Well, hello there. Oh, don’t be afraid, it’s just me, your old pal. Want to know how stylish bananas can be? If so, get ready with My Friend Pedro review.
Sometimes, concepts look amazing when they are, well, just concepts. However, a good concept doesn’t mean that the rest of the elements present in the game are going to work flawlessly. Today’s title falls in the second category, but in a way that really makes me question several choices. And now, without further delay, here is what happens when you befriend bananas. This is My Friend Pedro review.
Time moves in a ‘Flash’
If you don’t know anything about DeadToast Entertainment, allow me to enlighten with some fun knowledge about it. Victor Agren is the one and only in charge of this one-man army studio, and he has some good amount of experience under his belt. He’s been making games since 2005, with a huge display of styles and ideas in each one of his creations. And the funniest thing of all is that My Friend Pedro was one of those first concepts.
The Flash version of My Friend Pedro left quite the impression in my teenager mind once I played it. The browser title managed to capture what we were going to find in this year’s version. Shooting bad guys with a talking banana at our side was just the main premise that will later morph into today’s title. It was inspired by The Matrix and Max Payne and its concept was simple, sure. But it was this simplicity that made it a fun title to fiddle with. Can the same be said about the fully fledged version? Well…
Press everything to not die
What are the available actions in My Friend Pedro? That’s easy: we can jump, wall jump, dodge wall jump, roll, crouch, shoot, split our aim, shoot AND dodge, do back flips and front flips, kick, jump kick and slow down time. We can also blow our enemies into pieces, hit other enemies with said pieces, shoot gas containers, step on enemies, ride skateboards, hit pans in order to make bullets ricochet from them, and grab onto hooks and ropes. Did you get all that? Good, now the big issue: the button layout doesn’t make this work flawlessly.
The default configuration is weirdly placed. You slow down time with L3. While this feature only makes you look cool as you can beat the game without using it at all, the default position is odd. Thankfully, you can remap buttons on PC, so I put it on the Y button (the default ‘Interact’ action) instead. I mean, Interact is only used to flip some tables you are barely going to see, flip some switches and advance dialogue boxes, right? Well, at the end of the game, there’s a QTE that comes out of nowhere that makes you press the Interact button several times in order to not die. This wasn’t a fun thing to do with L3 as you can tell.
“But you can just change the button layout, what’s the big deal then?” you may ask. You see, as much as you change the layout, sometimes the game tells you to do things that will make your fingers hurt a lot. Imagine this: you are surrounded by enemies. The game wants you to input these actions at the same time in order to survive. It wants you to shoot, split aim, and dodge. The split aim doesn’t aim at the thing you want to aim at most of the time (even with auto-aim set to ‘High’). You also have to hold down the Dodge button. And if you want to kick someone, you have to aim at him instead of walking towards him. But is it worth the struggle?
B for ‘but I don’t get it’
The score system in this game doesn’t make any sense. Like… at all. I was going to start with some small talk about how action games know how to strike the balance between style and reward. You know, how games like Bayonetta, Revengeance or DMC 5 offer you a better rank the more rad you are with your combos. But screw that, because I’ve been trying to understand the rank system in My Friend Pedro and I just can’t understand how it works.
You can see in the lower section of the HUD the combo meter. That works as expected: the more kills you get, the higher the combo will be. In order to keep the combo meter up, you have to kill enemies quickly. You can get hit two times before it goes down to zero again. So far so good, right? In order to get a higher score, you kill enemies fast and with style. Does this make your final score high in the end? You’ll never f*cking know.
Let’s say that I manage to get an x18 combo. I worked my way through the level with a few scratches, but with tons of flips and tricks and what not. Final score? B. Next level: I completely mess things up, I got mauled and obliterated and I even die once (which doesn’t grant you a bonus at the end). What’s my score here? A. And what does the game tell me on that screen in order to improve for next time? The Kills and the Bonus I get. That’s it.
You are peeling me apart Pedro
I could ramble on and on about My Friend Pedro. And I know that I’ve just addressed negative things in this review. But those two issues make the whole experience less meaningful and way less fun to deal with. The concept of a 2D action platformer that allows you to look and feel like a badass should put extra emphasis on the feeling part as well. The way you have to input certain actions is odd no matter how much you tweak the button mapping. And to add insult to injury, the scoring system has its own confusing rules for ranking your style. You killed those guys while dodging and doing a front flip at the same time while another one died from an explosion? Here’s a B for you.
I left many things out of this post because these felt completely irrelevant. The plot is there just for the sake of having something to tie the levels together. The platforming can be imprecise at times due to your character having to roll every single time he lands. The bosses are dull as wood. Yes, they are bosses in this game, and they all fall into the boring premise of shoot it until it dies. The most interesting (and I’m saying that in the loosest of terms) is one that makes you shoot at some metal plates in order to deal damage. Riveting.