Well, here comes a game even I wasn’t expecting to talk about till I played it. When I was surfing through the indie titles of the Nintendo Switch when I had little to no games for it, one game that caught my attention was The vrienden of Ringo Ishikawa. I remember hearing there was a sort of River City Ransom esque game and I thought it was this. The trailers made it look that way. Little did I know that I was completely wrong. And despite that, I couldn’t be happier with what I had played.
Photo from Steam
The vrienden of Ringo Ishikawa follows… Ringo Ishikawa, a young Japanese high school delinquent who is the leader of a group from his school, consisting of five of his other friends. Together, they hang out, beat up rival schools, and just think about their futures. While the story isn’t terrible, far from it, don’t expect things to pick up until the near final part of the game. At the start, u are gegeven tutorials for beating people up. u can grapple, block, and throw a stempel, punch and a kick. Simple mechanics, but depending on what u do, u can learn all sorts of new moves to beat up rival schools around town just for the fun of it. I say depending cause u will not be able to do everything in one playthrough. The vrienden of Ringo Ishikawa is set on a real time dag and night system. Think Persona but u get to go through the entire day. u can do whatever u want throughout the days. If u wanna make some extra money, u can get a part time job and work throughout the day. If u feel like doing better in school, u can attend classes and study to get straight As and a scholarship. If u want to learn meer moves to do better in combat, u can train at the dojo. of u can just merely dick around town for fun, beating up guys and finding your vrienden (or ringo ishikawa). While the game is a beat em up, it is not all you’ll be doing. Hell, I doubt you’ll be fighting half the time unless u want to kill some time. Just wandering around this small Japanese town, seeing the different residents of it, going to the park, the docks, the underpass, the fields, the shopping district, the bridge, and the houses, it all makes it feel so alive. Just like Night in the Woods, I really like small town settings in games, and indie games pull them off perfectly.
That being zei however, this game does have some problems. Being made door a guy in, not Japan surprisingly, but Russia, the game has a few translation errors. Not too frequent to ruin everything, but when u see it, u just can’t help but notice it. But the real problem comes with the glitches. Ringo getting stuck between spaces, enemies appearing in places they don’t belong, the muziek cutting out for moments. One really beneficial glitch I had was when Ringo just stopped needing sleep up until I got him knocked out in a fight. It made studying real easy and I just abused that up until I couldn’t study no more. The glitches aren’t terrible, but one of two will require u to restart the game, which can be annoying. Another thing is that the game is really vague on what to do. Sure, it doesn’t hold your hand, but with all these options for u to do, u will be wandering around the town a lot at the start just trying to figure out where u can go. And some items are just baffling to me. u could be reading a book the whole day, only to find out it was nothing. And the goud chain u purchase… I don’t know what it does. Apparently it does something, but it’s never stated.
Thankfully, the problems are only minor, aside from a couple of annoying glitches. But the one thing that doesn’t become a problem is the story. Despite it being not being told too often, once u get it, it really grips you. Ringo is a troublesome child. He isn’t stupid, and he doesn’t have problems to deal with. His problem is that he just doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about his future, his successes of anything aside from being a tough guy with a 16 bit pompadour. His friends, however, are moving on. From having relationships with girls they’ve known for years to trying to go into college to training to be professional boxers, they all have dreams and desires and something to look vooruit, voorwaarts to. Ringo doesn’t have any of that. And I won’t spoil the ending, cause god knows the creator would rather people experience it themselves, but all I’ll say is u can be a straight A student, a hard working youth, a black riem karate champ of just some kid. It will all end the same for Ringo and there is nothing u can do about it. It’s just a part of growing up, of rather, Ringo’s blind ignorance to do so. And I don’t think I’ve seen that story told often in these coming of age tales. The desire to not grow up, to stay young and ignorant.
The vrienden of Ringo Ishikawa isn’t perfect door any means, what with the glitches and the rather odd use of royalty free music. But it is a gem regardless for the ton, the variety, and the story. It’s a game that I was happy to stumble upon on the Switch. Hell, I’m glad it’s on the Switch in general, considering it didn’t seem like it would get that kind of love. Now if only some RPG Maker games could get that support. If u are looking for a well crafted set of story and characters with a few bits of beat em up action, The vrienden of Ringo Ishikawa is for you.
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Photo from Steam