Video Game Music of the Week – 04-10.03.2013

Captain Tsubasa V was a relatively big departure from the established style of the Tsubasa games, but, after more careful examination, the difference was mostly visual. You could see players in a side view on the pitch now, but the ability to pause play at any moment and select your action remained. Still, some changes to important mechanics, like offsides finally being introduced, made the game quite unique within the series. But what I loved most about it was the important role given to Nitta, one of my favourite Tsubasa characters. It was also fascinating that V featured quite a few real-life footballers’ fictional representations (Batistuta, Effenberg, Papin, etc.). Like its predecessors, Captain Tsubasa V had a nice soundtrack, the final match being quite awesome with both teams’ themes being really good. The one I’ve chosen is Japan’s final match theme, which is based on the old penalty kicks theme, but quite different.

Composers: Hiroshi Miyazaki, Chinatsu Okayasu
Game: Captain Tsubasa V: Hasha no Shougou Campione
Song: Japan’s Theme – Final Match

Video Game Music of the Week – 25.02-03.03.2013

Captain Tsubasa IV was quite the pioneer in the series, introducing awesome stuff like branching scenario paths (there were 4 different main scenarios), and different weather during matches. Unfortunately, some simple things kept it from being truly great, such as the fact that aerial shots (volleys and headers) were WAY stronger than ground shots, to the point where hitting a normal volley with a player was more powerful and more likely to turn into a goal than using that player’s special ground shot. But still, the conversion of Tsubasa and company to pros was imagined and presented in a fascinating way. And, in 2-player mode, the game even featured legendary Japanese “real-life” footballer Kazuyoshi Miura, also known as “King Kazu”, or simply “KAZU” in the game. Captain Tsubasa IV also had a really good soundtrack, and I’m sharing one of my favourite songs with you today – Italy’s theme, which plays during one of the four possible final matches of the game.

Composer: Hiroshi Miyazaki (a.k.a. Sugito Miyashiro)
Game: Captain Tsubasa IV: Pro no Rival Tachi
Song: Italy’s Theme

Video Game Music of the Week – 18-24.02.2013

Captain Tsubasa III was a great successor to the glorious second game. As the first entry of the Tecmo series on the SNES, it kept strictly to the “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” rule, adding some sweet things like 2-player mode. Some small shortcomings like the relatively low difficulty in comparison to the ruthless Captain Tsubasa II, less exciting story, and graphics and character art that couldn’t quite match the second game, which had achieved pretty much the maximum possible on the NES, kept it from being as revered as Captain Tsubasa II in fans’ hearts, but it was still a really good game. The soundtrack had a few gems, too, even if the composer was different this time. One of my favourites is the first Japan theme, which I’m sharing with you today.

Composer: Shake Keijin
Game: Captain Tsubasa III: Koutei no Chousen
Song: Japan’s Theme (1st)

Video Game Music of the Week – 11-17.02.2013

In the good old days when I’d rent NES games (primarily of the bootleg kind), the cartridge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project was on when I first came across it was one of those many-in-one carts. It had neat games like Binary Land, Arkanoid and Wrecking Crew… But it also had an amazing game that pretty much took over my life at the time, and has been my favourite ever since. Tecmo’s Captain Tsubasa II: Super Striker – the football/soccer RPG whose excellence I already talked about in the Top 10 Hidden NES Gems list. I remember when I first found out the sound test menu by accident, I was so happy I could listen to my favourite music from the game for as long as I wanted. Today, I’m sharing my favourite theme from Captain Tsubasa II, the theme of Hyuga and Wakashimazu’s Toho FC, which you’ll hear during one of the most difficult matches in the game. It’s quite badass, fitting the team and especially its captain nicely.

Composers: Mayuko Okamura, Mikio Saito, Keiji Yamagishi
Game: Captain Tsubasa vol. II: Super Striker
Song: Hyuga’s Theme (Toho FC)

Captain Tsubasa: New Kick Off

I’ve been a Captain Tsubasa fan ever since I first came across the anime on the Italia 1 channel when I was 10… It’s a manga and anime series about young Japanese football/soccer players, with the main character Tsubasa being a rising Japanese football star. I’m a big fan of the sport, and I like anime quite a bit – you can see why the combination captivated me easily. A great part of it is the matches themselves, with so much drama in the close ones, with special shots and acrobatic goalkeepers. But the relationships between the players on and off the pitch are also nicely depicted.

Needless to say, coming across my first Captain Tsubasa game – the second installment of Tecmo’s Captain Tsubasa series on the NES, brought me much delight. Especially considering it was not a mere football simulation game – it was a football RPG, one worthy of the flashiness and the emphasised importance of a team’s best player in the anime. The closest mainstream gaming has come to Tecmo’s Captain Tsubasa series’ unique style is the Blitzball mini-game in Final Fantasy X – and believe me, Blitzball is a really watered-down version of the Captain Tsubasa games. Anyway, Captain Tsubasa II is still my favourite game of all time, one I could play at any time and never get bored, despite having beaten it so many times I’ve lost count and having done all kinds of special runs. Unfortunately, the game I will review here is just not in the same league…

Captain Tsubasa New Kick Off Cover

Game: Captain Tsubasa: New Kick Off
Developer: Konami
Platform: DS
Original release: 2010
Territories: Japan, Europe

Captain Tsubasa: New Kick Off (Gekitou no Kiseki in Japan) is Konami’s first attempt at returning the Tsubasa games to the genre that proved to suit them best – RPG. The license over the franchise has changed hands multiple times – first it was Tecmo’s, then Bandai’s, now Konami’s. Only Tecmo did it right, the other two simply failed to match the quality of the Tecmo Tsubasa games. A big reason for that was that Tecmo’s games were RPGs with very particular gameplay – you hold the ball and move through the field, at any time you can stop and take your time to choose what to do next – shoot, pass, or go on forward. Similarly, in defence, you pick a player to chase the opponent with, if you get close, you choose whether to tackle, try to intercept a pass or block a shot. If you manage to predict the opponent’s action, you have a higher chance of taking the ball away. That just worked great for a franchise like Tsubasa because it’s all about the tactics, the special shots and conserving your energy to do them at the right time. Trying more action-y games just never worked out very well. And the RPG approach is the one Konami took here. When I learned that to be the case, I was overjoyed, I had waited a long time to play a new Tsubasa RPG…

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