Whether or not there’s a huge gap in the market for the anime sports genre is beyond my comprehension. From the over-the-top action shots to the minuscule elements to barely pass as a soccer sim, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is something that came right out of left field and one that honestly made me want something more of it.
But from the get-go, it isn’t exactly the most visually appealing… something that I would’ve already expected coming from the dated manga that it is. As such, this 1981 era of characters often feels like they came out of my granddad’s basement and one that I can only fear to share with the world. However, visual tastes aside, the game is easily one of the most exhilarating if not downright frustrating games to play in recent memory for its fast-paced action and flashy action scenes.
On a storytelling standpoint, Captain Tsubasa tells the tale of you guessed it… Captain Tsubasa Ozora of the Nankatsu Middle School Soccer Team where they’re just about gearing up for their third consecutive title defense against teams like Toho or Furano. This chapter of the game is considered as the opening sequence to the world of Captain Tsubasa where you’ll learn most of the intricacies and basic controls to get you started.
However, it’s also one of the most frustrating parts of the game to play as the story has its own difficulty setting that cannot be changed even if you’re struggling. Each match of the story has its frustrating moments often appearing in cutscenes that could put you down one to nil in mere moments once it’s triggered making it an even more daunting task to score more points than the opposition. While it provides the dramatic effect to fit in with its story, for a gameplay standpoint, it feels cheap and unfair especially when you’re just learning the controls and its mechanics.
Although the game also incorporates a separate episode where most of the content is at. This new mode lets you create your own unique character to grow and develop as you move on from one match to the next. But despite being considered as “a more challenging mode” than its first episode, I find myself enjoying it more as I build my own character and learn skills from my peers while being free from the outrageous cutscenes that can unfairly score off you. My only gripe with this new mode is that while its early chapters are often expressed in quick and brief dialogues, halfway through, it starts throwing huge chunks of text that just made me want to skip through it.
Captain Tsubasa’s gameplay is not like your average soccer simulation where you have to worry about receiving fouls or coloured cards. And unlike most soccer sims, it’s a game that is driven with the risk and reward mechanics of outmaneuvering your rivals that ultimately charges up your shots quicker for a devastating cutscene finisher that even fits a battle manga panel. The game is littered with these, whether you’re shooting a drive shot from center field or shoulder tackling an opponent to the ground, the kind of moves you’ll see is both frustrating and exhilarating to pull off and one that I’m very much fond of.
However, scoring a goal is far easier said than done. Despite the finishers that looked like it can even beat the likes of Goku, Luffy or Naruto, the way the game flows is by meticulously draining a goalkeeper’s spirit gauge by constantly receiving charged shots until they can defend it no more. It’s a battle of attrition that becomes a pretty normal mechanic much later but frustrating with the constant back and forth of tackles and slides.
But let’s take a step back to its character building. This is easily the main hook for me in the game as it incorporates the RPG elements that I’m very much a huge sucker for and the addictive gameplay that I’ve began to love. For starters, you’ll be choosing the visual appearance and playstyle of your character whether you want a gigantic forward or a skinny little defender. You’ll also be choosing one of three schools to join and each one having their advantages and unique stories.
During matches, your character will develop his stats depending on how well you play and you learn skills by increasing friendship levels from the player cards you earn throughout the game or its in-game shop. These range from learning moves like powerful tackles to devastating shooting moves or skills that can be equipped that increases your basic stats or gets activated when certain conditions are met. In a nutshell, the game is more of an RPG than it is a sports-centric game… and I’m quite okay with that.
The game also offers an online mode of up to four players which is easily one of the most fun I had with friends. While most sessions are fine and lag free though, some aren’t exactly the best of moments where tackles would fail to connect or passes that doesn’t follow through. And with the lack of advance settings for online connectivity with other players, you might as well be playing a game of guess the connection everytime you enter a room or queue up for matchmaking.
A game is never complete without its multitude of customization options though and it’s something that Captain Tsubasa has in spades. There are multiple hairstyles to choose from whether you’re going for the goofy to the most grandiose of pompadours. The different styles of unlockable uniforms and emblem features offer some great variation that really blends well with the idea of building your own unique dream team.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is a downright fun game that can be enjoyed alone or with friends. While it isn’t exactly a game that fits in the soccer sim space, the idea that there’s an anime sports game with the RPG elements to deepen its need I say “combat” is very much welcomed. For fans of the series, this is something that might very well be the best integration of anime and sports in a game. While it might not be the most stable and flawless in execution, if you can get passed its mistakes, you can find a lot of fun with the title.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is available PlayStation 4, Switch and PC
To purchase head over to this site here and choose the format you want.
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Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is an arcade football game bringing a refreshing look to the football genre with the exhilarating action and over the top shots.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 39.99
Product In Stock: Not Available