I love anime games and arcade sports so combine the 2 and what do you get? Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions! Let's get to it.
When I first watched the trailer for Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions, I was blown away. Having never heard of Captain Tsubasa previously, its graphical style and sense of character really impressed me and now that I played it, I must say that its gameplay definitely has as well. While on defense, you can dash and tackle to reclaim the ball and on offense, you can pass, lob, or shoot. There are added complexities that keep the gameplay exciting, too, such as activating V-Zone mode to boost your team, performing dribble moves to block tackles, and holding the shoot button to deploy a special powered-up shot. Meanwhile, players have their own stamina gauges that play a crucial role in their ability to perform offensive and defensive moves so regularly passing the ball is a must. All of this comes together to create an intuitive yet fully-featured gameplay formula that makes for surprisingly tense matches.
Of course, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is based on a manga series so it has plenty of story between and throughout matches in its The Journey mode. These sequences are interwoven within matches beautifully and often make an impact on the match itself. For example, you may see a rival attempt to score a goal after taunting Tsubasa then failing so you can then execute a free corner kick. However, I found the story to be quite stereotypical of an aspiring sports star and it didn't hold my attention for long. The best part about it is watching how Tsubasa embraces challenges which can be kind of inspirational. To tie everything together, the graphics are absolutely fantastic and it feels like a living anime world complete with thrilling soccer matches that are highlighted with striking visual effects. Plus, the Japanese voice-overs and orchestral soundtrack do a spot-on job at making the matches even more exciting.
The amount of content within Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is impressive. Not only is there a story mode that follows Tsubasa, there's another one that lets you play as your own character as you rise through the ranks. On top of that, there's local multiplayer for up to 4 players, an online versus mode, and a practice menu that lets you master tutorials and situations as well as train freely. Next, you can edit your character and dream team if you really want to go in-depth as you earn customization parts, items, and additional characters. Finally, as you play, you'll unlock movie scenes, music tracks, challenges, and character info in a comprehensive collection mode.
Last but not least, I'll describe Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions' less desirable aspects. For starters, this isn't the kind of game that you just dive in to and immediately enjoy as being able to play it effectively requires a great deal of patience and practice. Yes, the core controls are intuitive but the AI and online players can be downright ruthless so you really have to hone your skills if you want a chance at winning. Therefore, less patient gamers will find it tough to enjoy while those looking for a challenge will love the degree of difficulty. The only other major complaint I have is that shooting goals is far too straightforward. In other soccer games, you can aim which is a crucial component of scoring but here, you seem to just charge a gauge then watch what unfolds via a flashy scene.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions may seem like a niche title but it's sure to appeal to anyone who enjoys arcade sports games, especially ones with a steep degree of difficulty. Its flashy, challenging, and intense matches truly hit a home run. Oops, wrong sport.
- + Tight arcade soccer gameplay featuring intuitive yet comprehensive controls
- + Awesome visuals and flashy effects
- + Lots of modes and content to enjoy
- - Challenge can be too unforgiving for less patient players
- - Shooting goals could use more complexity
- - Story is rather stereotypical