Top Critic Average
While not perfect by any means, The friends of Ringo Ishikawa is an excellent visual and storytelling piece thats journey – and conclusion – might very well stick with you for a long time to come.
I was honestly very frustrated during my first couple hours, but gradually I started to appreciate the slow burn that is The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa. Without question, it will not appeal to everyone, and the lack of tutorials, hints, and information is definitely frustrating. All that said, though, it’s a unique and interesting experiment wrapped up in a cool, pixelated graphical style and an atmospheric soundtrack that suits the game perfectly.
Screenshots really don't do The friends of Ringo Ishikawa justice. What looks like a traditional side-scrolling brawler is actually something far more intricate. It's more of a teenage simulator than anything, and with some really well-written dialogue (filled with the kind of malaise and sense of directionless rebellion we all experienced in our formative years) there's a really interesting story to be found. Its everyday activities will remind you more of Bully or Shenmue than Street Gangs/River City Ransom, just don't expect to have your hand held as you head out into the world to discover them.
While the concept of an open world beat 'em up set in high-school sounds interesting, the way it was executed is far from perfect. Furthermore, the entire world feels meaningless, as there is no way to easily tell what time your classes begin, and where they are. It is also difficult to know where each building is in the world because The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa lacks a map/compass feature. If you are looking for a unique beat 'em up, and are willing to manage it's user experience issues, then this is a perfect game for you.
The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa is quite weak in its pure playful proposal but has a real personality that could well embark you, if you are sensitive to this typical Japanese atmosphere carried by hip hop melodies and retro graphics successful in this small city, free to live the existence often in slow motion of a rascal high school and his friends. In this, again, the fact of being able to play in a nomadic way with the Switch is a plus.
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