The football genre in video games has been dominated by EA Sports and their FIFA franchise so it is quite refreshing to see a game like Captain Tsubasa, which is based on a licensed soccer anime, brought to life with a video game. This anime has still retained its popularity despite running a long time ago, and it was good to see a videogame that attempts to bring the creativity of the anime to life with its gameplay.
Bandai Namco partnered with Tamsoft to publish Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions. As someone who has seen Captain Tsubasa but wasn’t a big fan of the anime itself, I was curious to see how a soccer anime could translate into a video game. My first impression was that they have done a great job with the art style. It practically looks like an anime that was brought to life. There are even important events during a match that are a throwback to similar events in the anime and they play out like a movie and look great with the art style.
The first impressions of the gameplay are also positive. Captain Tsubasa is not aiming to be the next FIFA. It just offers fun arcade gameplay that is also engaging while offering a decent difficulty curve. The difficulty of the game itself scales dynamically based on its single-player story mode. When we first start it, we get to play through a warm-up match that also acts as a tutorial. The game continues to teach new skills and moves through tutorials as the player makes progress through the story mode.
There is support for both online and offline multiplayer mode in Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions. The single-player story mode is divided into two sections with one of them dealing with the story from the perspective of Captain Tsubasa while the other one dealing with a new hero that has been specially created for the video game. The story is presented with a mix of cutscenes and static conversation scenes. Each story event usually involves a match with the difficulty determined by the opposing side. At the start, it is really easy to score a goal but once you dive deeper and play more matches, it gets slightly harder.
It is clear after playing the game that the developers have taken inspiration from EA Sports’ FIFA series. The single-play mode is akin to The Journey story mode. While Captain Tsubasa’s story will cover events from the original anime, players can also attempt to play a new hero who has to go through the struggles of surviving in professional soccer, which is quite similar to The Journey. The way tutorials are placed is also similar to how we experience them in FIFA.
One aspect of the game that can be a mixed bag is the gameplay. It is good at times but also starts to feel repetitive since it lacks the variety of FIFA. While it is understandable why the developers opted for a more simplified arcade-style gameplay, the process of scoring a goal usually involves repeating the same tasks and there are not many ways using which we can dynamically score a goal. There are cool anime powers that lead to thrilling chases and scoring moments but beneath it all, the gameplay does feel a little shallow. If we had stripped the aspects of anime from this game, it would have been a terrible sports video game.
The addition of offline and online multiplayer means that this will offer a decent replay value over time. I enjoyed the offline multiplayer but didn’t get a chance to properly test out the online gameplay. Regardless, it was nice to see that the developers have opted to support the game with these multiplayer gameplay modes instead of just focusing on the single-player.
If you are a fan of Captain Tsubasa, this is one amazing game to get, almost like a dream come true. It is well-made, follows the story from the anime that lets fans experience their favorite moments, and also has good replay value. Even if you don’t follow Captain Tsubasa and generally like football games, this is not a bad choice at all. It can prove to be a fun alternative to FIFA where realism matters more than gameplay.
Going forward, I hope that Bandai Namco continues to spend the effort in licensed anime games like Captain Tsubasa because, quite frankly, most of their attempts can be disappointing. They are a hit and miss when it comes to licensed anime games, see One Punch Man, but with Captain Tsubasa, they have a sure-fire hit on their hands.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions, based on the globally beloved anime series, is an action soccer game featuring the latest graphics and super plays anyone can enjoy.
Final Score - 7.5/10
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions breaks the norm of conventional licensed anime games by tackling a cult-classic and bringing it to life in a video game. It is an admirable first effort that is highly enjoyable.