Why the Global Release of the New "Captain Tsubasa" Game Is a Big Deal

The days of Tecmo Cup Soccer Game are long gone. Robin Field is dead. Long live Captain Tsubasa.

While anime and manga have certainly become more mainstream over the past few years, most people in the West mainly stick to seasonal releases and the big name series like Dragon Ball and Naruto.

Younger anime fans might venture out to more obscure '90s series like Yu Yu Hakusho, but by and large, '80s anime gets the shaft. This is a real shame, considering plenty of '80s anime series have great stories, compelling characters, distinct music, and a unique aesthetic specific to the era. Of course, some '80s series still possess a certain degree of global clout. Saint Seiya remains incredibly popular in Europe and South America, with a big enough following that most of its video games still get released globally.

Captain Tsubasa Rise of New Champions Bandai Namco

Captain Tsubasa, on the other hand, has never received the same degree of recognition. The series follows Tsubasa Oozora, a young boy who loves association football (soccer) and dreams of one day winning the FIFA World Cup for Japan, from the time he's 11 through his pro career. Despite its status as one of the most influential sports series, largely credited for the popularity of association football (soccer) in Japan, Captain Tsubasa never made a big enough impact in the West. Even with dedicated fan bases in Europe and South America, the series remains largely unknown within the larger anime community.

Then this dropped:

In 2020, it may not be particularly surprising to see anime games like Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot getting major hype, but there's still something special about an '80s series video game like Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions getting a proper worldwide release for the first time.

Strangely enough, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions isn't technically the first Captain Tsubasa game to get a worldwide release. The first Captain Tsubasa game, which was released for Japanese audiences on the NES in 1988, was also released in the United States and Europe in 1992. Unfortunately, the game was westernized to an unseemly degree, with the title changed to Tecmo Cup Soccer Game and the main character, Tsubasa, replaced with a blonde man named Robin Field. Of course, all the other anime characters were replaced, too.

Tsubasa and Robin Field

A worldwide release of a proper Captain Tsubasa game is definitely long-overdue, but it's also wonderful that we've reached a point where such a thing is possible. Gatekeeping might be a natural instinct for anime fans who grew up in the '80s and early '90s, passing around VHS tapes of series nobody else knew existed, but the mainstream-ization of anime is a gift to everyone. The anime community is finally large enough and diverse enough that companies are willing to take a chance on globally releasing a Captain Tsubasa game because, at long last, a large enough audience finally exists. One can only hope that other classic '80s series will follow suit.