Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is one of the rare sports games that catches my attention. As a fan of sport anime like Hajime no Ippo or Kokoro’s Basketball, I’ve always wanted to watch the Captain Tsubasa anime. I just didn’t have the time.

I knew what it was about but circumstances always conspired whenever I have free time.

That’s why I couldn’t wait for the Captain Tsubasa game! I played one of the old Mega Drive games back in the 90s and was blown away by how awesome it was.

Now that the Playstation 4 version is here…did it live up to my expectations?

Find out by reading on!

What is Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions?

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is a football action game developed by Tamsoft for publishers Bandai Namco. It’s available for the Playstation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch. Our copy has been kindly provided to us by the awesome folks at Bandai Namco Asia. Thanks guys!

For those wondering, there are a multitude of gameplay modes in the game. Co-op and competitive multiplayer are both available with there being TWO single player campaigns. One chronicles the rise of Tsubasa Oozora (the titular Captain Tsubasa), while the other revolves around the player avatar.

Both campaigns are different enough that you’ll definitely want to play through both.

If I had to pick, I’d choose the second one (with the custom Avatar) as it has more player involvement; you can choose your starting school, responses and even improve your avatar’s stats as you play. Tsubasa’s campaign is just a story based affair.

The second campaign is a lot more involving, with a better story too. There’s a sense of progression as your avatar and the school you joined gets stronger. You can even make friends with the other players in the game to learn their special skills, which your avatar can then use!

Not for football purists!

Despite its looks, the game isn’t a full fledged football game like FIFA or the Pro Evolution series. It has the basics of football down (corners, throw-ins, offsides) but isn’t bogged down by rules like fouls (murderous tackles are a legitimate option) or cards.

Instead, the game is dictated by the players’ Spirit meter and charged shots. Whereas in other football games you need to manage your shot meter, in Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions, you’re encouraged to unleash full power shots every single time. That’s due to them being the only way to weaken goalies. Only when goalies are sufficiently weakened (by a low Spirit meter), can you then score reliably.

Full power shots aren’t just your everyday run of the mill shots too. Like the anime the game’s based on, some characters have specialized shots when you unleash with the shot meter full. These shots come with their own cutscenes, complete with your typical Japanese anime shouting and posturing.

It’s exactly what the game needs to set it apart from the glut of other football titles that most gamers are familiar with.

That’s right.

On top of that, you need to balance your players’ Spirit meter. Too low and you can’t pull off their specialty shots. Keeping the Spirit meter high is a must, but you’re also going to need to use it to dash and perform dodges.

Balance is key!

Offensives all boil down to an exciting game of chicken and tag, as you’re dodging defenders while praying that you can get off that fully charged shot in time. It’s a fresh and very novel approach to scoring in a football game and is way more fun that it seems. While pretty basic in concept, executing charged shots take a ton of skill and deft maneuvering to pull off.

Spirit’s also used in a ton of other things in-game too. Dashing requires it, as does executing special passes. Balancing your Spirit usage is a very important part of the game, which gives Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions a different feel than most sports games.

The skill part comes into play when you’re in possession or going after the ball. There’s a Rock/Paper/Scissors dynamic at work that determines how successful your plays are.

If you’re boosting, you’re susceptible to opponents bumping into you but won’t be affected by slide tackles. On the other hand, if you dodge (via the R2) button, you’re only vulnerable to opponents who try to slide the ball away. Dodge at the wrong time (or at an opponent who’s ramming you) and you lose the ball.

Captain Tsubasa Rise of New Champions

Changing up your playing style every so often is essential for success…though most of the fun comes from outsmarting your opponent.

No matter whether you’re online (co-op or competitive), faking out your foes is still one of the best things about the game.

The Looks.

Captain Tsubasa Rise of New Champions

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions looks pretty much like the anime. Well…at least the characters do. The models replicate their 2D counterparts rather well. You can even compare them via the in-game Movies mode, which has anime cutscenes from the series.

The specialized power shots are even better. They’re filled with cool imagery (I love the Tiger Shot) and animation and really make it seem like you’re playing the anime. Goalie catch animations could be better, with more variety though. The ones in the game recycle the same catches over and over, which makes things repetitive in the cutscene department.

Captain Tsubasa Rise of New Champions

Unfortunately, the backgrounds could be much better.

The stadiums are pretty basic and could be more imaginative, especially given the source is an anime. The pitches look pretty bland too, though it’s nice that it deteriorates in places where you’ve taken charged shots.

Captain Tsubasa Rise of New Champions

There’s a decent framerate behind it all, though it does tend to slowdown a bit whenever there’s a lot of players on-screen. It’s not a major issue but is noticeable with slower responses and animation. Most of the time the game’s great so there’s very little cause to worry as the slowdown only tends to occur on rare instances.

Tying it all together is the Japanese commentary. Fans who played Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer games (when it was called Winning Eleven) will feel a sense of deja vu. It’s awesome but most of the time you’ll have no idea what the commentators are talking about. That’s not an issue, you’ll be too busy with the game anyays.

The Bottom Line.

Captain Tsubasa Rise of New Champions

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is a damn fine game that accurately replicates its source material. It’s not a pure football game, but that’s fine as Captain Tsubasa’s: Rise of the New Champions unique additions elevate the game from just being another title in the crowd.

There are a couple of nitpicks but compared to the overall scheme of things, they’re minor annoyances.

At the end of the day, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions delivers exactly what it sought to; a great arcadey football game that’s a great counterpart to the series.

TLDR:

The Good.

  • Looks like an anime.
  • Fun gameplay.
  • Awesome cutscenes.
  • Multiplayer support.

The Bad.

  • Environmental graphics could use more work.
  • Tsubasa campaign is boring.
  • Some frame rate issues.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. Recently, Sal served as a juror for the Indie Game Awards at Taipei Game Show 2020. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.