Some games focus on either style or substance. Devolver Digital and Deadtoast Entertainment’s My Friend Pedro exudes both in a riveting display of blood, bullets, and bananas. Despite being a 2D-platformer, the game is packed with cinematic action, thanks to slow-motion effects and an agile, masked gunman. It’s basically The Matrix meets Deadpool, except the protagonist remains silent while his friend Pedro, a sentient banana, makes all the wisecracks. The potassium-rich accomplice also orders our hero to take out everyone in his path, which, aside from some twists, comprises the strange story.
My Friend Pedro uses twin-stick dual-wielding for its run-and-gun gameplay. As your character runs through enemy-infested rooms via the left control stick, you aim his shots with the right stick. An extended line of sight reticule completely projects his bullet trajectory, so aiming is rarely an issue. When you add a second gun into the mix, you can lock onto one opponent, while aiming at another and firing at both foes simultaneously. It takes a bit of practice to grasp the controls, which are customizable. The weapon wheel is also somewhat confusing, as it’s hard to identify and select from the handful of firearms. However, it eventually became second nature to navigate the interface and achieve multikills.
What really gives My Friend Pedro its unique identity and flow is the focus mechanic, which slows the game down to a bullet-time crawl. In this decelerated state, your controls aren’t slowed down, so it’s much easier to dodge and aim at enemies from all sides at once. Consequently, every shot, jump, backflip, and spin look undeniably more stylish in slow-motion. Although the graphics look relatively simple and dated, I was consistently impressed by my character’s violent gymnastics. The persistent electronic beat contributes to the music video-like presentation. With fluctuating tempo that matches the game speed, the soundtrack feels like an inseparable part of the cinematic bloodshed.
The 2D camera angle presents an overview of every upcoming room and enemy configuration, which allowed me to plan out my attack strategy in Batman-style. I found it particularly fulfilling to make dramatic entrances, two guns in hand, flipping all over the place with grace and elegance. The stages are designed like deadly playgrounds, incorporating elements like skateboards for whizzing past enemies, ziplines so you can surprise fire at everyone on your way down, and trampolines for bounce kills in one of the trippiest worlds. Some areas emphasize switch puzzles and physics-based platforming, which is always a good combo for me. My favorite levels ramped up gameplay by introducing motorcycles and hardcore boss fights. I do wish that the slow-motion was incorporated more liberally. In general, you don’t need to use the focus mode to get past most obstacles, though that didn’t stop me from constantly activating it.
Style isn’t just for show; you get swag points for consecutive and noteworthy kills. Whether executing attacks while wall jumping or achieving multihits midair, you can rack up a high score with multipliers. At the end of every level, you are ranked, and the game highlights the best moment of your run. It’s an experience designed to be shared, and the developer encourages replays through its online leaderboard. You kind of have to play with a score attack mindset, as the game only has a few worlds for an approximate five hour playtime. There is no multiplayer, but harder difficulty settings offer true tests of your reaction time.
My Friend Pedro is an action movie compressed into a 2D-sidescroller, complete with an oddball premise, unlikely heroes, and bullet-time cinematics. It manages to be both a fast run-and-gun à la Contra as well as a slow, thoughtful platformer like Metroid. The game isn’t pushing any visual limits, but on the plus side, it performs fine on the Nintendo Switch’s tablet mode. My Friend Pedro may be short, but it’s an explosive, wild ride that is rarely boring and always bananas.
I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!