Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Neil Flynn 04.09.2020

Review for Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions on Nintendo Switch

Football anime, Captain Tsubasa, has made its way to the Nintendo Switch, with its unique style of play, despite being relatively unknown in certain western markets. Could this rival EA's FIFA series, or Konami's PES line of games, which focus on realism, authenticity, and trying to recreate the real-world sport. Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions doesn't do this. The question is: can its charm and bombastic approach to gameplay really be enjoyable?

What is so different about the style of play? Captain Tsubasa: Rise of Champions takes some getting used to as the normal rulebook for football goes out of the window. It's not overly unfamiliar, though. Teams are comprised of 11 players, and played over two halves (albeit 30 minute halves), and most importantly the ball still has to end up in the back of the opposition's net. The differences come in the art of tackling, where any form of pure shoulder barging and taking an opponent's legs from behind are acceptable.

Dribbling is also remarkably different as players can skip, jump, and dance their way around opponents with a well-timed press of the ZR button, but can equally be tackled in aforementioned fashion with a simple tap of an R/ZR button press. Shooting, and in turn, shot stopping, are the other different components that make this different from the traditional football games with extravagant anime-style powered-up shots which thrust their way to the goal-mouth only to be met with an equally theatrical cut-scene save.

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All of the dramatics are based on each individuals power bar, just like with FIFA or PES. A player only has a finite amount of energy to sprint, but also to perform the dribble moves. Fail at an attempted dribble move, and a large amount of energy is sapped from the player, and if a player is too knackered, then it's much harder to get a shot away, especially a powered up one. Energy quickly replenishes, though, so it is never really an issue from play-to-play throughout the match.

The goalkeeper is not exempt from the energy bar either - in fact this is probably the most important gameplay aspect, as goalkeepers energy will deplete every time they make a save, and more than often or not as long as they have energy they will save most shots. This means that trying to score in Captain Tsubasa: Rise of Champions feels more like whittling down an enemy's life bar, although there are exceptions to this rule as individual players have specialities which means that their stats can be through the roof compared to other players on the team.

Captain choices also play an importance too, as every time a successful dribble, shot and pass is made, the overall team energy bar fills, and once full it can be used to unleash a temporary boost in power. This boost in power depends on the speciality trait of the Captain choice which could be anything from a defensive boost, or even a guaranteed goal if a shot can be unleashed on the oppositions goal. Don't be put off by this prescriptive analysis of gameplay, rather so it is the combination of all these factors that makes Captain Tsubasa: Rise of Champions a very different experience but it is also a rather thrilling and exhilarating combination of wackiness!

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The Journey contains two campaign story modes; Episode Tsubasa and Episode New Hero. The former is a beginner's course, to not only how to play the game, but it also introduces the rivals and friends in the Captain Tsubasa universe. The four-hour campaign is highly chatty, feels like filler the vast majority of the time, and gets very repetitive after a while, especially as some cut-scenes can happen during matches or half time, which can be a little intrusive when just trying to get through a match, although on the plus side at least they are fully voice-acted (in Japanese). The second story is aimed at those who have already honed their skills, and get ready to get sunk into a new campaign based on a created player. Improving this player through a series of matches and picking what team to play for are the main differences in this mode, and can offer a competent challenge.

The online mode allows players to design their own custom-made team from all the available players, although there is a limit to which players can be allowed in the team, allowing a certain balance to be achieved when playing online. Currently matchmaking can be exceptionally slow, maybe due to the fact that this is a new release, but finding opposition can sometimes take a fair few minutes. During the review process there was an element of input lag, which in a title as fast-paced as this can lead to silly, and costly mistakes that had no chance of being mitigated.

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The animations are something to marvel, with a crisp anime-shaded finish that are quick enough to not get bothered about getting too repetitive, but also long enough to appreciate its flair. Unfortunately, while the graphics look true to the source material, the frame rate, particularly in docked mode, takes a slight stumble, and looks a bit more choppy than is accepted. It's not enough to speak too negatively about it, but given that this is something that relies on fast-paced reactions and speed of play it would be helpful to have this running as smooth as possible.

This is particularly a little more frustrating as load times can be quite lengthy, even navigating menus can feel just a little step off from what it should be. Finally, the lack of a more zoomed out camera should have been available, as some camera angles can be predominantly difficult to use when the ball is up-close to the side of the 'cameraman.' These should not be a deal-breaker, as Captain Tsubasa: Rise of Champions is a great game, and these are minor downsides in an overall good package!

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Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Excitingly fresh, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of Champions captures a fun arcade and anime-style, and prioritises a zany, wacky experience. There are a couple of performance issues that could have been improved before release, but nonetheless, these can be overlooked since the core-gameplay mechanics are fun and rewarding to master. If there was ever a time to try out a new football game, then this is it.


Bandai Namco


Bandai Namco





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   


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