The upcoming Wii U puzzler, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, initially resembled the Zelda series in design according to a GameSpot interview with producer Koichi Hayashida. The resemblance was too close for Shigeru Miyamoto’s comfort, who had the final say on the game’s design.
Brainstorming for the game’s design began during development of the smash hit Super Mario 3D World, and the concept of the Captain Toad mini-games have essentially been turned into a full title in Treasure Tracker. At first, the team wanted a highly mobile character who could jump around in “garden-in-a-box type 3D stages.” Hayashida continued, “What we realized was it felt like something you could get inside of a Zelda game.” This led the team back to the drawing board, in order to create a unique experience that would not, apparently, take any wind from the Wind Waker’s sails.
“it felt like something you could get inside of a Zelda game.”
Hayashida found a silver lining in the restrictions placed on the game, however: One can make levels of a much more elegant design when the playable character cannot jump, as jumping requires larger spaces. The team was free to think creatively inside a smaller box, in other words, and the results are something Wii U players will enjoy. Because of the levels’ compact size, players can rotate the game’s camera 360 degrees in order to inspect the space before deciding on their next move.
Toad’s moves are very limited, making it difficult to call this game a “platformer”. But working with limited mobility and resources presents a fun challenge to gamers, requiring that they, like the game’s design team, think creatively inside the box. As GameSpot’s Peter Brown said, “Toad can’t really do a whole lot, […]so that’s one of the most interesting things about this game—all the little things you can accomplish with very little skill available to you.”
One wonders, though, why this couldn’t have simply been another game in the Zelda franchise; we’ve already seen diversification in the use of the intellectual property, what with the release of Hyrule Warriors.