Pepper Grinder Review

Pepper finds herself shipwrecked on the shore of a mysterious island, and just as she comes to, she witnesses her treasure being hauled off by creatures that resemble walking narwhals. These creatures are part of a pirate gang known as the Narlings, and they have no intention of giving Pepper her treasure back. Soon after setting off after the Narlings, Pepper discovers Grinder, a handheld drill that gives her the power to bore through rock like butter. She’ll soon make the Narlings regret ever taking her loot.


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On its face, Pepper Grinder plays like a side-scrolling action-platform game, but it’s Pepper’s hand that sets it apart from other games in the genre. Grinder is not the kind of drill that you buy off the shelf from Home Depot – this is a drill built for carving a tunnel into the side of a mountain. With it, Pepper can grind her way through dirt and rock, but not at the snail’s pace you’d expect when boring through rock. When Grinder hits rock, it pulls Pepper along at speed. You’ll get the feeling, no doubt the same feeling Pepper must have, that the drill is in control and you’re mostly along for the ride.

With the momentum gained from speeding through rock, Pepper is launched into the air, allowing her to reach heights that would be impossible to obtain by jumping. This momentum is key to making your way through the game’s levels, which often challenge you to chain jumps and drill runs together to navigate vertical sections. You can’t drill through everything, though. The drillable sections are a different shade than the surrounding rock so they’re easy to spot – although if you pay attention, you’ll also weak spots in the surrounding rock that will lead to secret caves and passages. And if you should find that you’ve emerged from the rock too late or early, it backfills behind you so you that you can have another go at it.

The drill also makes for a versatile weapon. You can come up under enemies to dispatch them before they even see you coming, and some sections of the game give you access to drill-powered weaponry. These weapons only show up a few times within the game, though. Most of the time you’ll be whipping through the levels relying on your momentum to strike enemies quickly.


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The game consists of four worlds, and in true action-platform tradition there’s a boss waiting at the end of each. Each has its own unique attacks and style, but as you’d expect defeating them is a matter of recognizing their patterns. You should be able to get through each of those worlds in around an hour, so the game is a bit on the short side. You can get more time out of it in a couple of ways, though. If you collect the hidden coins in the levels, you’ll be able to exchange them to unlock each world’s bonus level. These levels put unique twists on the gameplay (twists that I won’t spoil here and leave it to you to enjoy discovering), so they are worth uncovering. In addition, there is a time-attack mode that is unlocked once you complete the game. The challenges in this mode require some precision timing, so they may be a bit much for the more casual platform gamers out there.

It would have been nice if Pepper Grinder was a longer game, but the time you will have with it will be enjoyable. The fast-paced nature of shooting through the levels can be exhilarating. If you enjoy platformers, you’ll appreciate that someone has found a way to add a unique spin to a genre that has been around almost as long as there have been video games.

Final Rating: 80% - Pepper Grinder is anything but a grind.

 

Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.