Tecmo Cup Soccer / Captain Tsubasa – Football RPG

Old Weird Games digs up forgotten weird games from the past and takes a peek at the interesting and unique game design in them.

Platform: NES
Genre: RPG / Sports
Tecmo Cup Soccer was the westernized version of the Japanese game Captain Tsubasa, I’m using it because it was translated to English for the NES. They’re basically the same game though.

Tsubasa is really taking the RPG genre and stretching the definition to its limits. How do you take a set of RPG rules that add value to a different and unrelated genre like sports without alienating people who play sports games? It’s quite refreshing to see a RPG that is not themed with wizards and dragons or robots. The graphic style is impressive for the NES, obviously taking cues like camera angles and visual effects from classic anime style. Kind of reminds me of 8-bit Phoenix Wright.

Nintendo World CupWhen me and my brother bought this game in the early 90’s, we were expecting it to be like Nintendo World Cup – a simple side scrolling “arcade” football game. We didn’t totally grasp all the mechanics at first but after the initial disappointment of finding out it wasn’t what we expected, it ended up being maybe even a more memorable experience than the multiplayer Nintendo World Cup matches. I don’t think I understood that the players stats were going up after each game until coming back to the game years later. Obviously not being a native English speaker and being a kid meant that we rarely understood anything but the basic game mechanics and then explored from there.

It is a unique concept and offers hours of gameplay that is still a lot of fun these days. And sports games haven’t tried out new things like this in forever. Or maybe in Japan they have? As a mostly turn based game it shows how to create tension and dramatic situations for the player without real time action.

Tecmo Cup soccer title screen snap0001
Title screen and a shot from the intro animation.
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