Yesterday’s post was me ranting about being annoyed by Wii controls, so I thought I’d be a little more positive today. Fortunately, I also knocked the last couple of WiiU games off my backlog, and it’s easier to be positive about games when you’re not constantly thinking how much nicer they would be if you weren’t needing to keep a remote pointed at the TV at all times.
That isn’t to say that Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is entirely free of control gimmicks, mind you. It mandates the use of the WiiU gamepad for touch and blow controls in several levels, which is the sort of thing I would probably be much more upset by if I’d spent money on a WiiU pro controller.
In addition to the mandatory tablet control gimmicks, there is a level quite close to the end – “Magma Road Marathon” – which is just absurdly difficult in comparison to every other level, and the reason I’m mentioning this up front is that I have no other complaints about the game.
Captain Toad is brilliant and charming and just one of the best entertainment experiences I’ve had this year. Seriously, I want to find someone who hates this game simply because I am curious what a person with no joy in their heart could possibly look like.
Though I will understand if you hate “Magma Road Marathon.”
So, a short explanation. Captain Toad is a platform game that stars a character who can’t jump. You can fall off things, and climb ladders, and pick stuff up and throw it at enemies and other things, but the second you leave an edge you plummet to whatever solid surface is below you, or to your doom if no such surface exists. Your goal is to waddle around bite-sized levels, most of which can be spun all around with the camera to aid in finding secrets, making your way to the end of each level to collect a happy golden star.
Happy is a good word for this game. Almost every level is sunny and cheerful and your opponents seem almost apologetic in their attempts to cutely murder you. There’s no surprise there, I’m sure – Nintendo has built their empire on knowing just how to find the button that makes adult humans turn into blithering idiots at the sight of a puppy or kitten, and they jam on that button hard.
Short version: if you own a platform that can play Captain Toad, and if you want joy in your life, I strongly recommend connecting the two things and making a small financial transaction with your nearest vendor of digital entertainment.
Fast Racing Neo – pardon me, FAST Racing NEO – is a little less joyful, but it is a game designed for anyone who kind of misses the days when we got Wipeouts and F-Zeros and Extreme-Gs and similar futuristic hovercraft racers.
OK, I will admit that it is very unlikely that anyone misses Extreme-G. I’m not sure, even, whether it’s more properly spelled Xtreme-G and I don’t care enough to look it up. But I digress.
Unlike Wipeout, FAST Ra… I can’t do that any more. I have more self-respect and regard for the rules of capitalization. Let’s start over.
Unlike Wipeout, Fast Racing Neo is not a weapon-based racer, and you have limited ability to influence other vehicles on the track. Rather, your goal is just to beat 9 other hovercraft to the finish line on a variety of very cool science-fictiony tracks, generally by getting crushed by your opponents until you have memorized where every boost pad and hazard are so you can hit one and not the other, because WOW this features some vicious AI.
One of the issues with racing games is that, at their heart, they are games where the computer chooses to let you win. Sure, player skill is important, but an AI-controller racer programmed to drive perfectly will do just that. There has to be some degree of slop in their design, some code that says “actually, you should occasionally miss a boost pad or fail to make a turn”, and Fast Racing Neo does not have a lot of slop, even on the beginner difficulty. If you are tooling along in a comfortable second-or-third-place spot, with your eyes on the leader and ready to make your push for first, and accidentally hit one of the many obstacles on the track, you are almost certain to be in 10th place by the time you finish respawning, with a bitter road ahead if you want to even make it into the top half of the pack.
I got thoroughly trounced by the very first set of races, several times in fact, and it was enough that I wound up quitting out and glaring at the game icon on the WiiU dashboard, very tempted to just delete the thing and forget about it… and then I decided that I was not going to be beaten and launched it again.
At the end, when I’d finally beaten all of the races and unlocked the next difficulty level, I felt wonderfully accomplished and decided that it was a good place to stop. I’m a masochist, but only to a point.
Anyway, that brings the days of the WiiU to a close for me, and it can go to a comfortable storage box in the closet until I get the urge to play through Fatal Frame or TMS#FE again. Unless those get ported to Switch. Hopefully they will get ported to Switch. 🙂