My Friend Pedro from Devolver Digital is finally on the Nintendo Switch after appearing elsewhere. But is it any good and was it worth the wait? Yes and yes.
I’ve had a few bananas in my time and while I have enjoyed most of them, I’ve never felt attached enough. I don’t think I would go to war with the mob over a banana. Am I missing out? Bananas are full of potassium, but I’m not too sure if they understand the concept of friendship. Maybe I’m wrong. See, the character you play has done exactly what I’ve mentioned above. All for his chum, Pedro.
The protagonist in My Friend Pedro isn’t the banana, but his human sidekick. No name is given so I’m going to call him Derek. It all begins when Derek is woken by a banana (Pedro) who helps him bust out of his apparent prison. You’ll see in my gameplay video the tutorial for the game. It’s our introduction to Pedro and gets you shooting stuff pretty darn quick.
There’s no holding your hand type tutorial that takes forever and a day – just full-on ‘get on with it’. My Friend Pedro isn’t brand new but for the Switch, it is. The kids on the street will be talking about how (John) Woo like the game is and flirts with Max Payne. But, it’s not about size, it’s how graceful one is and Derek floats like a butterfly, stings like herpes.
When I saw the preview, I was sold and couldn’t wait for it to be released. After the 40th time of watching the trailer, I wondered whether the character felt a bit too light and floaty. It looked like Derek was spinning too much with the gravity-defying jumping going on, but surprisingly, it works quite well. When jumping with using focus, it doesn’t feel so weighty and makes me feel Derek is on inline skates à la Jet Set Radio when jumping from platform to platform. Minor critique over, it’s not as bad as I had thought.
The controls work too. Move left, move right and jump work fine and the added focus mode that slows downtime is great and I overused the feature on every occasion. If you run out of focus (I wonder why…), the dodge function is just as good. Derek does a pirouette of sorts and dodges bullets that way. You can even sneak up close for a kick or peck on the cheek. The last one is a lie.
Going back to that inline skate reference, at times My Friend Pedro is like a Tony Hawk Pro Skater game without the skateboard or like a classic Jackie Chan film – you know, the good ones. There are times where you ollie off a platform only to kick an object into the face of an enemy. It’s a great feeling as it feels spontaneous enough that you’re doing it on the fly and not just cruising through the motions.
Meet John Anderson Payne
There will be references to John Woo, The Matrix, Max Payne… I mentioned two of the above. One comparison I like to refer to is the Netflix series Happy! Ok, so Nick Sax talks and Happy is far less deviant than Pedro. Having an imaginary friend is an interesting concept. Think Ralph Wiggum and his leprechaun friend. Then again who said Pedro isn’t real?
Aside from guns, being able to manoeuver about is vital. One of the set moves is the wall jump. Rather than climb up a ledge like Flashback or old school Prince of Persia, Derek can bounce off walls. It’s like a better version of Ninja Gaiden but not as good as Mark of the Ninja Remastered. The controls handle well, allowing you time to concentrate on shooting the baddies and building your multipliers, similar to Cuphead. This gives you a better chance to rank higher than your nan.
My Friend Pedro is over quite quickly but has plenty of longevity in it. There are multiple difficulty levels and rankings that should keep the average gamer going for a while. A little bit like Serial Cleaner – also over quite quickly but still has the replay factor. I do hope that the developers expand on this banana-human relationship. It could be a new genre to replace the old buddy-buddy cop stories from Hollywood. Surely the gaming world would welcome characters like Samantha and Michelle – the strawberry who works as a trainee lawyer. Or Ron and his cucumber. Maybe we’ll just leave that there. I do smell a franchise though. Either that or it’s me.
No bananas were harmed in the making of this commentary. They were neither eaten or oppressed but ‘someone’ may have drawn faces on their skins to resemble Pedro. My friend.