After a bit of an approval snafu earlier this month, the first title from PopCap Games’ new edgier games division 4th & Battery has finally hit the App Store. Called Unpleasant Horse [Free], it’s an endless high scoring game that stars - wait for it - an unpleasant horse. And let me tell you, this horse is a real jerk.

Gameplay is simple. Your horse leaps through the air traveling to the right, and can rest upon clouds spread throughout the sky. Pressing anywhere on the screen will cause unpleasant horse to jump to that spot, and the object is to leap from cloud to cloud for as long as possible. There are also cute birdies flying in the air, and jumping into these will give you an additional air jump to use when you need an extra boost in the middle of a jump to make it to your destination.

There are kind and gentle ponies flying through the sky as well, and this is where the unpleasantness comes in. Unpleasant horse can jump onto the backs of these majestic creatures, which are merely minding their own business I might add, and weigh them down sinking towards the ground. The “ground” in this case is a series of spinning saw blades, and you’ll earn extra points by pushing the nice horses down and grinding them into the blades in a shower of gore reminiscent of so many Mortal Kombat games.

So yeah, it’s pretty unpleasant, but it’s also pretty fun. The game mechanics are solid, though it does take a bit of practice to get used to, but once you get a nice run going it’s a very satisfying experience. Guilt-ridden satisfaction, due to all the ponies and birds you end up killing, but satisfaction nonetheless. The game’s description explains that Unpleasant Horse was the result of a game jam where they literally drew words out of a hat and developed a game based around whatever phrase came from it. For this, I’d say Unpleasant Horse actually came out pretty well.

Best of all is you can currently download Unpleasant Horse for free and try it yourself, rather than listening to me blather on about it. When PopCap announced the new 4th & Battery label, they explained that their aim was to try out new experimental titles without having to worry about annoying things like development schedules or profitability. This relaxed take on making games means free games for you, Mr. or Mrs. Consumer, so if Unpleasant Horse sounds interesting to you at all and you can stomach the unpleasantness, then definitely give it a download.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Maxlamenace1

    There is nothing in this review that indicates this game has any value. I wonder how it made it to the front page. The game seems to have so few feature that the writer cannot disguise the fact that he has nothing to write about. Comon TouchArcarde, a bad pun on the mood of the horse is the best you can do?

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      This comment makes no sense.

      • Maxlamenace1

        your review makes no sense

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Good comeback.

        1) It's a high score game 2) I explain the mechanics 3) I say it's pretty fun

        What is it that you were expecting from this review exactly?

      • haiykuw

        No need to explain yourself, Jared. You did your job as a reviewer. If someone doesn't think the game has any value, that's their business. Reviews aren't meant to be the end-all for your particular or personal tastes: just a slight preview of what to expect based on someone else's experience. Doesn't mean you'll like it or hate it for that matter. And in that sense, the comment was invalid.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Thanks. Probably should have just left it alone :) Seemed like such an odd comment though.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Thanks. Probably should have just left it alone :) Seemed like such an odd comment though.

      • http://twitter.com/ScottColbert Scott Colbert

        Agreed. This was a pretty spot on review.

      • Maxlamenace1

        Its not the review I'm mad about, its the fact that this pointless game got a review in the first place. I have my own reasons, but I think its unfair that some game studios cozy up to the media and get guaranteed coverage. You did what you could but its obvious you didn't have much to right about.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        This is the first game from PopCap's brand new studio, which is hugely noteworthy. Beyond that though, it's a game I would have reviewed anyway because I liked it. Simple as that.

        I don't know why people feel the need to latch on to these conspiracies about companies "cozying up to the media".

      • Art Vandelay

        Jared, where's your birth certificate?

      • Royce

        So you reviewed the game largely because of the company that made it, yet you assert that people who believe certain developers are favored to get coverage believe crazy conspiracies? Hmmm...
        FWIW, though I found the gameplay to be highly simplistic and nothing special at all, I thought the game had some nice things going for it in terms of graphics, sound and bizarre mixtures of themes, but ultimately I couldn't take watching the pritty ponies cry as I rode them down into the meat grinders. I guess I'm just not edgy enough for this one.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        No. I reviewed the game largely because I liked it. The fact that it was a noteworthy release would have constituted a quick blurb and download link letting people know it was out, like a news item, but because I found the game pretty entertaining I wrote an actual review for it.

      • Royce

        Fair enough. Guess I misunderstood your previous comment.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        The funny truth of all this is that PopCap has never even made an attempt to "cozy up" to us at all, we're not even on their mailing list for press releases.

      • Maxlamenace1

        You're right they probably dont even care about marketing

      • Mike

        Hes one of thkse mission europa nutcases.

      • Maxlamenace1

        From somebody who contemplates mincing ponies into sawblades, nutcase sounds like a compliment. Alright I'm done trolling this thread carry on mincing ponies.

      • Mike

        Even Joystiq is covering this game unlike Mission Europa:
        http://www.joystiq.com/2011/04/28/unpleasant-horse-trots-nay-prances-onto-app-store/

    • Jack Queues

      Y'know, this might not be totally fair, but for some reason I get the sense that Maxlamenace1 is a big Mission Europa fan...

      • Maxlamenace1

        Touché

    • Mike
  • lucrezio

    i tried the game.. and it's fun.. i love the background music and smashing pony is so fun ahah

  • Aer2

    i tried a couple rounds with the game, maybe it doesn't translate well on the ipad, or maybe i just suck at these types of games, but i deleted it within minutes of getting it.

    not every genre is for everyone though, so i'm sure there's those that will spend the months obsessing over their score or something.

    • http://twitter.com/akhatman Akhat

      They may not, at least because there is no global leaderboard installed.

  • Misnomer

    It would have been nice to have a gameplay video, instead of the same teaser video that has always been used for this game. It is supposed to be a review, after all.

    • Anonymous

      The game is free and barely 15 MB. You'd most probably download it and start playing before you could finish watching another video :P

  • lucrezio

    it's Free! take a look by yourself.. it's better than 1000 reviews :)

  • iJuice

    Probably the WORST game ever under the popcap name. Do not waste your time to download it. It's really a shame on popcap and the 4th&battery label. Is this the maximum from a developer legend ? Spent your money on better development...ooohhh and don't forget your visit your local psichology to take a consultation !!

    • http://twitter.com/ScottColbert Scott Colbert

      You might want to take an English class; it's psychology not psichology.

  • JC

    Played 20 seconds and deleted it.
    It problably takes more time to "get" the game but I could bother... I've die like 10 times during these 20s (very bad user experience).

    JC

  • Padi

    I can see how the game might not be everyone's thing; I'd say the biggest flaw is that sometimes you either need to take a completely blind leap of faith or just sit and wait for a victim. I still love this game, though, because of its comic delivery and mostly satisfying risk/reward dynamic (you get the most points for getting as close to sawblades as possible before bailing). But the absolute best thing to do with this $0 game is let other people play without the tutorial and just encourage them to keep trying until they discover the "twist ending" of the game's mechanics on their own. People either crack up the first time they Yoshi jump a pony into the saw blade, or hand me back the iPod disgustedly. I'm highly excited for more ridiculous concept games by 4th & Battery.

  • Jack Queues

    For an experimental freebie, a lot of care and attention has gone into this game. Just one example: When you get a new high score, that score slams into the Top 10 table, pushing the No. 10 score out the bottom, so that it falls down into the sawblades and gets horribly minced.

    If you're the kind of person who appreciates little details like that, then you should go download Unpleasant Horse. You will find it unpleasantly refreshing.

  • Anonymous

    This game is not worth the time. It's obvious how short the development period truly was.

    • Happy W

      Wow, I had the exact opposite reaction to the game. So much on the App Store strikes me as rather slapdash—even some of the big name hits can feel kinda amateurish—while this Unpleasant Horse thing, a throwaway freebie, has really been polished up nicely. The sound design alone blows away something like Angry Birds, in my opinion.

      (Unless you're referring to the amount of content in the game; I'll admit that there doesn't seem to be enough here to keep you playing for weeks.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrzej-Raczynski/668591493 Andrzej Raczynski

        seroius? the audio in angry birds is the main thing that keeps me coming back :) i love hearing those taunts from the pigs/monkeys/etc. makes it personal :)

      • Happy W

        Well...I was serious, but now that you've called me on it, I honestly can't say why I picked on Angry Birds. You're right, the sound design in Angry Birds is fun.

        Let's just say I'm an idiot and leave it at that? :-)

  • nizy

    I think some of you are being rather harsh on this game, after all it is free. I've seen much worse games on the app store that actually charge money! It has a solid and fun gameplay mechanic and some nice hidden extras when you get into it, such as combos for killing multiple horses in succession, and rewards for last second getaways etc.

    Having said that game enter is badly needed, both for high scores and achievements. I can think of some wicked achievements for this game.

  • http://profiles.google.com/john.taylor.home John Taylor

    This game is HILARIOUS once you figure it out! Though I've yet to beat any of the default high scores, this game might be too hard to accomplish that.

    Can't wait to see my little sister's face when I unpleasantly smash a white pony into the blades! ahahah!

  • Anonymous

    no comment for the main topic...
    i thought it's a much better blog...

  • nicholas

    its a game people, either u like it or not, its by a well known dev. so expect coverage, its free so in todays world where u wouldnt get anything for that price its nice. oh and f**k that heckler loser he needs to go to a sports game and get that edge off. Its video game review not a discussion over ending world terriorism. The review was short and sweet and to the point good job man.

  • Sense Field

    14 horse combo! Yep...I would have paid for this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cristiano-Fernandez/100001794208078 Cristiano Fernandez

    I wonder the same thing... But the graphics seem ok I guess... I ve seen better graphics and gameplay on Chupacabra. Check it out on itunes.

  • Ariphas

    I often have a problem in which the horse will not jump in the direction I tap. This often happens if I tap somewhere very high on the screen, which sometimes makes the horse jump downwards. At times, a single jump from a pony/cloud often takes away a feather, for no apparent reason.

    • Ariphas

      But other than that, all the good points about this game, listed in the review, make it worth the download, and I'll keep it as my go-to casual game.

  • Casual lover

    Wow interesting comments here. I for one just feel sorry for the incredible talent that has to sit in PopCap waiting for this ipo they keep singing about. Obviously the talk of the sale is just an attempt to lure a big fish into buying them. Clearly from the lack of new IP coming out of the studio recently they are just going to continue rehashing safe IP on different platforms until someone buys them. This must be very frustrating for the developers in their global studios I'd imagine. Their last completely new IP was released on 5th of May 09 (PvZ). New Zuma and Bejeweled were released since but you'd hardly consider shinier versions of there old games new IP. 

    I'm also a little surprised by the level of interest in such a novelty title. I can see it has its merits,a few visual gags but it's weak by comparison to a lot of high score games. I guess it will draw attention if it's associated with PopCap.  4th and Battery is the same studio as PopCap, if this is the only freedom the devs get between making more ports of their old games then I predict a mass exodus of PopCap staff once they finally do sell. 

    Hopefully I'm wrong and we'll see a good new IP from PopCap this year....but don't hold your breaths. 

      

     

  • wwwfdf

    I love the game and everything about it, but without saving progress SMW is of no appeal to me and I am very sad that Team Meat has no intention of fixing this. I have been playing video games for 27 years and I have seen pretty bad decisions from developers over that period of time, but I would never have expected that kind of neglect from Indie developers let alone Team Meat.  fake omega

Unpleasant Horse Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 3.5