The conceptual idea of The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa is a masterpiece, but the actual game doesn’t do it justice. The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa has you play as a yakuza-delinquent, Ringo Ishikawa, as he tries to finish his final term of High School.

There is a “town” to explore, that shouldn’t even be considered a town due to its small size. Still, there are various tasks to do in the town whether it be school, studying at home, eating food, playing mini-games (ping-pong, billiards, video poker, etc.), and smoking.

This game has a strong, meaningful dialogue about a yakuza-teen growing up. The dialogue makes you feel as if you’re experiencing it. Aside from the meaningful dialogue, the game is primarily an open world beat ‘em up, but with school-simulation elements.

Unlike the dialogue, 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.

You might be saying to yourself: “This is not a beat ‘em up, it sounds a lot like Grand Theft Auto.” Well, you are not completely wrong… This does play like a beat ‘em up, but if you are looking for anything remotely similar to other beat ‘em up games, you will be disappointed.

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. If you are looking for a unique beat ‘em up, and are willing to manage its user experience issues, then this is a perfect game for you.

The best bet is waiting for a sale, or until the developers/publishers confirm post-launch support for this game going forward.