A lot of anime fans are no doubt with Captain Tsubasa which started off as a hit manga series way back in 1981. Later, it got adapted to an anime series in 1983 and had over 120 episodes. The series revolves around football, with the plot focusing on main character Tsubasa’s relationship with his friends, rivals, training, competition, action, and outcome of each football match. Specifically, the manga was inspired by the 1978 FIFA World Cup.

Captain Tsubasa became one of the most memorable manga and anime worldwide due to its association with football. Multiple real life players have even been inspired to become professionals because of the series. And now, we finally have the first new console game in the franchise over 10 years after the release of the previous Captain Tsubasa title on the PS2 way back in 2006!

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is an arcade football game where everyone can enjoy trading super plays against rivals, complete with some stylized graphics that harken back to the classic anime series.

The mashup of football and a 1980s anime aesthetic is quite a good combination, but is it the newest game in the series a must-play? Here’s what we think!

 

Graphics

What I love about the lookof this game is that even in the main menu section, the whole aesthetic is reminiscent of memorable anime graphics way back 1980s. It actually fits well with modern graphics, and personally, it is refreshing to my eyes because such realistic graphics in others sports games can be a bit too much already.

What I also love in the graphics is that when your player does his “special” move, a typical slide of your character comes in showing his power when kicking the ball for a goal! The effects are a visual treat, especially when you see flashes of blue around the players at certain points. Sadly, not all players have “special” moves.

The actual graphics in gameplay though are just alright. Sure, you probably wont’ notice it much because you are playing in such a huge field and are constantly switching between players just to score a goal or steal the ball from your opponent, but the game environment just looks plain. And while I love that the drawing of each players are still very much based on the anime series of Captain Tsubasa, it seems that they didn’t try to “make it better” and they just stuck with the standard artwork done in the manga/anime series.

On the flip side, the fact that the character design is pretty much the same as the classic anime, fans of Captain Tsubasa should be delighted with this choice.

 

Presentation

As I mentioned above, the game does a good job in representing the 80s anime design and look of the game. Aside from aesthetic though, animations in the game are smooth and mixes well with the anime-style look.

One thing I also liked when it comes to presentation is the Japanese commentary, which is simply is the best! If you listen well while playing the game, it adds up to the excitement / frustration while playing the game. It’s like you are actually watching a real football game with the commentary that is installed in the game.

The cut scenes also do a marvelous job in getting you invested in the journey; think of these as rewards for progressing through the story. You can unlock multiple series of short videos which can gain some trophy for trophy hunters.

 

Gameplay

Captain Tsubasa is perfect for a casual football fan with a slight interest in anime hysterics. Take note, there is no referee in sight–there are only linespersons or assistant referees on hand to make the offside calls and signals for throw-ins. What’s unusual is that there are no fouls in the game; you can actually hit your opponent to the ground with no intention of going for the ball. Seriously you won’t get even a warning from a referee since there is no referee in sight.

The play of the game is basic as you use face buttons to easily pass to another player,  either as a short pass, long pass, or a shot at the goal. A spirit gauge determines how long your selected player can continue to dash or dribble. But once the gauge is emptied, the player will move regularly like other players on the field.

Here’s the thing, despite having a dash and dribble, it helps a lot if you take down your opponent in the game. You actually need a lot of luck for swiping the ball from your opponent and score a goal.

What makes It different from Fifa or Pro Eleven is that the easy shot and pass mechanics are incredibly simple compared to the real-life simulation of the aforementioned titles. Also, anime-inspired powers such as exaggerated blocks, saves, kicks, make the game far from a football sim. This does make it a more engaging game for casuals though.

There are also a lot of customization options with the balls, cleats, uniforms, etc–perfect for Captain Tsubasa fans and trophy hunters. There are even movie clips too! What’s also good about this game is that there are various modes. First there’s Episode: Tsubasa which is the story mode, and it’s a faithful retelling of the original series. Then there’s Episode: New Hero which is a singleplayer mode where you use your own avatar. Lastly, there are Division Matches where you can play against friends or random people.

While I personally had a lot of fun with the game and liked the selection of game modes, not everyone will like Captain Tsubasa. Fans of more realistic association football games will be sorely disappointed with the fairly simplistic gameplay. But for fans of the series or for casual players, the actual gameplay is quite fun and engaging.

 

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of Champions makes a decent interactive anime football game for fans of the classic anime/manga series. Some may consider this game a poor representation of football, but to me, it was lots of fun. While it doesn’t highly revolve on realistic football gameplay, the focus on the story of how Tsubasa was able to achieve playing football along with his friends and competing with his rivals was engaging.

Overall, fans of Captain Tsubasa will definitely have lots of fun. But for more serious football fans, this might not be the game for them.

Captain Tsubasa is available now on the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.

This game was reviewed via a game code provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia.

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