FIFA and PES are stiff competition for a realistic simulated soccer experience, but Bandai Namco seems to be entering the genre to provide a different experience. Developed by Tamsoft, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of the New Champions aims to bring an energetic and exaggerated version of the sport to consoles, and we don’t plan to sit on the bench for this new release.
During a preview event, I was able to go hands-on with Captain Tsubasa and was surprised by how well the cell-shaded graphics translated this style of anime in the game. Colors are vibrant and bright, fitting the mood of the series. The view is quite a bit closer to the field than other soccer titles, helping to add a feeling of intensity and quickly identifying each character.
Not having played a soccer game in quite some time, I was thankfully able to almost jump into action even with little to no tutorial. You have two options when passing the ball to a teammate, a short pass and a long pass. Even with these distinctions, passing seemed pretty forgiving and almost always traveled to my desired teammate with ease.
A map at the bottom of the screen indicates your team members, so you are less likely to pass it to the opposing team if you’re paying attention. The map also comes in handy when looking for openings or strategizing how to trip up your opponents. I found myself relying on the map almost as much as the main screen itself. Dribbling helps evade the opposing team and speed your ball down the field. While sliding next to an opponent in possession of the ball gives you a chance to intercept it.
Each team has characters possessing unique stats and individual moves. Special moves can vary from intense goal kicks to passing the soccer ball to fellow teammates at increased speed. Each specialized move is presented with dramatic in-game cinematic that segue seamlessly with the gameplay. It’s just enough to inform the player that something intense is happening without taking away from the action of gameplay.
The effectiveness of several of you moves, even some of the special ones, comes down to your status bar and stats. Status bars rest over a character’s head. This combination is another essential part of the success of your team. For example, a goalie with a lower bar has less of a chance to defend the goal effectively. Likelihood of intercepting or being intercepted from also relies heavily upon the stats and status bar.
While seemingly straightforward and easy to understand, Captain Tsubasa is by no means a pushover. The gameplay is fast and frantic, adding a few losses to my shelf. With the game still early in development, there seemed to be a few features missing as the game felt like it was holding something back. Luckily, this was the case, and the demo build we were playing had several features excluded.
During gameplay, I encountered a few issues where I lost control of which character I was controlling when the opposing team had the ball. It seems like the character that is closest to the ball is the one you control, and this can switch at any pass. However, sometimes the character you are controlling isn’t present on the screen and is only indicated on the map, which caused some confusion, but it was told to me that this would be changed. Thankfully, the core gameplay is there, but improvement can definitely be made.
I’m looking forward to Captain Tsubasa: Rise of the New Champions as it gives soccer fans who don’t want the total simulation package a chance to join in on the fun with over-the-top anime characters included.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of the New Champions is coming to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC, later in 2020.
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