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Pepper Grinder


Release Date

ESRB Rating




Bob Hoose

Game Review

Pepper has a grinder, and she knows how to use it.

And all of this young woman’s digging and grinding finesse is on display in a creative, swashbuckling, side-scrolling platformer appropriately called Pepper Grinder.

This inventive little 2-D pixel art game kicks off with a simple premise: Pepper’s ship has run aground on the coastline of a strange island. While she lays unconscious on the shore, a pink-haired pirate and her goblin-like minions steal her treasure of jewels. But upon waking and giving chase, Pepper falls and finds herself stranded in a seemingly inescapable rocky gorge.

Fortunately for the beleaguered captain, however, she finds an odd, gas-engine mechanical grinder/drill that’s about as big as she is. And when Pepper fires it up, it burrows into the gorge’s soft rock, dragging her along in its wake.

She’ll need to use this chugging, motorized device to navigate patches of dirt, volcanic magma, ice, water and poisonous marsh in the rocky terrain around her. And if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, she’ll fight foes, beat big bosses and work to find and reclaim her stolen treasure.

The core game mechanic here is, of course, steering Pepper’s conical grinder that she uses to dig through various substances and leap from level to level.

That device can also power up other gadgets Pepper finds along the way. She can, for instance, slip the grinder into a gun-like adapter to blast at obstacles and foes; she can use it to crank a bridge to a higher level; she can rocket herself forward with a grinder-powered cannon. The grinder can even power up an ice-skimming snowmobile or a building-ramming robot.

After mastering the basics, players have to figure out the sometimes very complicated platforming challenges and environmental puzzles set before them. Along the way, they also collect jewels embedded in the ground and dig up special coins. Those coins can be exchanged for cosmetic add-ons (hair color changes, capes and outfits) or used to unlock extra levels of play.

Pepper Grinder is a single-player-only game. And you don’t need an online connection to play it.


This game’s level design is clever and colorful. Gamers are guided forward by a glittering trail of gems imbedded in diggable areas. And its pixel art feels cartoonishly retro, making for an eye-catching experience.

Pepper Grinder is also very fluid and fun, demanding just the right combination of boosted speed, grapple-hook grabs and strategically timed jumps.

Since Pepper’s challenges are presented in a series of relatively short levels, play can be limited to five-to-ten-minute chunks if so desired.


All of the above said, however, some areas can be frustratingly difficult at times. Those head-scratching challenges can result in Pepper falling to her doom—sometimes into deadly lava. (There’s no mess or blood and the 2-D pixel character reappears for another attempt.)

And Pepper must deal with more than just challenging jumps and digs. Large insects and goblin critters come at Pepper, sometimes in a flooding rush. These creatures can come carrying guns and flamethrowers, and some wear protective armor. One large skeletal boss strikes with high-powered laser beams. And many times, the onrushing crowds or boss battles can feel intense and frenetic.

When Pepper strikes with her grinder or zaps a critter with a gun, the attacker instantly changes into a skull and bones that crumble away. Pepper also encounters explosive landmines and flamethrowing turrets that she must maneuver around if she hopes to survive.

(I played on the Nintendo Switch. But the game is also offered on PC. And if played with a keyboard and no thumbsticks, I can only imagine that the fast-paced game play would be very difficult.)


Pepper and her grinder offer gamers some tasty side-scrolling play that’s fun, fluid and never too spicy.

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.