REVIEW : Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions (PS4)
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is an arcade football experience based on the popular long-running anime and manga series that served popularize the sport for a new generation of would-be athletic stars in Japan. The game from developer Tamsoft arrives in PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC, bringing melodramatic, cinematic, arcade soccer action much closer to Super Mario Strikers than any FIFA game, as the fame of anime/video game crossovers continues to grow.
Captain Tsubasa is 40 year old manga and anime sequence depicting the rise of Tsubasa Ozora, a remarkably talented football player. His associates and competitors quickly rise through the ranks of expert football, and his foes become his teammates when playing for the Japanese national team. Realism and underlying tales are not usual, and Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions relishes in the absurd power shots and tackles. Soccer gameplay consists of some primary pass types, a key to shoot, a sprint button, and a trick switch. “Spirit” substitutes as a player’s stamina and mana for unique moves: running and getting tackled will deplete Spirit, while players with great Spirit can perform special moves like absurd power shots, complete with their own cutscene. It’s far from innovative, but with the future of sports games seeming bleak, it might not need to be.
The soccer mechanics are a little hard, particularly for players demanding an experience like FIFA. The camera is more zoomed in, demanding the use of the minimap when switching players. Flowing moves are hard to create, with the focus more on one-on-one matches and timing tackles and tricks. The game’s two-story modes, one which follows Tsubasa through the events of the show and the other following a player character, are packed with cinematics scenes before, during, and after games. At its best, it feels like an interactive anime, with crew talks and narrative beats reflective of what’s gone on throughout the match. At its worst, however, the regular pauses are tiresome, especially when a match is lost and need be replayed, cutscenes and all.
Beyond the two campaigns, offline and online methods are available that work cooperatively and competitively. Most important is the Dream Club Creator, which enables users to build a Fantasy Football-esque team of the dozens of players included in the game, as well as design the club’s kit and crest – traits that aren’t available in current and forthcoming FIFA games.For over the op soccer action, few will beat Captain Tsubasa Rise of New Champions, which seizes the feel of the powerful anime’s bombastic style of soccer. Followers of the show have also been catered to with full rosters, voice acting, and the skill to create a team of your favourites. The core gameplay, however, is a little lacking, especially for those looking for a true pleasure of the world’s most famous sport with some early warning signs for this year’s FIFA not boding well. The endless cutscenes and cinematics might grow monotonous after many playthroughs as well.