Tsubasa +, the review: Holly and Benji merge with Pokémon Go

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Aina Martin
Author and references

We continue the revival of Holly and Benji with the Tsubasa + review, new mobile game dedicated to the famous series that transports the football universe created by Yoichi Takahashi in a particular context that recalls the structure of Pokémon GO and derivatives. After Captain Tsubasa: Rise of new Champions we are faced with a particular reinterpretation of the manga / anime, with multiplayer and social grafts and the emphasis placed above all on the collecting characters and footballers various. It is not such an absurd idea, if you think about it: the world of football has always lent itself to this now historical mechanism thanks to the old habit of stickers and in this sense we can see Tsubasa + as a sort of videludic extension of this game. Obviously with related expenses, considering the amount of micro-transactions that supports the whole system.

However, there is also a certain gameplay behind the spasmodic search for players to conquer, ranging from the matches themselves, a central element in the whole game, to the management and organization of the team, with a considerable amount of layered activities. Note that the game has the FIFPRO license, which results in a strange fusion of characters from the manga with real footballers that can be conquered gradually: in Tsubasa + we do not find ourselves playing only against the characters of the series, trying to complete the various historical teams of the anime, but also against a large number of real footballers belonging to international championships and leagues, reproduced in this case with a different graphic style but still caricatured.

The general structure is typical of Pokémon GO or Minecraft Earth-type titles: the game is based on Google maps to recreate the area surrounding the player in a simplified map, where we can find stadiums created by other players or positioned near places of public interest. At first we have to create our character through an editor set according to the graphic style of the Captain Tsubasa anime and then build one stadium near your home, so you can access it easily every time you log in, but a good part of the gameplay lies in exploring the map and searching for other stadiums, the only way to access a greater quantity and variety of players from defeat and conquer.

Here we encounter the first problem of Tsubasa +: beyond a not exactly reactive response to the GPS detection of the user's movements, the coverage of the maps in Spain is still very incomplete and in many areas it is impossible to find marked places of interest, so often the areas are deserted making it impossible to play. We are still at the beginning of the service and it is a question of seeing if the Miraire team intends to evolve the support from this point of view, as well as waiting for the user to expand and build stadiums with which to interact, therefore on this juncture the judgment is suspended, for the moment.

On and off the pitch

There is a good amount of different activities on which to engage between direct clashes, training, team management and various upgrades, but everything passes through the consumable objects that are the basis of any action. These are mainly spheres of energy to be used to take part in matches, but also modifiers, bonuses and other items that are necessary to take part in training or receive power-ups that are essential to face the most demanding matches and the structure weighs on this aspect. of micro-transactions that supports the free-to-play by Tsubasa +: it is the same situation that we have seen with candies and Pokéballs of Pokémon GO, but here it is further complicated by a greater amount of parameters to keep an eye on and by the enormous consumption of objects determined by each single fight. The result is that, in order to be competitive and play longer sessions, the in-app purchases they become preponderant.

The mechanism is easily understood by examining a simple one-on-one match, which is the basis of the gameplay as regards the conquest of new players and the evolution of one's character: Tsubasa + does not stage real football matches but rather the fate of street football performances where two players collide in a head-to-head made of tricks and throw to spin. There is no direct control over the character because the action is limited to associating the largest possible amount of spheres of the same color (up to a maximum of five) in the shortest possible time, and then holding down with perfect timing. in order to frame the target that appears on the screen and launch the shot with maximum power and precision before the opponent does it. To play, in fact, it is therefore necessary to have a good amount of spheres available, considering the consumption that is made of them at each game and this is already a relevant aspect in the dynamics of collection and management of resources. Furthermore, the outcome of the clash is not always understandable, since this is often decided by fractions of a second and is visible only at the end, giving the impression that it is strongly dominated even by non-transparent parameters or directly by chance.

The outcome of each match is only partially linked to the player's speed, because the power level achieved by the characters, and it is often necessary to compensate for the huge imbalances that can occur with the most important and coveted footballers with the application of special bonuses and skills. This introduces the need to acquire more objects, which from the simple regular distribution on a daily basis (at login, at the entrance to the various stadiums that meet on the map or by completing the objectives) are often not sufficient and therefore they also focus on micro-transactions. There is a large amount of activities to take part in, but all in some way still depend on the presence of consumables, so this problem of supplying energy spheres is always present, even if you want to dedicate yourself to training, progression of their players or team management, which represent alternative game elements of a certain interest.


Tested version Android, iPad 1.1.2 Digital Delivery App Store, Google Play Price Free Resources4Gaming.com


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As strange as it may seem, the idea of ​​associating the dynamics of Pokémon GO with a football game makes a certain sense and with its spirit of collecting it is linked to the ancient tradition of stickers. From this point of view, the association with real footballers also takes on a certain depth, even if this mix between the famous characters of the anime and the real players reproposed in caricature form seems to displease both the fans of Captain Tsubasa and the pure football fans (categories which do not necessarily overlap, however). The concept of Tsubasa + works, in short, the problem is not just in the structure of the game, between a simplistic but difficult to interpret gameplay and a large amount of actions to be carried out but all closely linked to consumables, which does nothing but push. towards micro-transactions.


  • Captain Tsubasa meets the real world, an interesting marriage on paper
  • Lots of activities to carry out between matches and player and team management
  • Head-to-head gameplay requires a certain amount of speed
  • The association of colored spheres tires very quickly
  • Anime characters and real players struggle to blend together
  • All too much focused on a high consumption of items to conquer or buy
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