Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions it’s not exactly a football game. It was made with the sport in mind, it is sold as a representative of the sporting genre, inspired by an anime that brings football as its main subject. Although it seems presumptuous to claim, it goes further. It’s about access, control and nostalgia.
Released to PS4 and Switch, produced by the studio Tamsoft and published by the veteran Bandai Namco, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions it is a game about having control over everything: the ball, the players, the energy bar of each one. And sometimes you may not be in control of anything.
It may seem that I’m making up a lot here, but I promise I’ll explain my point of view. Follow!
We are Super Champions
If you are over 25 or 30 and the name “Captain Tsubasa”Doesn’t bring you any memories, there’s a good reason. Over here, this name was found as Super champions, an anime series that was shown in the 90s, on the already non-existent Rede Manchete, inspired by a manga of the same name.
But Captain Tsubasa goes far beyond that. The manga, created by Yoichi Takahashi, is a huge cultural product in Japan. It is not by chance that Ozora “Oliver” Tsubasa is constantly associated with gigantic sporting events that take place there, such as the Soccer World Cup or even the Games Olympic. When Japan came to play the Cup in Brazil, for example, a jacket inspired by the character came to be produced.
Today, there are dozens of manga and a handful of anime that tell the story of Captain Tsubasa, almost always focused on the Ozora Tsubasa saga and his tireless quest to become a recognized football player worldwide. In addition, at least 20 games have been released since the emergence of the manga, to this day.
The summary of the opera is that Super champions they are not only famous in Brazil, and look that here we had only three versions of anime shown (1994, 2001 and 2018), but also in their homeland, where they are revered as a product of great cultural reach.
Even with the enormous popularity, until today, no video game of Captain Tsubasa it had been released outside Japan, at least in English.
We were kind of “almost there” with the series around here for a few years. In 1993 the game Tecmo Cup Football Game, from Mega Drive, would be the first representative of Captain Tsubasa to be released in English, but ended up canceled. Many years later, on cell phones, simpler games, to unlock characters and with several ads, they came out here, but something was still missing.
With Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions Bandai Namco scores two goals: it is the first video game of the saga to be officially launched in the West and also the first to arrive entirely in Portuguese-Brazilian. It is a beautiful surprise for those who grew up and, today, want to remember the stories of Tsubasa and his friends in our language.
But not only that.
Ball rolling on field
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is a game that more or less adapts the main story of the Super Champions saga. He has a story mode that follows Oliver Tsubasa’s journey from his school club, Nankatsu, to world stardom. In addition, there is room for other surprises.
Anyone who begins to venture into the game is surprised by some tutorials that are even a little long. But they are necessary. This is a game that takes the concept of “football games” and cheers until you can’t.
As you quote at the beginning of the text, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions it’s not exactly a football game. It may be “about”, but “from”, no.
The rules in the field follow similar to those of the real sport. There are fouls, albeit rare, impediments, free-kicks, penalty kicks, goal shots… A lot here has in common with what is seen on the real field and in games like FIFA and PES, but the operation is totally different.
The gameplay of Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is based on the concept of Claw, which is an energy bar, more or less breath and animation, which determines how your players will behave in the match. It is with the Claw that we can manage possession, try to score a goal or steal the opponent’s ball.
That’s where the big difference is between this and titles like FIFA and the like. While there the concern is with the simulation of the real world, here the simulation is another: to imitate the anime in all possible details, with the control in the hand of the one who is playing. And this is done even with a certain quality, always taking the fun first.
Precisely because it has a very peculiar and different system, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions it’s hard to get used to. The players are fast, the animations are exaggerated and some moves can shock the purists – try to steal the ball by giving a literal blow to the opponent and watch him fall to the ground without any foul being applied.
The Claw system is not perfect. Although it makes sense, it doesn’t always work. It fails especially with the goalkeeper and, to make matters worse, there are special kicks – I will get to them – that are indefensible. At the end of the day, there is a taste of “luck” that doesn’t go well with a game that promotes strategy.
Exaggerated to the end
Those who already know the original work will not be surprised. Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions has all the exaggerations seen in the anime that were shown in Brazil. Kicks that look more like special blows from Street Fighter, absurdly unreal runs, jumps of more than five meters in the air, performed by an elementary school student only with the strength of his small feet and legs.
And that’s good. Not only is it faithful to the original material, it also makes the game stand out even more from the “competitors”!
However, at the same time that should please the nostalgic and those who are used to the exaggerated aesthetics of “fighting anime” that Super Champions has adopted, it will cause a lot of surprise to those who are not used to it. In a way, it is regretted, because Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions it comes to a very specific type of audience – even though I argue that games need to be as comprehensive as possible.
Still, let’s go to the gameplay factor: creating these epic and exaggerated moments is not exactly easy. In story mode, you need to take key actions on the pitch to see some of the most famous shots. Within simple matches, unrelated to the plot, only a few players have the special skills.
Everything, again, is also related to the Claw. The longer it takes to kick a goal, combined with the Claw, the easier it will be to activate the special shot and try to score an impressive goal that almost punctures the net behind the goalposts.
Also know that it is almost impossible to score a goal without making a special shot. In most normal moves the goalkeeper will defend all his attacks. That’s why Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions it requires practical training and, above all, custom with its unique gameplay style and genre.
Extra mode and more content
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions it’s not just the story of the boy Oliver, or Ozora, the name you prefer to call it. The game has other modes that are worth exploring and losing some extra time.
The first one is the New Hero, which lets you build a new player in the series and play your own “career to stardom”. This was a very interesting choice, as the main plot is a little tiring, in terms of many scenes of dialogue and without great surprises for those who already know the narrated story.
The other modalities are basically multiplayer and local games that can be played against other players or against the computer. At the beginning there was little content released, including world teams there, but Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions it also has an interesting system of unlocking content, either through purchases with play money or fulfilling requirements throughout the matches (the Brazilian team, for example, is one of the unlockables!).
Multiplayer still has a very interesting option, which leaves up to four participants in the same match, two for each side between the two teams present in the dispute. Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions it does the job right when it comes to delivering content that escapes the mere main story, and the story itself is already big and can be played several times.
As I mentioned above, at the beginning of the text, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions says a lot about control and nostalgia, which I have already covered, but also about access. As it is a game that evokes football, it introduces the sporting genre to a whole new niche of players who do not consider the “competitors”, such as FIFA and PES, friendly.
And when I talk about competitors, put a lot of quotes in your imagination. They are games with very different proposals, which have in common with Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions just the fact that they involve football. Still, it’s a fun and interesting option, after all.
Realize that, as I presented, the brand of Captain Tsubasa it has an immense appeal even today and also serves a nostalgic feeling from a past generation. With scope for a large audience, it also means being the gateway for a person who would not normally play a FIFA match, but who will want to follow what Ozora Tsubasa did, with the command in hand.
I myself am not the biggest fan of traditional football games, despite participating in some leagues, but I got really excited during Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions and I found myself vibrating when I scored a goal or disarmed the opponent’s play, with all those special and exaggerated effects.
To top it off, the fact that it is subtitled in Portuguese only helps everything. To dream of a dubbing would be, perhaps, a little too much, considering that not even a recent game of Dragon Ball, which is even more popular, has received audio treatment in our language. Still, it’s a good job of localization.
It may seem like a big trip, but the power that a well-launched, produced and localized game has can change the way in which a person consumes video games and relates to the media. In this sense, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions comes out very well.
- Adapts the anime very well
- Extra game modes
- Interesting multiplayer
- Opens the door to a new audience
- Exciting as few
- Confusing start commands
- Too long tutorials
- Pace of the story is slow