Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions review: Going for the cup

Sports and anime collide with this new Captain Tsubasa game based on the hit series. Our review.

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Captain Tsubasa is a unique manga that was first created back in the early 1980s. Following the story of Tsubasa Oozora, the manga is heavily focused on the game of soccer. As with many hit mangas, Captain Tsubasa was adapted into an animated series, and video games. Developed by Tamsoft and published by Bandai Namco, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions looks to usher the hit series into a new era of gaming. 

A sense of style

One of the biggest charms of the Captain Tsubasa series is its heightened sense of reality when approaching soccer. The stunning, logic-defying moves are what’s given the property its unique style. This style is present and in full display in Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions.

When you hit the pitch, there’s a variety of over-the-top moves that can be executed. From dash tackles that leave your opponent grounded in a cloud of dust to shots that fire at the speed of sound, Rise of New Champions does a great job at capturing the stylized form of soccer popularized by its source material.

The best of them all

The story in Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions follows the titular Tsubasa Oozora as he battles through the leagues and becomes one of the world’s most renown soccer players. During the campaign, familiar faces from the manga and anime show up. This includes Kojiro, Toro, Genzo, Jun, and more. The most exciting parts of the story are the ones that happen on the pitch. Though the cutscenes were well animated, I never found myself getting invested in the narrative.

Speaking of the animation, the visuals in Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions are done extremely well. Both the series and manga are done in a 2D art style, so the 3D design is a bit of a departure from the original material. The toon shading helps the game retain the anime aesthetic, while going with a visual style that better lends itself to the gameplay.

Goal!

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions takes standard soccer gameplay, and more or less keeps it simple. It’s not a sim, and that works to the game’s advantage. There’s a variety of cool moves that players can pull off, using the skill gauge. Constantly filling while walking around and dribbling the skill gauge will deplete when using different abilities, such as dash tackling enemies and performing super moves, like the ability to quickly dart past foes while moving the ball downfield. 

The one awkward aspect I found in the gameplay came with the dribbling. In soccer, proficient dribbling is key to gaining separation from opponents and getting past them. Captain Tsubasa doesn’t have great dribbling controls outside of super moves. I often found myself just running back and forth trying to get around enemy players without losing the ball.

Last pitch effort

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions marks the franchise's return to gaming after a ten-year hiatus. This action-sports title delivers on the charisma and charm that have become synonymous with the series, despite a middling story. While there are some minor gameplay issues, Tamsoft does a great job at integrating the over-the-top and stylized acton into core soccer mechanics. Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is a more than solid addition to the long list of adaptations of the classic manga.


This review is based on a digital PS4 code provided by the publisher. Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is available now for PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch for $59.99

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

Pros
  • Great blend of standard and arcade soccer elements
  • Perfectly captures the essence of the series and manga
  • Beautiful toon shaded 3D art style
Cons
  • Story is middling
  • Could greatly benefit from better dribbling controls
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