The Pepper Grinder is one of Alice's weapons in Alice: Madness Returns, and the first long-range, gun-like weapon she gains. It fires pepper corns at speed, works in a similar fashion to a rapid-fire machine gun. It's an important weapon, as it is the only weapon that can be used on Pig Snouts; the pepper makes the snouts sneeze and disappear, which then reveals hidden paths, or a Duchess Basket.
There is a special DLC version of this weapon called the Octo-Grinder.
The Pepper Grinder could have been inspired by Alice's first encounter with the Duchess in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, whose kitchen was full of pepper, making everyone (apart from the Cheshire Cat) foul-tempered and sneeze uncontrollably. The Duchess' cook was putting excessive amounts of pepper into her cooking, and everywhere she went people would start to sneeze. In the original illustrations of the book, the Cook can be seen holding something that looks like a pepper grinder, meaning that it could have been hers to begin with.
American McGee's Alice Edit
To get the Mock Turtle's shell back from the Duchess, Alice had to face her in combat. During the fight, the Duchess used a pepper grinder to shoot black pepper at Alice. However, in the end the pepper was the Duchess's downfall, as it made her sneeze so hard, her head exploded.
Alice: Madness Returns Edit
In Madness Returns, Alice meets up with the Duchess in the Vale of Tears, who gives her the Pepper Grinder so she can collect Pig Snouts, which the Duchess wants to eat; it's possible that this pepper grinder is the same one the Duchess used against Alice the last time they met. In exchange for collecting snouts, Alice can keep the grinder, making it her second weapon, and the Duchess will send her baskets from time to time, which contain Gold Teeth and Roses as payment.
In battle, the Pepper Grinder can take out enemies from a long range, and from different levels, so Alice is safer from damage at a distance. It can also reach enemies that fly from the ground, unlike the other weapons. However, with extensive use, the grinder can overheat (like the Teapot Cannon) and become temporarily unusable for a short period of time until it cools down. Also, most enemies can block its projectiles, sending the pepper corns flying back, and Alice cannot defend herself while attacking, which is a real problem when using it at close range.
The DLC version of the grinder, the Octo-Grinder, handles the same as the original weapon, but with an increased overheat limit and provides double the ammo.
The Pepper Grinder looks like a manual burr grinder, with a crank handle at the top and pig-like features carved into the body; the bottom of the grinder, where the pepper corn shot out, acts as the pig's snout. It's possible that the weapon resembles a pig because of its purpose of collecting pig noses, and being linked to the Duchess.
The Pepper Grinder can be upgraded four times, each changing the rate of fire, cool-down time, attack power and appearance:
- Level 1: A classic tanned wooden grinder with metal detailing and animated facial-features of a pig lightly carved into the wood, including round eyes, ears, and an open mouth with blunt teeth.
- Level 2: Made from dark wood with black metal detailing. The pig's face now has deeper engravings and an angry expression, including furrowed eyebrows and sharper teeth.
- Level 3: Made from red and gold metal, the body of the grinder looks more like the shape of a pig, with ears and a pair of feet sticking out. The barrel is larger in proportion to the "head" of the pig, which has adopted an even more vicious appearance than before.
- Level 4: A fatter, warthog-like appearance made from black and silver metal. The body of grinder is now a full-bodied pig, gaining four legs and the crank becoming the tail. The eyes and mouth glow like red fire, and long, pointy tusks are present in the lower jaw. The nose has a silver ring piece through the "nostrils."
- Level 1 - 0 Teeth
- Level 2 - 150 Teeth
- Level 3 - 675 Teeth
- Level 4 - 800 Teeth
The Octo-Grinder, as the name suggests, is not based on a form of a pig, but a fleshy-pink octopus with black eyes, sticking its head and tentacles out of an orange and white spiral shell. Unlike the Pepper Grinder, it uses octopus ink instead of pepper. The handle is made from black metal, with an anchor-shape on the end.
The Octo-Grinder also gives a bonus of increased maximum ammo, allowing Alice to fire longer without having the weapon overheat.