Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is the new title by Bandai Namco based on the popular Manga/Anime series Captain Tsubasa. While not a hugely known title over here in the UK it has been on the peripheries for quite some time and was the base game for Tecmo Soccer on the NES. Is this another competitor to stand up against PES and Fifa or is this FootballZ?
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions follows the tale of Tsubasa Oozora and his ragtag band of football friends as they work their way to the heights of football fame and fight many capable other teams along the way, learning about themselves and having a ruddy good time with it too.
Captain Tsubasa’s tale leans heavily on drama, be it in training, in the locker room, on the field, or even at home, there is always a character standing around ready to turn the tables on the tale for the sake of dramatics. Often a lot of the cutscenes will cut over to a character watching from the stands or the side of the pitch, ready to drop some bombs about the past or an upcoming team/player. Now I’ll be perfectly honest with you reader and say I didn’t care all too much for the story, football just isn’t my thing and even if you want to dress it up with Anime cliches, shock and awe, and just a smidge of fighting, chances are like this I’ll still zone out at some point.
The story from what I can tell does a serviceable job of translating Captain Tsubasa and his tale to a western audience who are far more accepting of anime now than in the 1980s when he first kicked off. There are two story modes for you to go through, one takes you through the tale of the anime/manga surrounding the main character Captain Tsubasa while the other follows the tale of your created character with more of a “What If” feel to it.
The main story takes you through several of Captain Tsubasa’s iconic football matches, introduces you to the cast and the gameplay over its matches, and basically acts as a boot camp for the other narrative where you create a character. The second narrative ups the game difficulty to match your skills at this point, it also is a little more involved, making you build up not only your character but relationships with other plays to see your way through the trophy at the end of the day.
The audio features a solely Japanese dub, this isn’t a problem for purists but what it does is it creates quite a confusing noise when you’re trying to focus on the football match and the Japanese commentary is in full swing. Now I don’t speak Japanese and it was quite distracting when the commentary would be explaining something and I’m having to divert my attention from where it should be to look at the subtitles causing me to lose the ball of my position on the pitch.
Graphically, Captain Tsubasa manages the Anime brought to Game visual style, it looks like watching the anime during its cutscenes and the gameplay looks fast and buttery smooth. Character models animate cleanly. In terms of performance, the game runs and looks amazing at high settings and as I’m only just rediscovering PC Gaming it’s brilliant games that usually would be stuck on a console are seeing releases on the platform and looking and feeling just SO GOOD. I would highly recommend investing a gamepad to play this one though.
Now the gameplay of Captain Tsubasa is an interesting beast, I’ll be the first to admit, I hate football, I’ve never seen the appeal, the only football games I’ve ever played are Megaman Soccer, Fifa Street & Inzauma Eleven so I’m hardly an expert on “The Beautiful Game”. Now from the get-go, Captain Tsubasa makes a point of explaining that this isn’t a simulation game, this is arcade spots and a good one at that.
First off Captain Tsubasa is a lot faster paced than the majority of football games, the rules are also insanely relaxed which works for me, I didn’t see Offside once and you can spend the entire match tackling everything with great power and nary a yellow card will be displayed.
The main idea behind the game lies within everyone’s stamina gauge, this allows you to run faster or tackle, there are 2 types of tackle, run & slide and obviously there are two ways of avoiding them creating a game of chance and reading your opponent. When you get near the goal it’s down to you to hold the shot button and take either a standard shot or one of the over the top awesome anime-style shots involving eagles and tigers. Each shot at the goal you take will either, score a goal (win!) or drain the Goalies stamina bar as he scrambles with his life to block the shots. Their stamina will only return when a goal is awarded or after half time so you get the idea of how you’re gonna get that ball in the net.
There is also the V-Zone, after a lot of successful passes, steals and dodges you’ll build up a meter which lets you trigger V-Zone. This raises everyones stamina to makes, makes them faster, tougher and more effective than ever. Ideal for trying to get the edge or get yourself back in the race when things get rather tense.
Now as I’ve frequently mentioned, I don’t gel with Footie at all but I can’t help but feel engaged and awarded when I play Captain Tsubasa, maybe it’s just the arcade spirit of it but while I’m in a match I cannot be having more fun and it has a very similar effect on me to what Fighting Games do, which to me makes this a winner in my book, even if I don’t quite “get” the different passes or technical terms that keep getting throw-in.
There are plenty of options to explore, the story modes, exhibition mode as standard, and of course, there is a gallery mode in which you can see all your unlocked, music, cutscenes, and artwork and then there is an online mode which was Casual and Ranked but no lobbies and no spectating which is a damn shame as I can imagine just how much fun this would be in a tournament scene.
Now while I can’t guarantee that this is the game that will convert you into liking football and I’m under no illusions that outside of the other games mentioned this is just an exception. What it does though is provide a fantastic and fast-paced anime arcade experience and for once an alternative that doesn’t involve a 3D arena brawler! How good is that!.
Overall for the right price, Captain Tsubasa Rise of New Champions will be one of the more fun experiences you can get in 2020. The story mode for me was a little too hands-off until the 2nd story and it mostly involved a bunch of long-winded cutscenes but the gameplay more than makes that wait a little more bearable.
A fantastic arcade experience which may be weighed down with it’s anime history if you aren’t interested in the source material