My Friend Pedro Switch Review — Action-packed, Bananas, but Cumbersome

My Friend Pedro is a wild ride full of high-octane action, but the game's balletic bullet catharsis is marred by the cumbersome controls and lack of clear direction.

Dropped into a dangerous world of crime with no name, no explanation, and a sentient floating banana to keep you company, My Friend Pedro opens with far more questions than answers. It won’t get much more logical from there, though, with you flipping and rotating through the air while gunning down baddies at an alarming rate.

My Friend Pedro is less about the story and all about the high-octane action. It combines Max Payne bullet time with John Woo gun fu and flips straight out of a gymnast’s locker.

The game is split into a handful of chapters, each with eight or so levels. Each chapter begins to feel a little repetitive by the end, but they do evolve to include some clever puzzle elements later on. Still, it was hard to shake the feeling that I was repeating the same thing level after level for much of the game.

There’s also a scoring system that ranks you on your time, overall score, difficulty, and number of deaths. Combined with the 2.5D perspective, this gives My Friend Pedro a vibe reminiscent of the Trials motocross series, only without the same dynamic variation in level design.

As a direct result, the levels never really capture the same addictive "one more go" quality that the Trials series achieves, but there are leaderboards to track your times against the rest of the world for the hardcore scorechasers.

The controls are clearly designed for keyboard and mouse, too; to call the default layout "cumbersome" on the Nintendo Switch would be an understatement. Although these can be remapped in the settings menu — which alleviates some degree of burden — it never really felt natural in any layout I could find.

On the one hand, some degree of difficulty should be expected when you're making a protagonist perform a gold medal-winning gymnastics routine while dispatching enemies with a John Wick-level of accuracy and flair. My Friend Pedro never really makes this difficulty feel rewarding, however.

The gunplay is solid, albeit a little repetitive thanks to the lack of available options, though you can also kick objects at enemies. Whether it's a knife or a skateboard, propelling something into a bad guy to kick-start a fight in slow motion never gets old. 

The gameplay doesn't feel as fluid as you'd hope, though, with a score multiplier that encourages rushing through the levels and controls that would suit an octopus. It struggles to find a balance between rewarding showmanship and encouraging score-chasing, with the most effective method devolving into a Contra-style run-and-gun affair that strips the heart from this title.

My Friend Pedro is honestly best played with a total disregard for the score, taking time to plan and execute extravagant ballets of death with each new encounter. The meter for your bullet time effect is constantly refilling, which helps to facilitate this, and it's in those moments that the game really comes alive.

Aside from feeling fantastic, it also looks incredible when the slow-motion effect kicks in and bullets are flying in all directions; a glorious spectacle of flips, spins, and carnage. My Friend Pedro generally looks impressive on the Switch, maintaining high-quality textures and performance from the PC version.

The only real caveat to this is the explosions, which look almost comically low-grade on the Switch's hardware. My Friend Pedro has released simultaneously on both systems for the same price, however, so the portable aspect of the Switch version can’t be underestimated.

Pros 

  • Glorious slow-motion action that looks and feels amazing
  • Provides a good challenge, with scores to beat and multiple difficulties
  • Levels are short, perfect for short interval gameplay

Cons

  • Clunky controls get in the way more than anything
  • Lacks significant variety in levels and weapons

My Friend Pedro ultimately disappointed me. It's fantastic to look at, and I love all things acrobatics, but it fails to condense the flips and twists into an intuitive control scheme — at least on Nintendo Switch. The platforming didn't feel as engaging as I'd hoped, but the gameplay is saved by the spectacular slow-motion effects. 

It's a fairly short title that can be completed in around four hours, but its overall value will depend on whether you're enticed to chase better scores. For me, this adventure was absolutely bananas, but it lacked significant long-term a-peel

[Note: A copy of My Friend Pedro was provided by Devolver Digital for the purpose of this review.]

Our Rating
7
My Friend Pedro is a wild ride full of high-octane action, but the game's balletic bullet catharsis is marred by the cumbersome controls and lack of clear direction.
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

Contributor

Jonny enjoys strategy games, looter shooters, and long walks on the beach. Good at breaking down games... some would say too good. He doesn't know where the off switch is for his critical brain and is regularly scolded for winning family game nights by exploiting flawed rules.

Published Jun. 21st 2019

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