A few days ago, PopCap announced its new experimental game studio, 4th & Battery. The studio plans to develop and release conceptual games that don’t quite make it through PopCap’s rigorous development phases. Unpleasant Horse is the first of those games. A play off of Angry Birds, it follows a black flying horse (half cute, half disturbing) that jumps on other ponies backs to stay afloat. Unfortunately for those ponies, the ground is covered in meat grinders. Sounds great, right? Apple doesn’t think so.
A series of tweets from 4th & Battery yesterday revealed Apple’s App Store has rejected the studio’s first game due to “mature content.”
4th & Battery: “WTF? Apple rejected Unpleasant Horse cuz of ‘mature content?’ We thought horses dying in meat grinders was wholesome family entertainment!”
Minutes later, the company deleted its initial tweet and commented that it loves Apple (and Newton by association) and is resubmitting the app for a more appropriate rating. After a razzing by tweeters, it also admitted to deleting the tweet. “It’s not that we “deleted” a tweet. It’s more that we rewrote history. Think of us like the Communist Revolution, without the bread lines.”
While we agree that Unpleasant Horse isn’t exactly Care Bears, does it really deserve a rejection? Sometimes Apple’s App Store decisions are bafflingly inconsistent. But hey, there’s always Android.
An Unpleasant interview
Despite the rejection, 4th & Battery has published an interview it conducted with itself at a local dive bar. The interview reveals that the game was originally concieved in late 2009 during an all night 24-hour code-a-thon PopCap calls GameJam. The rules worked like this: participants were given a randomly generated team of PopCap developers and a randomly generated game title. One participant was given the title “Unpleasant Horse Racing in the Sky.” The first version of the game had you playing as a jockey screaming horrible things at a horse to try and motivate it to the finish lines. However, after seeing an artistic rendition of the horse, the team completely remade the game with only 8 hours left. And so Unpleasant Horse was born.
“I always viewed the Unpleasant Horse, whose name is Bubbles by the way, as female,” said Anthony Coleman, one of the game’s creators. “It may be because the original version of the game had Bad Reputation as the intro song, so I always saw Bubbles more as a Joan Jett character. Why is she so unpleasant? That is a question for the ages, and could be put alongside “why is the sky blue?” or “why is grass green?” Some things in the word just are, and that is all there is to it.”
Hopefully Unpleasant Apple will give us a chance to play the game soon.