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Unpleasant Horse

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad


Product: Unpleasant Horse | Developer: 4th & Battery | Publisher: PopCap Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.01
Unpleasant Horse iPhone, thumbnail 1
In some ways, spinning off a small experimental studio from PopCap makes a lot of sense.

The company has established a very strong reputation for making high quality casual titles that are so polished you can see your reflection in them.

But it’s also something of a ‘happy’ company - one where violence or malice is shunned in favour of spectacle-wearing worms, hungry frogs, and Fever Time. Nobody can object to Fever Time.

4th & Battery’s Unpleasant Horse just wouldn’t have fitted with the company image - here’s a game where you play a horse on a mission to effectively slaughter other horses in a massive meat-grinder. A very un-threatening looking horse, true, but certainly unpleasant.

Ironically, the game itself is a fairly pleasant little time-waster, but it lacks the ability to be anything more.

Horse of war

The game takes the form of a horizontal endless jumping game in which you move from left to right, hopping onto clouds, stealing birds’ feathers, and ‘mounting’ pearly white horses.

Controlling your horse is entirely performed through a tap-to-jump system, with your equine avatar either automatically latching onto a target with a direct tap or vaulting in the chosen direction should you tap thin air.

Grabbing a feather from a passing bird allows you to store up a double-jump, but in the main you’ll be looking out for the high-scoring white horses (technically resembling the mythical Pegasus) to leap on top of, causing both horses to drop into the meat grinder on the ground.

The longer you remain on your (we presume) female mount, the more points you score, the main risk coming from waiting too long to leap away from the grinder and getting minced yourself.

Popping horses

Despite not technically being from PopCap, there’s still an air of the company’s handiwork present in Unpleasant Horse.

From the soothing strings of the Blue Danube waltz (acting as counterpoint to the vicious meat grinding) to the quality artwork and neat little details such as the white horses crying as they plummet, the game will no doubt get a few wry smiles.

Unfortunately, much like the rapid descent of a mounted horse, it’ll soon end up in the meat grinder of your iPhone’s memory.

Trotting along

This is because - unlike Doodle Jump or Robot Unicorn Attack, which both gradually build in difficulty - Unpleasant Horse keeps throwing you into situations where you either have to sit tight for a few seconds and wait for a bird to appear or make the next jump blind.

It completely breaks up the flow of the game, slowing the pace right down or, in the case of a leap of faith, ending it without good reason.

Even more disappointing is the lack of social integration for bragging or online highscores to aim for. Endless runners/jumpers thrive off competition, so the absence of social features is keenly felt.

As an example of what 4th & Battery could produce in the future, Unpleasant Horse is an interesting title - professional-looking, easy to play, and filled with a dark sense of humour.

The gameplay just needs a bit more of that famous PopCap polish.
Unpleasant Horse
Reviewer photo
Will Wilson | 28 April 2011
Attractive and fun for a short while, the unbalanced gameplay and lack of social features end up clipping the wings of this fairly pleasant casual game
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Show: Latest | Oldest
May 2011
Post count:
JeffJobs1001 | 08:28 - 1 May 2011
I dont like all these games!!

I strongly recommend a free couple-game I found just now (named GOGGLE FROG) which I have played with my girl friend the whole day!!!


Apr 2011
Post count:
Sunday Roast | 15:15 - 28 April 2011
I agree with you that the game lacks a bit of polish but it was never intended to be a serious release, I presume it's an attempt to keep a air of creativity while the reality is that PopCap are not being very adventurous with new franchises at the moment.
It is clear from PopCap's latest releases that all they are doing is milking existing franchises to keep the books looking good in order to get the max price when sold. This is sad for the employees as I'm sure it must be very dull to continually churn out the same games on new platforms.

I don't agree that 'The company has established a very strong reputation for making high quality casual titles that are so polished you can see your reflection in them.'

PopCap's iPhone titles are way behind titles that have been specifically designed for iPhone. There massive in size, very slow to load, not using retina art, clearly they are PC games that have been crammed into a mobile device. Impressive as that is, it clearly has its drawbacks. PvZ iPhone is the best example. There is still no endless mode added and the game was released ages ago. This shows to me that the it was probably impossible to have this mode as the animation techniques were never optimized for mobile devices and 100 Zombies on screen!

PopCap is an excellent developer on PC, even a great innovator. But on mobile they are way behind the leaders like Halfbrick, Zeptolab, Lima Sky who are clearly designing games for mobile not just cramming PC code into a phone.

Dec 2010
Post count:
PG BBilson | 14:23 - 28 April 2011
Good spot Matt - Currently playing 7th Guest at the same time so it must have wriggled its way into my head while typing.

Edited now.
Apr 2011
Post count:
Matt F | 14:14 - 28 April 2011
"As an example of what 7th & Battery could produce in the future, Unpleasant Horse is an interesting title - professional-looking, easy to play, and filled with a dark sense of humour."

Its 4th & Battery not 7th... please do some professional journalism, not whatever....