My Friend Pedro is a run n’ gun action platformer with precision-based physics and the ability to slow down time, allowing for some creative manoeuvring and high octane gun violence. Uncover the secrets of your mysterious kidnapping by using everything around you at your disposal, all with the help of Pedro, a sentient floating banana.
My Friend Pedro is full of nonstop action-packed fun, with enemies and new challenge at every corner. There’s nothing more satisfying than performing some flips in slow motion and taking down an enemy or two. If you have a few enemies on either side of you, you’re able to utilise both guns and split fire, targeting two targets at once. This felt a little awkward at first but with enough practice, it becomes very effective.
The physics, especially in slow motion, gives you enough time and manoeuvrability to do almost anything. It gives you great control and allows you to skilfully plan out your attack.
Boss fights mix up the gameplay in fun and interesting ways that helps to level up the flow of the game. Proceeding from one platforming world to another could have grown tiresome, and it admittedly does at times, so these levels come as a nice change of pace.
At the end of each level, your progress is tracked and you are given a grade on your progress. Whilst this is not exactly a revolutionary feature by any means, it helps to create some replayability in the game, spurring you on to achieve a better grade.
As the game progresses, you get to be a lot more creative with your kills. Ricochetting bullets off of frying pans, riding in on a skateboard and mowing down your enemies with a shotgun and also, kicking enemy body parts at others. This certainly isn’t a game for kids, but dang is it fun for us adults.
The only negative that I can really point out with the gameplay is that in some of the more platforming focussed levels, with your character feeling as floaty as it does, it becomes difficult and frustrating to pinpoint your manoeuvres, resulting in repeated deaths. That being said, the game does a great job on the amount of checkpoints in each level so that when you die, you can immediately pick up from where you left off.
The HD Rumble in My Friend Pedro makes for some nice tactical feedback. Unlike regular rumble, this game uses it in the slightest of ways that may not stand out to great lengths, but does so in a way that would be noticeable if it was taken out. This can especially be said with the difference in rumble when shooting in slow motion compared to normal time – that attention to detail just makes the experience that much more engaging and intuitive.
The levels are quick and short, which is perfect for the Nintendo Switch. You can generally complete a level within 3-5 minutes (if you’re good enough), but they’re rarely straightforward and simple.
Each level requires you to utilise every ability in your arsenal. There are many moments where you may feel like the odds are stacked too much against your favour, but the design of each level is meticulously done so in a way that makes it doable if you use the features of the level at your disposal.
The gameplay absolutely takes precedence over the story in My Friend Pedro, but what is there provides great motivation to proceed through the game. It all begins with an air of mystery, regaining consciousness in a basement, only to discover that your captives’ intentions are less than pleasant. This could have easily been enough for the game and whilst it wouldn’t have been anything special, it would have sufficed. However what make’s My Friend Pedro’s story presentation standout is the help of a sentient, quick-witted banana that provides context and tips.
In our interview with Graeme from Devolver Digital at PAX Aus in October 2018, we asked why the protagonist was accompanied by a sentient banana. Apparently Graeme also had this question and he had previously asked Victor, the developer behind My Friend Pedro, why a banana, to which he had responded, “I like bananas”. Playing through the game, this blunt and nonsensical humour translates so well that it adds major points towards its story presentation.
Each chapter mixes up the setting and adjusts the enemies accordingly. The strategy changes accordingly and will often make you chuckle when you find yourself up against the hardcore gamers who dwell in the sewers in their swords and suits of armour. Video game satire within a video game is the best kind of satire.
Graphics / Art Direction
When you think of jumping through back alleys of the streets, the art direction fits perfectly with a lot of grey and dim colours. This dark and dreary colour choice works perfectly in contrast with some of the game’s more vibrant colours for the gun aimer, the blood and of course, Pedro. Allowing these features to stand out with the background colour choices provides a curious mix with its own unique personality.
This grey and dreary art style doesn’t remain consistent throughout the entire game either, with dramatic shifts in art style that comes as a bit of a surprise. Best of all, it is perfectly justified within the context of the plot. When the sudden shift occurs, and you’ll know when it does, it just feels like a fever dream.
Music / Sound Design
The game’s soundtrack is consistently heavy and upbeat to compliment the fast-paced and frantic gameplay. It makes you feel bad for standing still; it always makes you feel like you need to go-go-go. And whilst the music is fast an upbeat, it can unfortunately comes across as generic and uninspiring at times.
Slowing down time is a key feature in this game and the muffled sound effects that comes with makes it seem all the more thrilling. There are also some effective sound effects, liking ricochetting bullets off of frying pans and hearing that satisfying PING!
Final Score: 85%
My Friend Pedro is an easy game to recommend for all fans of nonsensical, fast-paced action. Its unique gameplay, the ability to use what’s around you to your advantage and the variety in certain levels keeps the game a refreshing experience throughout. With its witty humour in a not so pleasant setting, the combination provides an experience unlike many others; top that all off with a quick-witted banana and you have yourself one game unlike any you’ve played before.