Tuesday 20 October 2020

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions ★★★★☆

Welcome to our review of Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions, available on PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. Sports games aren’t what they used to be. In days gone by, you could expect a plethora of arcade-y, often ridiculous titles to coincide with the more realistic simulations. For every Madden title there was a NFL Blitz. For every FIFA there was a Mario Strikers Charged. Nowadays, these more novel outings are few and far between, but developers Tamsoft are looking to rectify this with their latest release Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions.

Based on the classic manga series Captain Tsubasa, Rise of New Champions looks to blend football with roleplaying and quintessential anime madness. But does it hit the back of the net, or is it a big fat own goal? Read on to find out…

The most impressive thing is it’s a great sports game first with layers of anime silliness layered on top. Even if you’re not too enamoured by the latter, it still offers competitive, fast gameplay that offers the same addictive, competitive gameplay as you’d expect from FIFA or PES. However, be prepared for a few major departures from this tried and tested formula too. For example, if you perform an action in just the right way (such as a tackle or shot on goal), expect an anime close up with dramatic camera angles and sound effects. What’s more, stringing together passages of play will grant you special abilities, like super powerful strikes. 

This base game is complemented by two massive story modes. In Episode: Tsubasa, you play as the titular hero in a more linear story, with plenty of over the top drama. Episode: New Hero is much more open ended, starring you in more of a career mode framework. Not having watched the anime or read the manga, this reviewer preferred the accessibility of the latter, but there’s definitely plenty to love about both. 

It’s also worth noting that this is one good looking game. The anime artstyle is an absolute delight, and works so well to augment the drama of the sport. Even the fictional players of different nations are absolutely charming; where else can you hear your English centre forward shout ‘Blimey!’? What’s less impressive is some of the technical aspects of the experience. The load times can often be inexcusably long, particularly on the Switch. We also encountered some graphical glitches, which isn’t just annoying, but essentially game breaking,  in a competitive sports title like this. Fortunately, the glitches were a lot less prevalent than the wait times, and didn’t tarnish our enjoyment all that much.

To wrap up, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is the arcade football game from the modern player. It combines a solid sporting experience with enough charm and heart to really set itself apart from it’s more simulation-based counterparts. Whether you’re a fan of the manga, or just discovering it for the first time, you’re sure to have a blast lacing up your vibrant, anime boots.

Tom Baker

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