In a desperate attempt to keep its collective head from exploding, PopCap Games has launched a new studio called 4th & Battery that’s already hard at work on some serious weirdness called Unpleasant Horse.

PopCap takes its casual games very seriously. When you get a PopCap game, you can be sure that you’re getting the best of the best: deeply engaging, highly-polished and tweaked to perfection. But that’s not an easy standard to maintain in every single project and sometimes it means that potentially cool ideas end up set aside because they just don’t fit that well-honed mold. Thus, 4th & Battery, an “experimental label” where PopCap can run around naked without worrying about annoying the neighbors.

“4th & Battery is a pressure valve intended to keep our heads from exploding,” said PopCap Executive Vice President Ed Allard. “The PopCap brand has become closely associated with ultra-high quality, polish and attention to detail – which is a great thing. But our standard game development process is therefore long and involved, and doesn’t really accommodate all of the creativity pumping through our collective veins. 4th & Battery gives us a way to quickly try really strange or marginal ideas, and to give our designers a safe area to hone their chops.”

“4th & Battery is a purely experimental, creative label with none of the typical concerns like schedules, profitability, or even target audience. It’s kind of the video game equivalent of B-sides or short films,” added PopCap co-founder Jason Kapalka. “Expect weirdness.”

The first bit of weirdness to come out of the studio will be Unpleasant Horse, a game about a “strikingly unpleasant horse” that also happens to fly, and who progresses through the game by killing small birds and landing on other, more pleasant horses, forcing them downward into a “perpetual meat grinder” to earn extra points and special bonuses. Hey, the man told you to expect weirdness.

Unpleasant Horse will be out later this month for the iPhone and iPod Touch via the App Store, and will be free.

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