I’ll be honest, I knew nothing of Captain Tsubasa until I saw a gameplay reveal of some sort of Captain Tsubasa – Rise of New Champions. Anime football? Ok…….over-the-top action on the pitch? Ok, sign me up!
What wouldn’t be to love about the chaos of anime combined with a football match? On the face of it, that’s a great idea, and a fantastic idea for a game. How does that actually work-out when it comes to playing it?
It’s a mixed-bag if we’re being honest….
This is where the meat of Captain Tsubasa sits, as well it should. Anime/Manga are story-driven entertainment first and foremost after all.
In true form for a Japanese release, it is incredibly text-heavy. It feels like playing an old JRPG. Now, this isn’t criticism, it’s perfectly suitable for the franchise after all! What is a touch jarring is the pace of the text, the manual skipping through, and the fact that the dialogue is pretty dense.
Captain Tsubasa looks great and I love the story of the players all wanting to do better, to play for international teams and defeat enemies. Honestly, as a passive (at best) football fan, this is the kind of drama I like to see around the sport!
Super-dramatic and over the top, exactly as you would expect. It’s a great introduction to the world of Captain Tsubasa and gives you a lovely taste of the universe.
The gameplay can be a little bit stop-start when you’re in a match, so it can deliver key points of exposition and deliver story beats as you see key points of what I assume are the story from the original Manga.
You’re in the flow of a match, and then it stops to give some dialogue on a shot, or on a tackle or something. It works for the style of game that it is, but I imagine Captain Tsubasa might be a really difficult experience for those coming in from Fifa.
I’ll come to multiplayer in a second, but let’s talk about the gameplay quickly. If Fifa is a football siumlator, Captain Tsubasa is an arcade game with some football thrown-in to dress it up.
A button layout akin to PES gives you your basic controls. But your players all have a meter that drains as they do actions. Tackling, evading tackles, shooting, passing, sprinting. The meter can die quickly and leave you in a bad spot because you’re unable to attack or defend effectively.
But meter aside. Captain Tsubasa is about fun, it’s about action and it’s about intense animal-flavoured shots on goal.
The anime trappings are on show here in all their glory. Slipping past an opponent and pressed the button at the right time? Cut to a close up of your player with some fancy footwork! Have you tackled at the perfect time? Cut to a close-up of someone getting steam-rolled or a slick slide tackle taking the ball from the opponent.
Shots are where the real anime shows. Hold and charge your shot button and get a Tiger shot, or a Hawk shot, or a whole host of other shots (there’s a set of twins that shoot as one!).
It’s frantic and fun.
The character controls are pretty rough, and feel like it could be Fifa ’98 in that respect. But the action and chaos detract from that enough to make it forgivable!
Buttons work effectively, and against the AI on your machine, this works nicely. Online is a little bit different though……
In all honesty, I bought this game to play online against my brothers. As long-time competitors on a lot games, and a decades-long Fifa rivalry. We had to have a go.
How does it hold up?
Well…..I assume Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions didn’t sell massively, or that it’s long past it’s initial release so the online play is mostly forgotten about. Because the online services leave a little bit to be desired.
It’s wonky in a fun way, with delays in button press matching, the ball going to random invisible players and just all that general shonky internet service style issues.
But, with that said. Because of the high chaos and drama in a match. Scoring is a joy because you have to work for it. You can’t just score with a well-timed and well-placed shot. Oh no, you need to get the keeper’s gauge down through attrition, the bigger the shot, the better.
That’s all well and good, but when you press and hold the shoot button, but it doesn’t register, or your opponent has somehow tackled you from behind, half way across the pitch….well. It can be rough!
Somehow, in spite of that, I have never left a match without a smile on my face. Take that for what you will.
Captain Tsubasa’s online play is poor at best, but the gameplay itself delivers interesting and fun arcade/anime football.
There’s literally no way I’ll finish the story mode if I’m being honest. I’ll put in some more matches online with my brothers and have a laugh. I can only assume that the online play will get worse, and eventually be pulled.
Captain Tsubasa is fun at heart and wears its heart on its sleeve. The story is great and a fantastic introduction to the series. If anything, I’ll be having fun reading-up and watching the anime now.
If you’re looking to buy it, get it cheap on CDKeys or something, because it probably isn’t worth more than £15 on a whim.
Fun, frantic and dialogue-rich. A nice take on football, and arguably more fresh than the past 10 releases of Fifa.