi-objective level design lets nubile gamers feel accomplished at simply beating a stage while still leaving some nice challenge for the more hardcore among us. If you own a Wii U, you absolutely owe it to yourself to pick up Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker.

This review was based on a purchased copy of Captain Toad Treasure Tracker for the Wii U.

9.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating