Wielding dual pistols and jumping into the air in slow-motion, or bullet-time, is a thing of action movie legend. Almost literally as it’s the sort of badass move we associate with the 1990s and the era that brought us Hong Kong action movies, the Matrix, videogames like Max Payne and that underrated John Woo joint Stranglehold. My Friend Pedro, as fun and energetic as its masked assassin and giant talking banana protagonist comb might be, at its core is a throwback to mechanics born from this stylish blend of guns, bullets, and physics.
With a relatively short runtime, the focus here isn’t placed on completing each level or even tracking down a big bad – but in doing all of that in style. To look good. To rack up points. To make a somewhat respectable dent on a leaderboard, or to simply be given the option to export a cool as hell gif you can then share on social media. A nice end of level feature included in My Friend Pedro.
With the ability to slow down time, aim two guns at two different enemies, dodge incoming bullets via a balletic spin, wall-jump, flip, and even ride a skateboard down a ramp whilst firing an automatic rifle – combat in My Friend Pedro offers up a visual treat of action movie style. In a presentation that feels like one-part John Wick and another Adult Swim. One of the coolest and most outlandish mechanics is using metallic object to bounce bullets around like beams of light – frying pan included. The story is often absurd, at one point you enter the head if such a thing were to exist, of your yellow companion Pedro. In a subsequent trip to that action-game location we all know as The Sewers you face off against a new and deadly opponent; the hardcore gamer.
"Combat in My Friend Pedro offers up a visual treat of action movie style."
What gives My Friend Pedro its appeal, whilst also serving as a detriment to a sizable chunk of the experience, is the somewhat purposely janky nature of the physics underneath it all. Weirdly, it reminds us of an old freeware game called X-Moto – where unrealistic speed and floaty controls created a unique physics ruleset. But one with incredible depth. My Friend Pedro shines when you’re given all the tools, weapons, and enemies to play with – and then create a spectacular display of kill. And speaking of weapons, the usual line-up of pistols, shotguns, automatic rifles, and sniper rifles make an appearance – and they all feel great. And when introduced, succeed in creating excitement in just how cool they’ll make you look when your channelling your inner action hero.
Where My Friend Pedro falters, or feels too imprecise, are with the pure platforming sections where you need to time jumps, hit switches, move platforms, open grates, and so on. This means some of the levels are better than others depending on which of the two things they focus on – platforming or straight up shooting at people. When you can throw a frying pan into the air (or rather, shoot it into the sky) and then use ricochet bullets of its metallic surface into the skulls of unsuspecting enemies – floaty platform-jumping sections immediately begin to feel a little dull.
Outside of the colourful trip into the mind of a banana, the levels and locations mostly fall into this category too – with very little that stands out or isn’t the sort of warehouse we’ve seen before. Boss battles also feel a little underwhelming in how easy they are, and almost broken. Excluding the final bid bad showdown, most of these set piece battles involve endless streams of additional enemies pouring in so you can basically keep slow-motion up for the duration of the fight – drastically reducing the difficulty. A minor gripe in an overall memorable action romp.
So, even though My Friend Pedro falters when it strays the furthest from the action-movie ideal of its premise most of the time you’re still a stone-cold killer with a suite of guns and a knack for shooting at bad dudes whilst upside down spinning in mid-air.