Ravenous Games has built up a reputation for creating hard-as-nails, retro-styled smartphone gaming gems, all wrapped up in gorgeous pixel-art graphics.

With Beatdown!, the Canadian developer wants to add its distinct style to the side-scrolling beat-'em-up, and it just about works.

Punch punch jump

The game begins with our protagonist being fired from his job. After a brief speech about not standing for this and people having to pay, the adventure in fisticuffs begins, with revenge, justice, and punching at the top of the menu.

The controls are simple. Two buttons on the bottom-left of the screen handle your jumps and attacks, and you can control your movement with a D-pad, a floating stick, or use the default method of swiping the screen.

You can move up and down the levels as well and left and right, much like in Streets of Rage. Unlike in Streets of Rage, though, you're not beating up street toughs, but middle managers with cups of coffee and shirt and tie-clad nerds who fire lasers from their eyes.

Later levels introduce riot police, zombies, and mimes for you to despatch as well, and an Endless mode lets you take on wave after wave of bad guys to see how long you can survive.

Once you've hit enough people you fill up your 'rage' meter, which turns you into an unstoppable large-fisted punching machine for a matter of seconds. There are 20 levels to fight your way through, with boss battles punctuating the action too.

Don't let them beat you down

Beatdown! is an incredibly simple game to get the hang of, but smashing your way through some of the boss battles and later levels can be a real slog. Once you're surrounded by disgruntled co-workers and masked ninjas, your health bar can disappear in a matter of seconds.

Masochists and fans of the genre will lap it up, but it sets the entry level a little too high for some, and while other Ravenous games have been tough, the larger levels mean working back to where you were can be a real slog.

This isn't the most welcoming of games, but beat-'em-up fans are going to find a lot to get their teeth into, and the skill and craft with which the game is built may well convert some naysayers too.

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