Sometimes when playing a game, I want to feel like a cool guy. Is that so weird? When I press buttons on a controller, I want to feel like my character is not only following what I command, but doing so in style. The game should look as cool to play as it feels, and when everything comes together perfectly, it's a dangerous combination.
My Friend Pedro: Blood, Bullets, Bananas, is exactly the kind of game I'm talking about. One where the action on screen is exciting to look at, but even more invigorating to pull off. A vicious blend of Hotline Miami's graphic action and classic 2D action games that might not last long, but feels amazing from start to finish.
Hefty praise, right? Well it's all deserved, and it's rare that I'd open any review with just unabashed glee, but this game looked good when it was announced, and when you get your own hands on the controller, you won't be disappointed.
To start at the beginning, My Friend Pedro is an action platformer where a floating banana named Pedro pokes you through a variety of interesting levels, presumably all in the name of gore. You start out with a pair of pistols, and pop off a few enemies while wall jumping, rolling on the ground, spinning on the spot, and pulling a whole bunch of triggers.
The way the protagonist moves and animates is wonderful, making every segment look like a brutal aerial ballet, straight out of a Devil May Cry cutscene.
A slow motion feature which you can use for intense battles also gives an air of coolness to the proceedings. Keep slaying enemies at a rapid pace, and you'll rack up extra points on a multiplier, giving you the incentive to rerun levels on harder difficulties, more smoothly and quickly than before.
I had people compare the character to Deadpool, and it's easy to see why. It's the character's movement and physics that really make the game feel cool to play, as each move you make seamlessly flows into one another.
Slide down a cable and aim both of your weapons, and he'll hang upside down while shooting enemies in separate directions. Jump in slow motion, and he'll perform a flip. You can wall jump on every wall. Ziplines and switches make things even more interesting.
And just as things feel a bit monotonous - y'know, the amazingly cool kind of monotonous - the game mixes things up. New weapons, new stage mechanics, surfaces to ricochet your bullets off of, lasers, trip mines. Things stay fresh.
I will say that the laser-dodging platforming challenges aren't exactly as fun as many other mechanics, but the instances where the less interesting idea appear are much less frequent than the unadulterated action and fun.
Okay, I've been intensely positive so far, so let's wind things back and make some constructive criticisms.
The button layout can feel complicated at times. All you really need to play the game are the two sticks, jump button, and fire. Like, that's the bare minimum, but you're already going to have to take your thumb off your aim in order to jump, and you'll definitely be killing a lot of enemies in mid-air.
Then there's the L button, which is a wonderful spinning dodge. Spin and shoot, and you'll spray bullets horizontally on both sides of you. It restricts accurate aiming, but looks cool and let's you phase through bullets.
But ZL is the button you use to aim your second weapon. And of course, if there are two enemies or more, you'll likely need to dodge, and flicking between the two is not clean.
Then the slow-motion mode is on clicking in the left stick, and honestly, I often just forgot it was there, and I rarely found it to be too useful. Though, on replaying harder stages, I was at least keeping it in mind more. It's a cool feature, but not essential.
The stages range from a couple of minutes long, to almost ten minutes, and there's a bunch of them to play and replay, which is great. But the action has basically no pauses, and I found it hard to keep playing for long sessions.
I'd jump in, play a few, love them, then take a break and do something else. Luckily, the Switch was perfect for this kind of playstyle, and I still found myself ploughing through the game quickly.
But you do eventually sink into the controls and the variety of weapons, and despite some levels feeling very similar, you'll find yourself moving through the game at a quick pace, just because it's so much fun to play.
Also, I just want to say, I made it to top of the leaderboards on the final level. Yes, that's pre-release, so there was only a handful of people, but still, this could by only moment as the alpha-reviewer. Let me have it.