My Friend Pedro (Switch) Review
Release Date: June 20, 2019
Publisher/Developer: Devolver Digital/Dead Toast
Platform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC
As you awaken in the basement of a meat packing facility, you fear you may be scheduled to be next to go through the grinder. Without any memory, you sneak your way up out of the basement. One of the butcher’s lackeys sees you and you have no choice but to take him out. The banana in your head suddenly says “Huh. Well, I guess you’ll just have to kill them all now.”
Thus begins the insanity that is My Friend Pedro, where our nameless protagonist wishes to escape to freedom and take out those who get in his way at the behest of an imaginary sentient banana. Based on an old Flash game from Adult Swim, My Friend Pedro has been reimagined into a fully fledged bullet ballet. The core idea of the game comes from the original, but the unique additions make Pedro stand on his own (Does he stand? It’s more of a float.) to be a bizarre indie title that takes you on a thrill ride through the seedy underbelly of the city.
Pedro’s story is paper thin, and to be honest any further description than what you’ve already heard will simply hurt the big plot twists, but it’s all an excuse for maximum carnage. It feels like a modern-era take on another awesome game, Mark of the Ninja, except instead of slicing and dicing and practicing the ways of the ninja, you’re ticking off a checklist of every single action movie trope you can think of. Flying through panes of glass in bullet-time slow-mo and aiming full clips of uzis, one in each hand, at several different enemies at once, spin-dodging incoming fire, and ricocheting bullets off of a frying pan into enemies around the corner are average fare for Pedro and his gun-wielding compatriot. Blasting through levels with speed and finesse will increase your score, and kill streaks up your multipliers. There are only 40 levels to go through that take 5-10 minutes apiece max, but the leaderboards provide replay value as you push to see how large a kill count you can rack up in the shortest time possible.
Gamers who are aware of the Flash beginnings of My Friend Pedro can look forward to several improvements. Bullet time has a healthy but finite meter, meaning you can’t just spam it at any time. The health bar is regenerative, but will only go up so far if you’ve taken damage beyond certain points as opposed to the original where the hero had a giant health bar that many gamers felt made the game too easy with the combined infinite bullet time. Where the game improves the most is the lock-on system. Holding one button allows you to lock on to an enemy and continue aiming and shooting at another. This allows you to bullet-time into a room with finesse and rack up those multipliers. At the end of a level you get to see a clip of your best kill of the round.
My favorite part of My Friend Pedro was the environmental pieces. Everything felt natural and I was awarded for experimentation. Bullets reflect off of signs, cranes, and other objects (including the frying pan you threw up the elevator shaft) and seem to magnetize right into your enemies. It’s a bit corny that it lines up so perfectly, but it fits the action-movie genre and makes tropes fun. There are mild puzzle elements involved, such as lining up platforms just right. Dying usually only takes you back an enemy or two, though I had a couple instances where it put me way back before a particularly hard room that I had finally cleared only to be taken out by a generic mook a few seconds later. I loved experimenting. When I figured out I could ride a barrel down a flight of stairs to steamroll the enemies, I was laughing euphorically.
The game is broken up with a few riding levels, such as a motorbike or a skateboard. These levels where you feel a constant forward momentum add some variety to the otherwise samey levels. As you progress you come across new enemies and environments, but it does boil down to “press through the level and kill anything that moves.”
My Friend Pedro is a fun ride that hearkens back to simpler times where plots were paper thin and all that mattered was the high score. What story is there is fun, just minimal. And while the action is pretty uniform throughout, the new additions such as dual-aiming gunplay and a leaderboard are what will keep you coming back for more. My Friend Pedro is a bloody-good time, and you’d be bananas to miss it.
-Dual wielding slow motion bullet ballet
-Dry sense of humor though the basic storyline
-Leaderboards bring you back for more
-Sense of award and accomplishment for experimenting
-Overall, samey levels throughout
-I would have preferred a bit more world building, as the story is rather simplistic
Special thanks to Devolver Digital and Dead Toast in a unique way: Instead of obtaining a code for review, I actually was given it in the middle of a contest (theoretically supported by them in some way) by a strange third-party person I don’t really know much about….was that you, Pedro?…..what do you want me to do?…...are you sure?…...