Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is everything anime and manga fans would have wanted from a video game adaptation and a bit more. It's a charismatic and absurd take on the popular franchise, with a couple of minor hiccups.
There's a high possibility that you have never heard of Captain Tsubasa and we don't blame you. It's not the most popular manga/anime out there since it's not so easy to compete with the iconic franchises like Dragon Ball, One-Punch Man or Naruto.
But the thing is, Captain Tsubasa is not even aiming to take the spotlight from Goku or Saitama. Instead, it has its loyal community which gets a thrill out of its spectacular football.
Long story, short, Captain Tsubasa is about a kid with immeasurable talent who literally got saved by a football, which cushioned the impact of a rushing bus. Yeah, that's as anime story as it gets.
Anyway, ten years since the last major video game instalment in the series, a new Captain Tsubasa game has arrived, developed by Tamsoft and published by Bandai Namco. Is it any good? Let's find out.
If you're a fan, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions will hit you hard. The game features story aspects directly from the manga and anime, allowing you to experience some of the most iconic moments on your own. The first story mode follows Tsubasa and his teammates as they take on teams in Japan's football league.
Each of these teams has a unique strength and it's up to Tsubasa and his gang to find a way around a tough defence or attacking machinery. The second story mode allows you to write your own story with a custom made character. It's a bit harder than Episode: Tsubasa but it's an interesting twist with new events and possibilities.
You'll meet many faces from the franchise in the story mode and while I'm sure the fans will love every aspect of what the game has to offer in terms of narrative, I wasn't overly interested Tsubasa's adventure...
...but the gameplay is why I must recommend this game, even if you're not the biggest fan of the manga or football games. It is fast-paced, action-packed with absurd, logic-defying tackles, strikes and saves - you'll fall in love with it the moment you start your first match.
Players on both teams have special meters that is depleted as you perform unique moves or sprint. Standard football practices like passing into space, long balls or waiting for your teammates to run behind the defence are non-existent in Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions. Instead, the gameplay emphasises dribbling, special moves, and powerful shots.
One thing that really bugged me though is the scoring system. It can be really frustrating and it takes away the fun since you need to deplete the goalkeeper's special meter before you can score a goal. This means you'll have to shot at least three or four times in order to tire down the keeper, and put him and the ball into the net, regardless of your shot power/accuracy and positioning.
When it comes to game modes, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions features the already mentioned story mode, which offers two episodes - Tsubasa and New Hero. There's also an online mode, where you can compete with other players using your custom team. The mode is divided by divisions similar to how FIFA Ultimate Team works.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
The graphics are quite nice as you would expect from an anime game but there are a couple of issues that are worth mentioning. At the time of writing, the game properly works only on 1920X1080 monitors. For some strange reason, text in the menus is completely misaligned when in full-screen mode and on resolutions above 1920X1080.
Switching to windowed mode solves the problem but the solution is far from perfect since it leaves you with those ugly borders on the sides. We did not test the game on consoles but it seems that this issue is exclusive to PC.
The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, jam-packed with fast anime tracks that perfectly blend with the art style. Voice acting is also solid so it's safe to say that the game doesn't lack in terms of sound and music.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is a great title for everyone who fell in love with the original manga and anime series but even if you never heard of the franchise, we recommend you give it a go. It is a fun experience that offers a unique take on the world's most popular sport.
Yes, there are some minor issues here and there, but nothing that devalues the full package, which is, overall, a wonderful anime game.
A massive thank you to Bandai Namco UK for providing us with a PC copy of the game for this review.