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One of Nintendo Switch’s best puzzle games is now (mostly) free for 7 days


Usually, NSO trials like this feel like teasers for full-price purchases. This one is different.
Enlarge / Usually, NSO trials like this feel like teasers for full-price purchases. This one is different.


Nintendo mixes cool, weird, and ho-hum perks into its $20/year Switch Online subscription service, including one we don’t generally talk about: limited-time game trials. Other modern gaming services include this sort of thing, particularly “Days With Gold” on Xbox Live, and the idea is that subscribers can temporarily test unlocked retail versions of games for no additional cost.

Generally, these deals range from intriguing to annoying, though they’re at their worst when they feel like glorified advertisements for online games: Try a game for as little as 72 hours, get hooked, then buy it when the promotional timer runs out and locks the game. This week, however, a new deal exclusively for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers gets my wholehearted recommendation.

Starting right now—as of 1 pm EST today, January 13—the 2019 Switch puzzle game Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is fully unlocked for anyone already paying for the $20/year NSO service. Its free trial lasts for a little over seven days, expiring at 2:59 am EST on Friday, January 21.

One week is all you need

As far as I’m concerned, that’s basically Nintendo giving the game away outright. If you haven’t played Treasure Tracker on Switch or its original 2014 version on Wii U, I can assure you that its base gameplay is a cinch to knock out in a week of casual play.

Treasure Tracker is an expansion of a bonus-level concept found in 2013’s Super Mario 3D World, dubbed “Captain Toad’s Adventures.” These puzzle boxes must be traversed by a version of Toad or Toadette, who is incapable of jumping. That means players must creatively scale up and down each level’s tricky geometry, all while carefully rotating the camera to correct any perspective shifts.

As a bonus beyond the Wii U version, Treasure Tracker on Switch adds a handy co-op mode, where a second player can hold a standard Joy-Con, then aim and wave it around like a Wii remote to assist the primary Toad or Toadette player. This set-up ranks with Nintendo’s best “aimless player can join in” toggles in past Wii and Switch games. So if you’re looking for a fun Nintendo Switch co-op experiment with a littler gamer, bump my recommendation up a few more points.

Should this NSO-related trial convince you that Treasure Tracker is worth buying outright, you have until January 16 to buy it from Nintendo’s eShop and other retailers at a 30 percent discount, reduced to $27.99. Is the game worth that much, seven years after its original Wii U launch? I’m not so sure. But as a cute, clever puzzle option during the doldrums of January weather, it’s much easier to recommend for a (nearly) free seven-day marathon session. And it’s certainly higher on my list than the still-limping N64 emulation situation on the $50/year NSO tier.

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