Title: Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions
Release Date: August 28, 2020
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: Bandai Namco
When you check out the types of games I typically play, a soccer game is probably not going to be something you’ll find. However, leave it to Bandai Namco to break down that barrier and release a more accessible soccer experience in Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions. However, just because it has an anime appeal doesn’t mean that fans of the sport won’t find something to enjoy.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions offers a few different modes for players to receive story content through, but it’s also an option to jump right into a match. There are two different story modes available, Episode: Tsubasa and Episode: New Hero. Both have a completely different narrative to tell, but they’re each equally as entertaining.
Episode: Tsubasa gives players the chance to play through scenes from the anime as Ozora Tsubasa returns to Japan from Brazil to compete in the World Youth’s Asian preliminaries. This mode is great at introducing each of the characters and various tactics players can use during the game.
The opening is pretty much a glorified tutorial through trial as you are prompted to pass and shoot a specific way, but in later matches, you’re free to play as you want. I thought the rollout of information was informative and intuitive, as I was never confused about how to play. To further teach players, they offer a new skill to learn before each match, but you can pass on it.
Episode: Tsubasa has some interesting features where if the conditions are meant during a match, an important scene from the anime will occur. I really enjoyed these scenes and loved how they flowed with the match, sometimes to my benefit, such as when Tsubasa mastered a special kick. However, there are also times where the opponent will flex their abilities and score a goal that you can’t block or perform an impressive pass.
The mode features lengthy story segments, too, as you learn more about each character and their relationship. I found the voiced audio to be exceptionally well done here as the intense emotions of the scenes reflected well in the character’s voices. One thing I didn’t end up liking is that you have to win these matches since the mode sticks so close to the anime. In the event that you do lose, you’re forced to restart the entire match.
Episode: New Hero expands on the story elements and honestly takes them to a whole new level. Here, players can choose a school and create a character. After the introductions, they’ll be able to experience an original story of that school and play with members of the team. These story segments are also pretty lengthy, but they expand on the personalities of some of the other teams.
The matches become more sim like as players will be able to control their character who’s actions will level them up. Any action the player takes gives them experience points in several areas so if you want to create a defensive beast, than you can definitely do that.
I really liked this mode as it also gives players a chance to hang out with the other characters. Throughout the story, the team’s friendship bonds will increase, which improves their teamwork. It’s a super satisfying and fun mode, and the light sim elements of it were enough to enhance the overall experience and immersion that you are actually part of this team.
Although the gameplay is more arcadey than realistic, there’s a lot of depth to what you can do during a match. Each character has stamina that drains when you execute a dodge or run fast, but it regains at a steady pace. Passing also has a few variations, which include passing through, quick passes, and long passes. Each time I passed the ball, it typically went to the player that I wanted it too and they are even highlighted on the mini-map.
Scoring has a few different systems too, but you’re going to want to use a character’s ultimate shot if you want to ensure you get the point. This doesn’t always work, though, as the goalies aren’t pushovers, but enough of them will tire them out to break through their defenses. You don’t have to focus on controlling your goalie too much, but it’s best not to let anyone score on you too often. In the event of a tie, there is a kickoff, which is more of a guessing game of where you’re going to kick and where you’re going to block.
Typically during a match, the controls felt responsive, and I was having fun playing either defense or offense. There were some moments where the game didn’t know who to auto switch to if an opponent dodged me, but that didn’t affect the flow of the match too much. However, there are weird AI animations that show the characters jerking in multiple directions as you run in any direction.
As for the graphics, I thought they looked similar to their anime versions, and the music is really good with tunes that reflect the high intense action that Captain Tsubasa is built around. Also, the animations during matches and story scenes were a welcomed inclusion to the game’s overall appeal.
Additional modes allow free and local-play of up to four players as well as an online mode with up to four players. To further customize your multiplayer experience, it’s also possible to purchase new gear at the store, which is mostly cosmetic for your characters. Also, one cool addition is a playback mode where you can watch scenes from the anime to know more about Tsusbasa’s past relationships with the characters.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is an absolute rush to the goal as its soccer systems don’t lean too heavily into the outrageous. Instead, it finds a perfect balance of zany and strategy through control depth and over-the-top systems. The highlight is the two very different, but equally as important story modes, with a few multiplayer options to cap off the fun. You may encounter some AI issues, and some objectives during the story mode may not sit well, but you won’t want to sit on the bench for this game.
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