My Friend Pedro: Ripe for Revenge is the unlikely mobile spin-off of My Friend Pedro that has blasted its way onto mobile phones. It’s an odd concept: My Friend Pedro was an easy to learn and hard to master side-scrolling blaster that required precision as players butchered their enemies as they shot their way through a popping backdrop of butcheries and sewers trying to keep up with a punishing difficulty curve.
The mobile game feels natural and intuitive to pick up, even for those who haven’t played the more meticulous original. In a world where touch screens are as common as, well, facemasks, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that basic phone controls are instantly accommodating and don’t even need explaining (although a brief tutorial is present for those who need it).
But what were some of the big challenges in bringing the game to mobile? For sole designer, programmer, artist and writer, Victor Ågren – the one-man band that comprises DeadToast Entertainment – it was an issue of control. “The control system is completely different to the other game,” says Ågren. “The main concern was to preserve the feeling and flow, the philosophy of the whole thing. We just simplified everything, brought it closer to the core, just having two types of inputs – drag and tap – that feel appropriate for a mobile game.”
There are, of course, more expansive methods of implementing less ambiguous controls but, despite the heightened connection this allows users, these alternatives just didn’t seem right to Ågren. As he explains, “I know some people use virtual joysticks but I personally can’t; I’m from the wrong generation I think.”
Although the levels and graphics in particular certainly are simplified, the omnipresent titular talking banana – and gratuitous murder – makes sure the overall tone does not stray too far from the port’s predecessor. Fortunately, despite the new cartoon-style of the adored platformer, it still feels like My Friend Pedro – while movement is noticeably less fluid, mostly due to action being dictated by jumps and slides only, it is still possible to build an undeniably gratifying level of momentum. Flipping off walls, vaulting over enemies heads and shattering through well-crafted environments is as fulfilling as ever.
The experience hearkens back to the Flash games of old, a characteristic that can be attributed to the roots of developer DeadToast Entertainment itself. With a long history in the industry and having been making games for as long as he can remember, the freedom of Flash development is clearly something embedded deep within Ågren to this day. As he reminisces, “[Flash development] is very encouraging towards experimentation, so that experimentational mentality has followed me since then. Not thinking too far ahead, just making stuff and letting the thing I make surprise me through that process.”
One significant downfall of the less elaborate controls is that, in order to allow multipliers to be generated while players are restricted, specific changes to momentum have been enforced; for example, the silent and unnamed avatar will stick to walls while you adjust swipe movements for your next jump. The complexities of joyfully established long, continuous multipliers throughout each level have been reduced, meaning that any dramatic success does feel somewhat less earned.
Reflecting on the experience of crafting My Friend Pedro’s mobile venture, Ågren shares that it was certainly a worthwhile experience to devote his time in lockdown to. “For me personally, I’m most proud that I managed to make something that still incorporated my personal life in the process of making it,” he says. “As a game, I think it’s the simplicity of the final thing, and the fact that it still maintains the spirit of its predecessor.” although, he adds: “A big thing I wanted to do with this project was to find a way for me personally to work in a way that doesn’t burn me out completely. The main benefit to mobile is that it’s okay to make something smaller and more manageable as one person.”
What’s next? Well, although he has enjoyed the fluidity of a more streamlined, smaller-scale project, Ågren is looking forward to utilising more raw computing power in his future projects. “I definitely miss being able to use a high-end CPU or GPU and make something more. Gamepad controls open up different sides to things too, and I miss that,” he reflects.” His concluding thoughts: “My gut feeling right now is that the next thing, whenever that is, will probably be something more on the bigger machines.”
My Friend Pedro: Ripe for Revenge is available now on Android and iOS devices.