Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Bandai Namco was kind enough to send me a PC copy to review and its been a mixed bag for me. I enjoy some sports games and soccer ones are some of my favorites, but I’m not very good at them. Overall, if you like soccer games, this is probably going to be a game you love. Even with some tweaks to make the game more dramatic and anime, the game really is a soccer game at heart.
So, the game has two story modes. Episode: Tsubasa has you follow the story of the anime as you play as Tsubasa as he goes from Nankatsu Middle School soccer team star to a national soccer star. Episode: New Hero is where you get to create your own character, have them join one of the school teams (your choice) except Nankatsu and have more of an RPG experience. You’ll talk with NPCs, level up your character’s stats, and have a more personal story experience. Both modes are fun, but it is recommended that you play Episode: Tsubasa first. This is helped by the fact that throughout Episode: Tsubasa, you’ll be able to refresh different skills and it really does serve as a good training tool.
One of the tricks is that once you start a Campaign, you cannot adjust the difficulty of the campaign. This came to be a real problem for me. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not the greatest at sports games, but I typically do well enough. In the Medium difficulty, I only beat the first few parts of the story with penalty shootouts. Then, I lost to the next team and couldn’t get past them. So, I started over on Easy and was finally able to win those first few games sans-shootouts. However, once again, I couldn’t win against the next team. I have found this to be extremely frustrating that they have a move that seemingly guarantees them a minimum of 3 points since apparently the goalie can’t block it the first few times it’s used. Meanwhile, it’s a struggle for me to get 1 point against this team no matter how much I practice. Personally, I feel like the difficulty shoots up like crazy against the team with the twins. I admit that I suck, but I feel like I should still be able to go through the story on Easy.
The graphics aren’t anything special in my opinion. The character models look like they’re pulled straight from the anime in all their 80s fashion and glory. They’re not mind-blowing graphics, but they’re decent and there’s nothing bad about them.
The gameplay itself when you’re in a match is pretty fun and definitely what you’d expect from any of the more traditional soccer games. There shouldn’t be any big surprises there. You switch control of characters across your team in order to pass it down and score. Pretty standard, but the signature shots and passing moves help it feel more dramatic. Plus, the cutscenes add that little anime flair.
One feature that I’m still torn on is that on PC you can use a controller. This is good. However, even if you use a controller, that doesn’t lock out the keyboard and mouse controls, making it very easy to accidentally bump something and have the control scheme change for a second. I kind of wish you had to choose which control scheme you wanted to use and it locked the other out.
Another feature I wish the game had was English voices. It’s just a small thing that I wish was in all anime games, but I’m sure it can be a headache for the production teams.
All-in-all, Rise of New Champions is maybe a little too difficult, but can still provide some soccer anime fun. It is pretty niche though as you do need to like soccer and anime to get the most enjoyment out of it.