New Game+: Captain Toad and forgotten comfort food

December 12, 2014


It’s the end of another packed year of new game releases. Some might consider it a lackluster one (I know I do), but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile at the end of the day. When December rolls around, we don’t often find time to pay attention to any last-minute releases. Sure, some games manage to squeeze in right at the last minute, but they are rarely worth your attention. This year, however, there is one well worth your time, and one that might just fit alongside other, larger releases: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

If you think about it, it’s a perfect end-of-the-year game. Playing Captain Toad is an excellent example of gaming comfort food: take one of the coolest aspects of one of last year’s best games, Super Mario 3D World, and expand it into a full game with a good number of new twists. It’s not too difficult, but also not a breeze; it offers the perfect amount of challenge without overloading you. It’s short, but it never overstays its welcome, leaving you with just enough room for something meatier if you desire.


Since I’m still making my way through the vast world of Dragon Age: Inquisition, it’s nice to have something on the side to dabble with. Before Captain Toad, it was the new Theatrhythm game. And before that? Monument Valley, Luftrausers and even a few hours with Animal Crossing: New Leaf all filled that role perfectly. They’re games you can pick up, play for 20 to 30 minutes and have a satisfying time with before diving back into something larger, like Dragon Age. Captain Toad made me realize just how much I appreciate these experiences, giving me a little more gaming variety without requiring much from me in return.

We often overlook these games when talking about our favorites of the year. I loved my time Shadow of Mordor as much as many others did. It’s a game constantly on my mind, making it easy to forget the other title I played alongside it: Forza Horizon 2. I even wrote about it not too long ago. Yet, it’s a game I nearly forgot I spent dozens of hours playing simply because it was overshadowed (no pun intended) by a much “larger” release. Did I enjoy my time with Shadow of Mordor more? Definitely. But Forza Horizon 2 was there to give me something a little different to play without requiring much else in return.

Captain Toad might have fallen in that same category of near-forgotten releases, but instead it made me remember all of those experiences that wouldn’t necessarily triumph over titles like Shadow of Mordor and Dragon Age: Inquisition in any sort of direct competition. It’s an endearing game that feels just as creative as any other first-party Nintendo release, if not more so. It may not match the scale of Super Mario 3D World, but I can’t say I don’t enjoy it just as much, if not more so.


This is why I appreciate Captain Toad. It may not satisfy the same way some other games do, but it fits in a very specific category of games I don’t give nearly enough credit. It came out at the perfect time and reminded me of all of the forgotten gems of the past year. It may not have the budget of a game like Dragon Age: Inquisition or be full of innovative new ideas like Shadow of Mordor, but it makes up for it with plenty of heart. It sounds corny, but when you’re competing for one’s attention in a very crowded market, sometimes it’s what you need to stand toe-to-toe with the rest.

When you’re talking with friends about what games you consider the best, or at least your favorites, of the year, take a minute to remember your gaming comfort food. These are games that are always there for you when you need a break from the more extravagant releases. Take a moment to appreciate those games and all they represent, because you never know when they might just fall through the cracks.