Review of a pepper grinder that is described as powerful and efficient.

A new indie game, blending elements of Drill Dozer and Ecco The Dolphin, is a top pick for 2024.

April 3rd 2024.

Review of a pepper grinder that is described as powerful and efficient.
Pepper Grinder: The Perfect Seasoning for Your Gaming Experience

In the world of gaming, there are often hidden gems that go unnoticed by the masses. One such gem is Pepper Grinder, a cross between the beloved GBA classic Drill Dozer and the Mega Drive favorite Ecco The Dolphin. Released in 2024, this indie game has proven to be one of the best of its kind.

Many are surprised to learn that developer Game Freak, known for their popular Pokémon franchise, actually creates other games as well. While their smaller, indie-style games like Giga Wrecker and Tembo The Badass Elephant may not sell as well, they continue to release them without hesitation. And among these games, Drill Dozer stands out as their best creation. Unfortunately, it never received a sequel, but now we have its spiritual successor - Pepper Grinder.

Although it shares similarities with Drill Dozer, Pepper Grinder stands on its own with its unique ideas and gameplay. The main character, a girl named Pepper, uses a giant drill to destroy enemies and activate lifts and equipment. But what sets this game apart is its use of the drilling gimmick - constantly tunnelling through the earth and popping out to arc through the air like Ecco The Dolphin.

As with many indie games, Pepper Grinder pays homage to older 2D titles. However, what makes it different is the perfect balance between these influences and its own original ideas. There are no forced references or gimmicks here, just a truly unique and enjoyable gaming experience. The only downside is that the game is quite short, but the quality more than makes up for it.

The game's setting is loosely sketched, beginning with Pepper being shipwrecked and her treasure stolen by strange goblin-like creatures and an evil nemesis. Her luck turns around when she finds a gigantic drill, which she uses to defend herself and dig through soft surfaces. This may seem odd, but it's reminiscent of older games that required players to learn new skills and adapt to different gameplay mechanics.

The learning curve in Pepper Grinder is perfectly balanced, gradually introducing new concepts and elements as you progress through the levels. From obstacles like leaking lava to grappling hooks and even a machine gun attachment, there's always something new and exciting to keep you on your toes. And the level design is just as impressive, with creative challenges like jumping on balloons and sinking ships by drilling holes in their hulls.

Despite its low-resolution pixel graphics, Pepper Grinder is visually stunning. The animations, especially on the giant bosses, are impressive. The music is also noteworthy, although it may take a while to get into the groove.

The only real issue with the game is its short length. But in a world filled with bloated open-world games and never-ending live service titles, Pepper Grinder is a refreshing change of pace. It's a testament to the game's quality that players will wish there was more of it, rather than feeling like it overstayed its welcome.

Pepper Grinder is a must-try for any gaming enthusiast. Its nods to other retro classics add to the fun, but it's the game's own imaginative gameplay that truly shines. And at a reasonable price, it's the perfect palette cleanser to play in between larger, more time-consuming games.

Pepper Grinder review summary:
In Short: The perfect blend of nostalgia and originality, Pepper Grinder is a clever tribute to Drill Dozer and Ecco The Dolphin, and a refreshing alternative to lengthy modern titles.
Pros: The drill mechanic is versatile and fun to use, with creative gimmicks and imaginative set pieces. The pixel graphics are excellent, and the boss battles are fantastic.
Cons: The slow start may turn off some players, and the game's short length may leave you wanting more.
Score: 8/10
Formats: Nintendo Switch and PC
Price: £13.49
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Ahr Ech
Release Date: 28th March 2024
Age Rating: 7
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