In The Friends Of Ringo Ishikawa follows the high school delinquent Ringo, a high school senior and the leader of a gang. Being a senior, Ringo has a schedule to follow and daily challenges to overcome by using the time that Ringo has each day. You’re free to get a job, study, fight, and play games in this naturally evolving story about gangs, friendships, and growing up.
The story flows well, and with the story progressing in a more natural style, there is no handholding. Ringo goes out to do what he wants and, while travelling around the town, Ringo will naturally meet a friend and unlock more of the story. It makes it feel like it just happens and you are not forced to do it. The story and how it progresses is a massive draw for this title, and it is very entertaining.
The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa is similar in style to games like Shenmue; open-ended gameplay with the ability to do as you please during the day and a natural progression of the story. I would go as far as to say it is a 2D version of Shenmue. I do not want to go into too much detail about the game, as talking about what can be done will ruin the discovery of what is available.
In The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa, there is a significant focus on gangs and gang wars, meaning lots and lots of fights. Each gang has different coloured uniforms on. While walking about the town, these gangs will more than likely attack Ringo and his friends, but sometimes luck will be on Ringo’s side and he won’t get attacked.
As fighting is a major aspect of the game, the controls need to tight, and they are. Not only tight but simple, too, just punch, kick, block and jump. There is also an RPG element to the fighting system too; the more you land punches and kicks, the power will increase. The more you block kicks and punches, his blocking improves, too. After fights, there is EXP given, and Ringo will gain more Hit Points.
Ringo can also learn new fighting techniques, making the fights even more in-depth. If you keep attacking a curtain gang then Ringo will end up gaining an enemy and a war with the gang, giving the fights some more meaning than just beating up everyone Ringo meets.
School Life And Eating
School is important as Ringo wants to get in the Yakuza, so he needs a diploma or he will start as a low-rank member. You can study at home and can read books in the library. On top of studying, there are tests to be taken at school. If you want to, that is. Doing the tests will increase the study levels.
There is a slight survival element with Ringo needing to eat during the day. The hungrier Ringo gets, the less effective his attacks are. So make sure Ringo is always well fed.
Work, Yen, and Play
Ringo will need to get Yen to eat and buy his cigarettes, among other things. There are three ways to do this;
- Loot the bodies of gangs and take their money
- Get a job
- I will let you find this one out yourselves
Getting a job is the best way of making money in the early game as you are guaranteed money as long as you turn up for shifts on time. Some items are not cheap, so money is a must. There are quite a few mini-games to unlock and play, along with social places to visit, and places to hang out.
I find The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa to be an amazing game that flows well and has plenty on offer. If you like ‘slice of life’ games with tons to do and lots of fighting then you have to check this out.
The audio is the weakest part of The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa, but that is not to say it’s terrible. The music is outstanding to listen to, giving a gangster feel to the game, and I would gladly listen to it outside of the game. The downside is more to do with the sound effects. There is no voice acting, just text, which gives it a ’90s feel. It is more the fighting and other sound effects, which get across what is happening but are not so detailed and very repetitive. Again, I like the audio, and the music is outstanding.
Visuals & Performance
I love the visuals in this game; it fits the look and feel of Japanese delinquents perfectly. Even though the game takes a pixel art 16-bit style for the characters, they are detailed enough to see them talking or the smoke from the cigarette. The background is even more highly detailed with shops, pubs, school buildings, and this wonderfully-rendered grassy area. I want to go to the grassy area and relax, the game is so beautifully presented.
No problems in the slightest with performance, both in handheld and docked modes. It runs smooth like the lacquer though the slicked-back hair of the delinquents.
At the low price of $14.99 USD or £13.39 GBP, The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa is a great value purchase. The sheer amount to do, how well the fights play out, and the story progression are all wonderful. I feel this is the right price.
Loads to do
Natural story progression
Can be confusing to start with
Time management is a must