One of the loveliest thoughts about games that I have read in ages came - and this was not surprising to me - from Tom Senior, the online editor of PC Gamer. "I feel like we should run Into the Breach scenarios in PC Gamer like newspaper Chess puzzles," he wrote. "ie. "Two mechs are webbed in a tide zone. Save both and protect the factory.""
In retrospect, 2014 has been a particularly disappointing year when it comes to properly finished game releases, with plenty of AAA releases hitting the market with show-stopping bugs. We've reached the point where original retail copies of new games have become almost useless without copious amounts of patching. Last year we praised Super Mario 3D World for bucking that trend, yet following this year's parade of unfinished software, we feel it's more important than ever to recognise the great games that get it right on day one. While Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker may not be a particularly ambitious game, Nintendo still deserves serious credit for continuing to release such finely tuned work. It's Nintendo doing what Nintendo does best.
Nintendo's Tokyo EAD has long been cherished for the abundance of ideas in its games, for the little novelties that bubble up in single levels of Galaxy and 3D World before being gleefully tossed aside as the developer tirelessly works its way through a bottomless toybox. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a little different, though. Here's a game with one big, very bold idea at its core: let's see what a Mario game would be like with the ability to jump completely excised.
Talk to people about the superlative Super Mario World 3D World and ask them what they love. It's often a long conversation, but Captain Toad's little puzzles always seem to come up. The mini-levels were designed as quick distractions - brief breaks from Mario and co.'s main platforming adventures - and yet amongst 3D World's inventiveness and capacity to surprise level after level, their simple concept still stood out.