Before Captain Toad ever made his debut in Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker director Shinya Hiratake dreamed of a game set inside smaller worlds. He had reasoned that if he removed the jumping mechanic from a platformer that he could shrink a game's levels by a significant degree. However, Hiratake figured that this kind of a game wouldn't fit into the Mario universe since most of those characters could jump. However, The Legend of Zelda's Link would be the perfect protagonist for a game like this.

Hiratake and a small team actually worked up a small tech demo of what a diorama-like game starring Link would look like and presented it to several of Nintendo's higher ups. "We must have done too good of a job with our demo," says Hiratake, "because during our presentation, Mr. Miyamoto asked us how we were planning on bringing these dioramas into production. He thought we were pitching him an actual physical product design."

The idea of a diorama-like game starring Link was shot down during that meeting, but Miyamoto did conceded that the idea had some potential, and the team was allowed to incorporate the idea into Super Mario 3D World as a minigame. Unfortunately, the team now had to find a new star. Hiratake remembered that in the original Super Mario Galaxy a Toad had wore a backback, and figured that if a Toad was weighted down by a backpack, he wouldn't be able to jump.

After the release of Super Mario 3D World, Miyamoto actually approached the team and encouraged them to take the concepts in the Toad Tracker minigame and expand them into a full blown title. "We like to think that Mr. Miyamoto finally realized the vision we had for a diorama those many years ago," says Hiratake.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker releases on the Wii U on December 5; read our latest preview here.