Recently released in Japan, Captain Toad is a cute little Super Mario 3D World spin-off about collecting coins, gems, and stars while on your way to defeat a giant bird. ...Either that or it's a tale of greed, robbery, and mass murder on a grand scale.
[Note: This article is a tongue-in-cheek look at the game and not a serious examination]
Like many Mario-related games, Captain Toad doesn't exactly have a deep and sprawling plot. Rather it begins (somewhat predictably) with a kidnapping. The first “book” of the game begins as Captain Toad and Toadette are treasure hunting and happen upon a star. But, just as they are about to claim it, Wingo, a giant black bird, comes out of the sky and grabs it along with Toadette. From there, Toad must go through 18 levels to face off against Wingo and save Toadette. So, it's a pretty simple heroic story, right? Wrong.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is actually the dark tale of a pair of toads driven by nothing but their own insatiable greed. When Wingo comes out of the sky and takes the star, it's a dick move, no doubt. But when it comes down to it, the two toads hadn't even touched the star yet so Wingo really is the first to claim it. Moreover, it's just as Wingo tries to fly away that Toadette latches on to the star and refuses to let go. In other words, Wingo doesn't actually kidnap Toadette—she could have let go at any time but doesn't. It's because of her severe case of kleptomania (or perhaps just compulsive greed) that she refuses to let the bird take the star even as it lifts her high into the air. But lest we heap all the condemnation on Toadette, we must first remember that Captain Toad is, if anything, worse.
One might think that Captain Toad’s objective would be quite obvious: “My friend has been carried off by a giant bird so I have to rescue her!” But rarely does he seem to work toward that goal. After all, each level follows toad as he collects coins, golden mushrooms, and crystals—his seemingly unquenchable desire for loot ending only when he collects a star. Of course, collecting coins, crystals, golden mushrooms, and stars has absolutely nothing to do with rescuing Toadette. So this would mean the actual gameplay of the game is the times where Captain Toad is overcome by his appetite for treasure and forsakes his friend in the face of his overpowering addiction.
His endless gathering simply shows that Captain Toad is a selfish and greedy person—that he cares more for treasure than the life of his best friend. But does all that selfish behavior make him truly evil? No! What makes him evil are the countless murders.
Often the stars and other treasures have already been found by goombas or other members of the Koopa Kingdom. But Captain Toad won't let a little thing like the star being someone else's property stop him—rather, he'll kill anyone that even marginally obstructs his way with a dose of vegetable violence or simple blunt force trauma to the head.
A town of shy guys playing in a garden maze next to their village? Stomped. A family of goombas relaxing in the pool? Pickaxe to their foreheads. Ghosts bothering no one as they haunt an abandoned house? Erased from existence by Toad's ghost-killing headlamp.
And then there's the dragon whose home Captain Toad invades before collapsing part of it and causing major head trauma to said dragon. (Hell, in later sections of the game, both Toad and Toadette ride the poor, concussed dragon, forcing it to kill dozens of Koopa Kingdom citizens in its confusion for no reason nor reward—not even a star.)
Moreover, what do we know about the supposed kidnapper Wingo? Nothing, really. He's a giant black bird in a turban. Perhaps like crows, he just likes shiny things. But even when they meet face to face, it's not like Captain Toad talks to Wingo. Captain Toad would never stoop to diplomacy when he can get his way through murder. And really, by the time Captain Toad reaches Wingo, he has 17 stars and tons of other treasure. What would be the harm in letting the poor bird have a single star?
But as should be clear by this point, Captain Toad's greed would never allow such a thing. So with the bird brutally beaten and Toadette rescued—though it's obvious she cares only for the star and nothing for her friend's recent peril—the two claim Wingo's star and move on to new adventures (read: murder-kill rampages).
So the next time you see a cute fluffy piece of propaganda, remember to read between the lines and see the dark truth. Though honestly, Captain Toad is nothing compared to those plumber brothers or the tyrannical despot who controls the mushroom kingdom with an iron fist. Those monsters... well, they're on a whole other level.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was released in Japan for the Nintendo Wii U on November 13, 2014. It will be released in North America on December 3, 2014, and in Europe on January 2, 2015.
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