My Friend Pedro sunk its hooks into me right from the start thanks to how absurd the premise is. It’s also slick, cool, and extremely fun to play. From the moment I began all the way to the credits I felt pure joy, as the side-scrolling adventure unfolded on my Nintendo Switch.
I’ve seen bits and pieces over the last several months, always making a mental note to check out My Friend Pedro, which is developed by DeadToast Entertainment and published by Devolver Digital. This game stands out right away, thanks to a floating banana named Pedro essentially telling your nameless action star what to do. And honestly, it works out well the way it is with most of the focus left to the gameplay, a mix of bullet-time and Hollywood-inspired shootouts. It’s like Max Payne had a baby with Contra and boy is it excellent.
Stylish and sublime, My Friend Pedro focuses on what’s important: making sure every enemy that you kill adds towards your style meter, which builds and tallies at the end of each level. Utilizing split-aim and several different weapons, you take on dozens of enemies out to kill your character. Pressing the Left Stick enters focus mode, slowing down time and allowing you to take on droves of enemies while pirouetting through them. It’s chaotic beauty and fits the game so perfectly, it’s a match made in heaven.
After each level, you are awarded a score from C, B, A, or S. The incentive is try again and nail a better rating through a series of kicks, flips, wall jumps to nail the perfect ending to the stage. One level you’re crashing through a building annihilating every goon in your way with dual pistols and a panache for kicks, the next you’re pirouetting through bullets, engaging focus to slow time down, and finishing with a frying pan.
While this sounds like it’s hard to follow in the action from moment to moment, it’s not. Learning how to keep your momentum going is part of the experience and worth coming back to when you finish a level. Got a C for Carrot? Try again and work your way to an S for Super. The action is hot, hot, hot! It’s all about letting your creativity flowing and stringing your kicks to kills and so on.
I Peel It In My Bones
So, what’s the game about? Well, the narrative starts off with the nameless protagonist waking up in a basement, where Pedro, the talking banana guides the protagonist through several chapters in which mayhem is the focus. The story is only there to push forward the set pieces of each level, and do not affect the gameplay. In fact, it’s more about learning to maneuver through the level and how to get from point A to B to C while ensuring your combo never stops.
Puzzles play a part of the game, you might have to stand on a weighted platform to get a door to open, then use that to kill one goon before using slow motion to get past an obstacle. Where the challenge lies are solving how to get past the enemies in front of you while not dying and overcoming the puzzle in place. And while the puzzles aren’t difficult it’s figuring out how to get to the end of the level that proves challenging.
As for the visuals, they are excellent on the Nintendo Switch. Coming across as grimy and hazy, the aesthetic is a huge plus. Paired with a soundtrack so well suited to the My Friend Pedro, the dubstep and hardcore carrying you to the end pulsates through your body. Also, of note is the Performance on Switch is impressive but doesn’t put the console to work, graphically speaking. Handheld mode is exceptional, as well and shows no signs of slowdown and plays best when paired with a Pro Controller, due to the twitch mechanics you’ll use to play the game.
My Friend Pedro succeeds because of how well the various mechanics work in conjuncture to deliver a heart-racing, engaging, and solid video game. It’s over-the-top and a short ride but one you’ll be thankful you took for yourself. It’s hard to find another game like this on the market right now and quite honestly, a floating banana telling you what to do is going to be hard to beat. Devolver Digital is on a roll with their growing library and prove that not everything needs to be so high and dry like bigger AAA games in the market.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]