Between 1981 and 1988 a series of manga was published that gave a boost to football, which had not yet been successful in Japan: Captain Tsubasa, known in this country as "The Great Football Stars". At the latest when the first episodes of the anime adaptation were broadcast in 1983, Japan fell into football fever. In 1998, the national team qualified for the World Cup for the first time, and when Japan and South Korea hosted the World Cup in 2002, they even released their own World Cup anime.
The Japanese women's national team even won the world title in 2011! Some players said that the manga and anime series had triggered their enthusiasm for football at some point.
The story is a single own goal
In 2010 the last video game around the popular franchise appeared, in which we follow the experiences of the football talent Tsubasa Ohzora. After this long break, the fans have quite high expectations for the new title Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions (buy now € 53.07 /€ 44.99 ), which is now available for PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. Developer studio Tamsoft and publisher Bandai Namco want to focus not only on football gameplay, but also on the story. More precisely, the stories, in the plural. Because there are two episodes with different stories. Both play similarly to the Journey mode in FIFA, so we accompany a player on his way to winning a tournament; in one episode Tsubasa, in the other a self-made character.
Source: PC Games
As with FIFA, the stories feel like fillers. Episode 1 with Tsubasa presents us with the task of winning the state championship for secondary schools for the third time in a row with his team. The huge talent is not in top shape due to injuries. In addition to a completely inappropriate love story between two completely unimportant characters, that's about the depth of the story. Overall, the cutscenes are boring and repetitive. In addition, the story already appeared in the anime. It's a shame that nothing new is being offered to the fans here. In addition, the game is only set to Japanese. So if you don't speak the language, you won't get around the German subtitles.
Episode 2 isn't much better narrative. At least we can put our avatar together in a surprisingly detailed character editor. However, we have to unlock some hairstyles and other cosmetic items first. We then have a choice of three teams that we can play for. This decision influences the cutscenes, but it doesn't make them any more interesting. The story goes as follows: An international tournament is imminent and Japan is holding a championship to determine which players can join the national team. But the star player of our team is injured but doesn't want to tell anyone about it. Is that familiar to you? Apart from the different characters and the fact that it is a different tournament, the story feels the same as in episode 1! But in the second episode we have the choice for the team and the opportunity to change the story through decisions. At least that's how it's sold to you. In practice, these options are completely irrelevant and hardly change the course of events. In contrast to the first, episode 2 even has a feature, which makes some sense! We can gradually improve our self-made soccer hero. If we do well on the lawn, the well-known characters from history, including Tsubasa, will notice us and teach us new skills.
Source: PC Games
The idea is cool, but we never needed the new talent. The level of difficulty of the campaigns, which for whatever reason cannot be changed, is absolutely no challenge. Once you've seen the gameplay, the game is pretty easy to master.
The ball sticks to the player … literally
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions does a lot differently than its soccer game competition: Besides "little things" like the fact that the game is played for 60 minutes instead of 90 minutes, the biggest difference is probably the stamina bar. It doesn't even exist here. Instead, there is a will display that shows how much willpower is in the player. Without this, no player can run or cheat and the goalkeeper can hardly keep a shot. The will bar fills up by itself over time. But it is faster through successful dribbling maneuvers. Changing players is completely unnecessary. The will display works a little differently for the goalkeeper. It empties when his goal is shot and only refills when the keeper has allowed a goal or after half-time. A goalkeeper with full will is as good as insurmountable. Fast surprise goals are made almost impossible if the striker's values are not massively above those of the keeper. Nevertheless, a high victory is not uncommon, as there are only three levels of difficulty that are far too easy. Other problems are the few camera positions, which are all too close to the action, and the referee's direct final whistle while we are still in the attack. These problems alone are not serious, but they are annoying.
In order to score, it is important to take what is known as a super shot. To do this, we have to hold down the button several seconds before the end to charge the shot. As a result, you keep running in circles in the 16-meter room until the display is filled. Since the ball doesn't care about any laws of physics, that's not a problem, because the ball sticks to the player like it did in the old days of FIFA 2000. Tactical finesse is just as unnecessary as you can dribble out players at the push of a button. If we press the button at the right moment, we can get to the opposing goal almost undisturbed and single-handedly. Only with luck and the right timing can the ball be separated from the opponent with a hard tackle or a blood stick. We don't have to fear punishments for such an approach, because there are no fouls. Quite apart from the more than questionable gameplay, the game also looks like it was released ten years ago, except for the cool staged super shots. But they also repeat themselves very quickly.
It's better to shoot together
Of course, it is also possible to kick the round in the square with up to three friends. Co-op can even make the game really fun, even if the problems mentioned above are still there. There is also an online mode where you can compete with other players using a league system. The basic structure of this system is quite simple: we win, we move up a league, we lose, we move down. The first couple of matches are played against the AI before we can venture into real players. But if you're just looking for a quick game, you can create or join a lobby. Long waiting times are not uncommon, even though the game was only recently released. On the PC, some players state that the online mode is hardly playable due to game crashes and bugs, at least we did not have these problems while playing.
But if we are still too bad to take on real players, we can practice a little in training mode. We have the choice between free practice, corner exercises and penalty shoot-outs. The latter does not actually have to be trained, as the mini-game is based entirely on luck and does not require any skill. Incidentally, there are no free kicks in matches, even if one occurs in a cutscene in the story.
Nostalgia hits the childhood gate
Source: PC Games
But to lose a few positive words: Anyone who likes the Captain Tsubasa franchise will feel at home here: familiar faces, familiar stories, familiar music. The animations are as if they came from the anime. The small videos that you unlock during the course of the game are pure fan service. There you can look at past events of the anime again summarized, if you no longer have everything in your head. If you want to go on a nostalgic trip to your childhood, you are definitely in good hands with the game and every now and then the matches are even a little bit fun. But you have to gamble with blinders to hide the countless negative aspects of the game.
Captain Tsubasa disappoints all along the (goal) line
Captain Tsubasa is far from a good game with an unnecessary story, questionable gameplay, and outdated graphics. When I think about the fact that the game costs whole food, I'm almost angry at how outrageously developer studio Tamsoft and publisher Bandai Namco want to pull the money out of the fans of the franchise's pockets. Even as a die-hard Captain Tsubasa fan, I would think twice about accessing here.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions in the test: Japanese football game disappointed (1) (Source: PC Games)
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