Hands on With Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions

We were recently invited to Bandai Namco Entertainment America’s New Year Showcase in San Francisco and got to check out a handful of the publisher’s upcoming titles. The first game I played (and the first game to have its embargo lifted) was the recently announced Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions; An action-packed, fast-paced, and arcade-style footy that pitted two middle school teams against each other, each having their own super captain.

Captain Tsubasa Returns

The Captain Tsubasa manga series first debuted back in 1981 by Yōichi Takahashi. It has had quite few video games created to go along with millions of volumes of manga sold in the series. While the series may not be super popular here in the West, it is extremely popular in Japan, with over 70 million volumes of manga sold there. That’s a lot of manga. The last console game released for the PlayStation 2 back in 2006 but was never released in the US.  You can easily find low priced import copies of that game on eBay if you still have a functioning PS2 or a backward compatible PS3.

The PS4 demo for the newest game in the series, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions, had two teams to choose from, each with one captain whose skills were maxed out. The Nankatsu Middle School was led by Tsubasa Ozoro, the game’s namesake, and the Toho Academy was led by Kojiro Hyuga, Tsubasa’s number one rival. Regardless of which team I chose—and I tried them both multiple times—the opposing captain was a beast to stop.

Manga Style Graphics and Arcade Gameplay

If you are looking for a realistic, FIFA-style football game, you are in the wrong place. Manga and anime fans will instantly recognize the graphics style. This doesn’t mean the game is hard on the eyes, as the graphics are very smooth and polished, with animations that are entertaining to see, albeit frustrating when the other captain is using one of his super moves to drive your goalie deep into the net. Character art is also very detailed and looks to stay true to the series.

Gameplay is fast and fluid and requires you to pay attention to a player’s stamina. Once you have the ball in your possession, you only need to move the analog stick the direction you want to dribble it, but if your stamina drains down, your passing ability is very limited. Technically the game is very simple and easy to play, with simple passing, stealing, and blocking mechanics. Shoulder charges and slide kicks are very effective if timed just right, but stopping these against the CPU is also easy enough with good timing.

Practice Required

The more I played the game, the better I became. My first match I lost 5 – nil, and couldn’t stop Captain Hyuga to save my life. When I switched sides, it was Captain Tsubasa who was too hard to handle but his team only beat me 3 – nil. After switching back, I finally started to move the ball successfully downfield by passing right before an opponent had the chance to steal, and I scored my first goal on a superkick by Tsubasa. I still lost the match 4-2, but I was improving and slowly learning the proper timing. In time, I might actually be able to win a match or two.

Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions doesn’t have a release date yet, but is earmarked for 2020. It’s possible that the demo I played may get a release prior to the game’s release, but the rep wasn’t sure if that was in the cards. Keep your fingers crossed because the demo was quite a bit of footy fun.