My Friend Pedro is an unashamedly Devolver development. A 2D shooter, it takes a seemingly simple idea and brings a uniquely oddball mix of physics platforming and murder to PC and Nintendo Switch today.
Blood, Bullets, and Bananas
I first got to unpeel My Friend Pedro back at EGX Rezzed 2019 and to say I’ve been eagerly anticipating the return of this yellow sidekick to my screen is an understatement. Pedro is the game’s titular banana, a talking fruit that inhabits the ramblings of the game’s protagonist. Waking from a seemingly unsolicited slumber, the game’s masked protagonist wakes to find themselves confined and hallucinating. Talking fruit is, unfortunately, the worst of your worries. In order to escape, you’ll need to blast, bash, and flip your way through a myriad of opponents all out to gun you down.
Initially presenting as a 2D platformer, My Friend Pedro quickly establishes itself as a run and gun experience, introducing players to the basics of both. In order to move through the upcoming maze of masked thugs, players are able to achieve some quite astounding athletic feats, jumping off walls, performing flips, and pirouetting past bullets. This is complemented by a bullet time system that slows down the action to a snail’s pace, allowing for precision targetting.
This stylish carnage seems easy enough at first. The initial tutorial sets the entire tone of this title, culminating in an acrobatic shootout against grandma’s pottery in Pedro’s imaginary attic. Yet, despite the silly start, its obvious things are about to become a bloody messy the minute the first pistol is locked and loaded. Gunning down enemies in My Friend Pedro is intuitive enough. Players vault across levels using an analog control stick and some well-placed action buttons. Our masked assassin’s deadly hair trigger is manipulated using the remaining analog stick and death comes to enemies with a simple slip of the finger.
Fruit and Nuts
For the first few minutes of Devolver’s appropriately bloody fruit based murder device, everything seems peachy. My Friend Pedro is like a gorgeous love letter to every gun fu movie Kenaue ever made, then things escalate quickly. Between the gorgeous explosions and the impressive acrobatics, targets need to be adequately assessed as they start to appear in droves. Using two independent hair triggers and cool looking kickflips all become desperate flailing survival strategies. Rather than a friendly stroll of destruction, My friend Pedro quickly becomes a chaotic haze of blood and bullets.
Deadtoast manages this mix of controlled chaos through some incredibly intelligent level design. Deadtoast constructs almost every area of My Friend Pedro as a series of contained encounters. Running through office blacks and abandoned warehouses, Pedro and co come up against closed doors and new unexplored stairwells where a range of guards mill around waiting for trouble. It’s like a well-prepared movie set piece. These staged attacks add a nice element of strategy to the game’s visceral moments. Before bursting into action, all guns blazing, it allows players to devise an approach to a particular scenario.
When it’s go time, the game’s protagonist can jump in, shooting, dodging, and ricocheting shots around a room to bring some style to the action. This movement in confined spaces is one of the utter joys of My Friend Pedro. Straight lines are all very well and good but Pedro’s fleshy compatriot is capable of far more than simply running and gunning. Launching from walls, flipping over obstacles, or dodging incoming flak allows attacking players to cut through the air, stylishly dispatching lead over flummoxed enemies. Split targeting controls allow players to take on more than one enemy at a time and helps separate the mindless grunt from the seasoned assassin. This turns the game’s masked assassin into a whirling ballet of death, dishing out backhanded shotgun shells and even fly kicking decapitated parts across the room. This fast-paced combat rarely fails to impress and never gets old, mostly thanks to a steady influx of new mechanics.
Zip wires, motorbikes pursuits, and even skateboarding challenges all keep the joy of movement fresh and Navie D’s pounding electric bass and synthetic tunes drive players through the action. Tracks like Cave Crawl and Neural Scrub act like a metronome of carnage pushing players to dole out death with an arsenal of deeply satisfying weapons. Shotguns, Uzis, and pistols are included and dual wielding provides an extra element of skill to proceedings. The selection of available weapons and a limited ammo supply even adds just a tiny bit more thoughtful play to each of the encounters.
These encounters are, however, not backed up by much of a narrative and why would they be. The story behind this manic murder scene is about as flimsy as any 90s action movie and exactly what we would come to expect from a Devolver title. It is knowingly kitsch, relying on the gameplay to drag you through. That is the part of the cathartic fun of My Friend Pedro. Somehow Deadtoast has managed to embody the same beautiful violence that makes movies like the Raid or Joh Wick such an utter joy to watch and they are clearly fully aware of this. Make it all the way through the minutes that make up each level and you will find yourself staring at a scoreboard and it isn’t just about kill count. The game actively rewards stylish takedowns and long-running killstreaks. My Friend Pedro isn’t just about executing your enemies, it’s about doing it with all the flair that you can muster.
That is the reason to play My Friend Pedro in a nutshell, although bananas don’t have shells. My Friend Pedro is beautiful violence. Just like Doom, it takes a simple idea and builds an unrelenting pace. It is an unyielding and remarkable display of carnage that will keep any assassin’s finger twitching. Never before have I rolled across a skateboard ramp, performing a kickflip while talking to a banana and shooting two mobsters in the face with Uzis. Get this game, get it now!. If you are interested in taking on this assignment, My Friend Pedro is out now on PC and Nintendo Switch.