Right from the beginning, My Friend Pedro lets you know that this game isn't meant to be taken seriously. After all, the main story is about a talking banana that instructs you to kill people on its behalf, which eventually leads you to a confrontation with the Dictator of the Internet. It is a very silly game.
The main selling point of My Friend Pedro is definitely not its story, it's the gameplay. Inspired by films like The Matrix, Shoot 'Em Up, and the early works of John Woo, your nameless masked character leaps around stages shooting everything that moves. You can do crazy flips, dodge bullets by twirling, ride a skateboard, use a frying pan to ricochet bullets into bad guys' faces, and so on. Plus, because this is a game about balletic bullet murder, you can also slow down time to make all the mayhem look pretty.
Everything controls reasonably well, and there's fun to be had in clearing stages in My Friend Pedro. This is meant to be the type of game you where you run through levels over and over again in order to get the highest score. Playing it that way is probably where you'll get the most value out of the game, as the story is incredibly short, and will likely only take you about three or four hours to finish.
There are some issues with the game's controls that hamper the fun of being an insane masked murderer. Jumping felt a little weightier than I was expecting. This is a game that touts itself as a playground for you to fire off rounds of hot lead while bouncing off of walls. Despite that, your character seems kind of heavy rather than light on his feet, which makes the various jumps and dives feel not quite as majestic as they look.
You can also point your guns at two separate enemies so you can shoot two people at one time. This is great in theory, but you accomplish this by using the ZL trigger (or whatever equivalent button on PC) to lock onto one guy, and then manually aim at the other. The problem is that your auto lock won't always lock on to the best choice of enemy, and once you've killed someone, the auto lock doesn't automatically switch to another person. It kind of feels clunky, and in the heat of battle, it can be awkward to use.
The levels and graphics are kind of bland and not very interesting to look at or run around in. A lot of the stages just seem like concrete buildings, filled with dozens of bad guys who all tend to look and act the same after a while. It's possible that this was done to contrast with the more zanier levels, as there are some crazy locations that are bursting with shades of colors like pink and blue. However, you seem to spend way more time in these uninteresting buildings than anywhere else.
In fact, that's kind of the biggest problem with My Friend Pedro as a whole. As mentioned before, the main plot of the game is that a talking banana is convincing you to go on a killing spree. Yet, despite the ridiculousness of that concept, the game plays its story relatively straight.
You would expect a game like this to be wacky and off-the-wall crazy, but you mostly just shoot waves of similar looking bad guys, while the banana spouts off exposition about why you're shooting them. It even has what is ostensibly supposed to be a big emotional twist at the end, and it doesn't really land because this isn't really a game where you're supposed to care about the characters.
A game like this should be hilarious, but most of its humor either falls flat, or tries too hard. One section of the game has you going into a sewer system, and your enemies are "hardcore gamers" who shout things like, "n00b," and, "git gud," at you, which is just a tired and unfunny joke at this point. It tries to inject some fun here and there, having you crash a Christmas party full of bounty hunters, facing off with the Dictator of the Internet, going inside Pedro's world to fend off haters, but once it's established its one gag through a short cutscene, it's back to shooting people in boring, uninspired locations.
Shooting people in games like these is always fun, but after you've learned how to kick basketballs into people's faces, the game doesn't really offer up any new mechanics other than some more powerful guns near the end. This leads to the combat feeling pretty stale after a while.
It does offer up new puzzle mechanics, although calling them puzzles is perhaps a little generous. Most of them just involve shooting levers in order to move platforms for you to continue. They feel less like moments where you need to figure something out, and more like points that are trying to pad out the game.
It's a shame too, because the very last boss fight of the game shows what the game should have been about, as it finally gives into true insanity, and lets you fight something really stupid. That's what the game should have been: a stupid ride that mixed Saturday morning cartoons with extreme violence. Instead, it tries to tell an uninspired revenge story while simultaneously having an imaginary banana talk to you about the Internet.
My Friend Pedro needed to be insane, kooky, and completely irreverent. It tries to go for that, but its levels are dull, and its humor is even duller. In the early levels, it does seem like it's going to be a blast to play, but because of the drab levels, mindless puzzles, and predictable enemies, it can start to become a slog to play towards the end. Considering this is a game that only lasts a few hours, that's not great.
The early levels are quite good, and played purely as a score attack game it definitely gets the blood pumping. It just doesn't do enough to justify the 20 dollars that it's asking for. My Friend Pedro should have been a lot of dumb fun, but in the end, it's just kind of dumb.
2.5 Out Of 5 Stars
A copy of My Friend Pedro was purchased by TheGamer for this review. The game is available now for Nintendo Switch and PC.