The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa
The friend of Ringo Ishikawa is a slow moving quiet game that I fell in love with. My boyfriend calls it pixel Yakuza. That’s not totally off, but it doesn’t quite do it justice. There are none of the jokes of a yakuza game. But there are impactful moments and messages, it feels more like a novel than other games.
The Friends of Ringo Ishikwa starts with you on a train and you’re fighting a bunch of dudes, and eventually you get knocked out and you wake up in your home. Then your teacher calls you into their classroom and tells you to straighten up your act, and that you’re a good kid. The game doesn’t tell you anything. It doesn’t tell you that you can get a scholarship or how to get a job, you are just unleashed on the world. I love this. I missed things, and there were things I didn’t catch until late in the game. But that’s okay, that’s how things are sometimes.
The soundtrack is great, and is used wonderfully. It adds a sense of maturity to the game. It makes it feel like high school. My favorite track is called Mr. Boogers and is played in a Macdonalds like area where I bought most of my food. There are other great tracks, but that one in particular has become the song I’m listening to consistently. I wish the special edition had a soundtrack, cause then I’d pay a pretty penny.
My favorite part of the game is having your character read books. There are about a dozen books you can buy, each classic literature. Then you can go to the library and read self help books. I Didn’t discover the library until late in the game. One of the books in the library will give you speed reading so you can read many more books. I read all the books in the game on my first playthrough.
You have to make money so that you can buy something to eat. I got a job at a video store, which meant that I was skipping class. I didn’t realize that you could get a scholarship on the first floor by talking to a teacher, until late in the game. So I just worked at the movie store, which only really paid just enough for me to have enough to eat.
When the game ended, and it had a great ending, I was sad. Not just because of the actual ending, which was perfect, but because I had just saved up enough to buy a tv and vhs combo. I had been working towards this for the entire game, and I had finally reached the mark.
Everything in the game did such a great job at making you role play as Ringo. There are small details like how you can light up a cigarette, which is small, but has great animation and says so much about Ringo’s personality. Everything you can make Ringo do, how he does it, says so much about him. How he slumps at his job at the video store, how he seems detached but chill about his friend’s theatre performance, the jokes his friends make to him. Ringo is a good kid, but he’s in a place that makes it hard for him to see a way out.