"There really is nothing more satisfying than sucking the juice out of a couple of ripe plums, and letting it dribble down my chin. Mmm... I'm imagining it right now... mmm... slurp-slurp... slurrrrrp... mmmmm... so nice...
"Anyway, I'm not here today to talk about that. I'm here to let you know what I think of the latest indie video games. Mr Biffo is going to be telling you all about them, then I shall deliver my verdict in the only way I know how. What a fun activity that will be. A nice change from wandering around orchards all day, enjoyable as that is.
"Though I doubt it will be as much fun as the thing I described to do with the plums... Slurrp... mmmm... ooh, yeah... mmm... licky-lick-lick... mmmm... lovely...
"...Oh dear. I've just realised that sounded a little sexual. I wouldn't want anybody to misconstrue me as a pervert. I have reputation to maintain in the fruit and auto-erotic asphyxiation communities."
This is the core mechanic at the heart of My Friend Pedro - a game which justifies its protagonist's psychotic rampage by having you follow the advice of a talking banana (the Pedro of the title). Self-consciously, try-hard, wacky? You be the judge. Let's face it, I'm hardly the person to ask.
Armed with two guns, and the option to use pretty much any object you come across as a makeshift weapon - or as something to deflect your bullets off - this is not a wholly original experience (banana or not), yet the improvised set-piece carnage mostly makes up for it.
Oddly, the makers of Pedro mix up the gameplay a little more than was necessary - as if they lost confidence that players would be happy with level after level of the same thing - while the ideas seem to lose momentum the closer you get to the end.
Furthermore, the controls are slightly fiddly, and - slow-mo or not - taking down enemies successfully, or making jumps, can be a case of luck over skill. There's also a floatiness to your movement, which means the combat doesn't feel quite as satisfying as some other side-on shooters. Although other side-on shooters don't necessarily let you kick skateboards into the face of your enemy.
Nonetheless, it broadly succeeds in its aim to be a violent ballet, with enough flexibility in how you make it through the levels. Couple to a high score leaderboard, this actually affords it some replay value. And that, my friends... is TOTALLY BANANAS LOL!!!!!?!!!!!!
THE MAN FROM DEL MONTE SAYS: "Yes!"
It's a non-violent experience, as you explore the city by boat, occasionally stopping to scale the buildings, looking for items that'll keep your stupid wounded brother alive.
A solid premise, I'm sure you'll agree, but the excecution leaves much to be desired. Even with its slow unravelling of the siblings' story, it fails to be compelling due to the ugliness of the environments.
A game like this - see Journey - lives and dies on the strength of its visuals and atmosphere, whereas Submerged falls down on both points. Even the heart of the game - its free-climbing - feels off somehow, like you're not entirely connected to the world. Worse still, the whole nonsense just sort of wafts around - there's little sense of urgency, or structure. You simply wander, choosing which buildings to climb at random.
It's a shame, because Submerged demonstrates a lot of ambition, but, alas, without any of the resources to carry off that off.
THE MAN FROM DEL MONTE SAYS: "No!"
You'll pick up more followers along the way, and inevitably lose some in assorted grisly ways - drowning, dismembering, crushing, disease - while messages scroll up on the left of the screen, MMO-style, between Jesus, God, Satan and assorted other omniscient entities. Given that the text is often semi-funny, it's a shame that it's actually quite hard to keep track of it while you're playing.
This is not a complex game, but as it progresses, ensuring the safety of followers does get trickier. Sometimes it lets you down with a poor choice of camera angle, and sometimes you'll lose your entire flock without warning, but overall the simplicity of the controls works in its favour.
Given that there is a certain similarity to the classic Lemmings, there are no doubt certain satirical parallels to be drawn regarding the blindly pious.
It's kind of funny, and it's probably blasphemous; two elements that are all-too-often ignored in games.
THE MAN FROM DEL MONTE SAYS: "No."
That's it, and unlike Submerged it doesn't try to be something it cannot afford to be; in this instance, the lack of development resources is used correctly, to create a serene, pastoral, experience.
I sort of loved Submerged, and was gutted that the whole thing only lasts about 45 minutes (if that). I would've gladly played a full game of this, but for less than the price of a cup of coffee... I can't really grumble.