My Friend Pedro: A Revolution for Side Scrollers

17 Oct

For anyone who doesn’t know me, side scrollers are not impressive enough for me to play, as side scrollers were apart of my childhood, as my bar for side scrollers is Mario 3 and Sonic 2, for me at least. Developed by Devlover Digital and running on the Unity engine, I didn’t expect to like My Friend Pedro, but the trailers were interesting enough, but I never got around to it until the XBOX Games Pass made it available. And who doesn’t like free shit? What can be said is that My Friend Pedro seems to be aware of what it is. It’s like someone read Deadpool’s journal or psychological evaluation, and then slapped it on a side scroller. But also, it’s hard for me to say it, but this game has really made me remember side scrollers as valuable to games, when my side scrolling days resides in the dust bowl as third and first person are my choice for game perspectives. For anyone who doesn’t know what side scrollers are, they are games highly recognized from the 80’s, where the characters move left and right, before the arrival of 3D games in the late 90’s.

            There’s the story, as our hero, who remains nameless, is guiding by a banana named Pedro, as he’s kidnapped, and he has to escape, and no surprise, murder his way out of a mobster’s restaurant. He begins on a journey that takes him through dingy neighborhoods, shooting at targets on a motorcycle, shooting up haters in Pedro’s dream, and all the way to the Internet, where he finds a shocking revelation, where his psyche is pushed to the brink, and a sequel from here, might be pointless. I wouldn’t have expected a side scroller like My Friend Pedro to be as epic as it sounds, but for 2D scrollers, it does respect the history of side scrollers, internalizing it, and performing John Wick acrobatics into our memories. 

            If playing on a system, put on your stereo because music will be the primary narration tool for how our masked friend and Pedro move through the world, replacing voices with text reading that you start to ignore and accept as part of the game’s presentation. While this would otherwise annoy me, the pacing is fun so that you don’t have to question the logic of the game’s narration, which is all over the place, tricking you to like it, without actually doing much work to convince the player My Friend Pedro achieves. What is fun is learning the mechanics and finding out how to use the focus mechanic, as it allows the player to slow down time, and perform flips in mid-air. 

            Enemies peer out of doors and each time they die it’s returning your brain back to a place where Mario is probably having wet dreams thinking about My Friend Pedro. The weapons all have a meaty kick in the sound system and it will definitely make your neighbor hate you. I think there should be a way to lower the game’s music because it can ruin your regular televisions sound system. 

            While this is the case, the overall fun factor behind My Friend Pedro is why it caught my attention anyway. Weapons range from pistols, Mac 10’s, Shotgun, AR-15 with a grenade launcher, and a Sniper rifle, which helps when you can restart the game with all your weapons after you complete one playthrough of the campaign. All have their perks as far as weapons go, but the weapons are best at times when you aren’t put into the middle of the fight. 

            The best feature to master is the dual lock on system which is a must as you have to fight your way out of impossible odds. It’s tricky at first but it’s a nice feature the player doesn’t expect to have. Also can use pans and barrels to kill enemies, as the bullets hit the pan, the crisp satisfaction of hearing bullets ricochet off it is close to summoning spirits on a Ouija board. Also, the skateboard is a nice functionality that pushes the level into a tricky playthrough, as you have to kick it so that you aren’t surrounded by enemies and can keep you moving. 

It’s the replay-ability factor that helps My Friend Pedro as it shouldn’t be addictive, but the presentation and the love for 2D scrollers, is nostalgia on acid but a next step for the 2D scroller. What makes the game enjoyable is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, as the game gives far more in the second playthrough, allowing you to rank up on the leaderboards. 

It’s a masterpiece because 2D games have become a sign of nostalgia for older gamers, but the evolution it brings is akin to how Doom (2016) found its niche among the old “boomer shooters” as it catered to both old and new gamers. My Friend Pedro does this masterfully, and is definitely a game that is as fucked up as it is fun.

With graphics, paired down story, thumping soundtrack, combat that can give John Wick an erection, My Friend Pedro is an elevation for the side scroller medium and a must play for anyone interested in side scrollers, or those who have lost faith in the medium.

Available on PlayStation, XBOX, PC, and Nintendo Switch at 19.99, but free with the XBOX Game Pass, at a reduced price if you buy it with your game pass. 

Final Rating: 10/10  

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