PopCap is the Pixar of the casual games world. It’s games are universally praised by critics and players of all ages and it has a rigorous internal process for coming up with ideas and polishing them into first class experiences. Few studios do a better job. Plants Vs Zombies, Bejeweled, Peggle, Zuma, Bookworm, and Chuzzle are a few of their more popular hits. However, with such dedication to quality comes a lot of abandoned game concepts, and so PopCap has launched 4th & Battery, a new games studio for its crazier game concepts. The studio is named after the street corner where a lot of the company’s employees hang out.
“Making games at PopCap is crazy and chaotic,” explains Ed Allard, head of studios at PopCap. “We’re constantly prototyping wacky ideas in search of the next great thing, but very few of those ideas make it through our intense internal filters to become full-blown PopCap titles. That means there are lots of fledgling games hiding within our walls that never see the light of day. As a creative team, that drives us nuts — these games want to be free. They may be a little flawed, or a little too small, or too indie, or too strange to merit the PopCap seal of approval, but there’s a spark inside each one of these that just might connect with people.”
This is where 4th & Battery comes in. The goal is to present some of PopCaps “unfiltered chaos” to the masses. The studio’s first title will be hitting the iPhone soon. It’s called Unpleasant Horse. In it, you play a flying horse who’s rather ugly (but hey, who doesn’t love a flying horse?). Your goal is to fly on the backs of other horses to keep yourself afloat. Unfortunately, the horses you land on aren’t so…fortunate. They fall into a pit filled with meat grinders. You probably know what happens next.
If the game sounds a bit sadistic, the rest of the new Website offers no indication future games won’t be just as off-the-wall. Instead of a FAQ section, 4th & Battery has a FUQ, or Frequently Unasked Questions, section that answers questions like “I already have Angry Birds. Why should I care about Unpleasant Horse?” to which it answers “Angry Birds doesn’t have a meat grinder.” The About Us page merely says “You Will Learn. Oh, yes. You. Will. Learn.” which we have a hard time reading without hearing Yoda in our heads.
No formal iPhone release date for Unpleasant Horse has been given. 4th & Battery says other platforms will follow, but for now, iPhone gets it first.