If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if Spider-Man shot bullets instead of webs, then look no further than My Friend Pedro, a game about man, his guns, and his floating banana friend.
You take on the mantle of what has to be, the most potent killer of all time in My Friend Pedro, capable of slowing time, doing sick aerial stunts, riding motorcycles and using frying pans to overcome any and every threat. If that sounds cool, it’s because it is. My Friend Pedro arms you with not only the appropriate weaponry for dispatching your foes, but also puts you in situations where you’re encouraged to do more than just shoot everyone in sight.
Each level is broken up into rooms that more or less serve as tutorials for what’s to come. Say you’re dropping into a room with an enemy on either side of you at the bottom of it, that’s My Friend Pedro‘s way of telling you that you should consider splitting your aim to simultaneously obliterate both of them. Is that a frying pan in a room surrounded on all sides by bad guys? Just pump some bullets into it, and watch the ricochet take care of the rest. When things click in My Friend Pedro, it can lead to some of the most satisfying moments in video games.
But sometimes My Friend Pedro wants to fight with you and make things as convoluted as possible, requiring you to turn your hands into spiders capable of hitting all the right buttons at once. The default control scheme isn’t great, and often leads to your character coming out of slow motion at the wrong time, falling into a pit, or just getting shot in the dome. Every ounce of satisfaction you might feel, is prefaced by about nine moments of you sloppily fumbling through enemies and barely getting out alive.
You can press the left bumper to basically become invincible and dodge bullets by spinning around like you’re John Woo, but because of the default button placement along with some weird animation priority when you’re coming out of the spin, made it one of the least used moves in my arsenal. That is until the game would literally stop time as the final bullet that would kill me was rushing in my direction. That’s when My Friend Pedro will literally tell you that it’s time to dodge.
Oddly enough, for a side scrolling game, the camera sometimes serves as another obstacle. Often times the levels are just individual rooms of varying complexity, that are designed for you to conquer and move on to the next one. But that isn’t always the case, and these little shooting gallery puzzle rooms stretch out farther than the camera cares to show. The camera is zoomed in fairly close, which helps you navigate tight corridors more effectively and also see the dope shit you’re doing. But when you can’t see the wall of dudes with shotguns just on the other side of the room, and their flurry of bullets just keeps peppering you before you even know they’re there, it can be supremely frustrating.
But all of those grievances go away when you flawlessly erase a room without even getting touched. Every instance that I thought that maybe it was time to take a break, I’d do something outrageous, like skateboard through a window while doing a back flip, shooting two Uzis in separate directions. Or kicking a frying pan into the air, unloading ammo into it and watching one bullet hit an explosive next to a cluster of enemies. My Friend Pedro constantly puts you in situations where you could pull off awesome things, if you can manage to wrap your head around the controls long enough.
The biggest missteps My Friend Pedro takes are twofold though. Firstly, there’s a score they give you at the end of each level, ranking you from C to S ranks. Things like time and enemies killed are listed, but there’s literally no indication of what I could be doing better to obtain better rankings. I’m assuming the answer is just, “do cooler shit,” but some direction on that front couldn’t hurt.
Additionally, My Friend Pedro misses what might be my favorite feature of games like this, particularly Katana Zero, which is the ability to watch a full speed replay of the room or level you just went through. For all the slow motion coolness I pull off, I’d love to have seen what that looked like. It isn’t a deal breaker or anything, it just feels like a missed opportunity. They do cherry pick a moment from the level you can just export into a GIF which is nice, but you have no say in what moment it is.
All things considered, I enjoyed my time with My Friend Pedro. It was a short and sweet game that let me live out my wildest action movie dreams, albeit not as nimbly as I would have hoped for. There’s a lot less of me falling into holes and getting shot in the face in my imagination. But if you can deal with some often times floaty and loose controls, and really want to do some cool Matrix moves in a modern video game, My Friend Pedro is a pretty good compromise.
My Friend Pedro is currently available on Steam and the Nintendo Switch. This review is based off of the Steam version.