This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the links to jump straight to day three or day seven.

Maximus is a side-scrolling brawler - a genre that several developers have tried to re-ignite over the years, to no effect.

It's not entirely clear why brawlers fell out of favour. It could be that they don't work as well on control pads as they did on big, greasy, thumpable arcade controllers. Or it could be that their limited replayability rendered them unappealing to savvy modern gamers with plenty of choice.

Or they could just be rubbish.

Whatever the explanation, for the last few years most of the brawlers we've seen on iOS have been retro remakes for arcade aficionados.

Maximus attempts to bring new life to the brawler genre by grafting a freemium payment model onto it. Join me as I find out over the next seven days whether the experiment works.

First impressions

The game is bright and simple to look at, getting the bare minimum done and very little else. Aesthetically it's straightforward, but tonally it's all over the place, with references to other video games and wider pop culture scattered throughout.

One of the main bosses looks like he's a riff on Darth Vader, a selectable character looks like a cross between Zangief from Street Fighter II and Abobo from Double Dragon, and a look-a-like of the gnomes from Golden Axe makes an appearance too.

The gameplay is very much in the vein of Final Fight, Streets of Rage, and so on. You hammer on two buttons for combat - a light and quick attack, plus a stronger but slower hit - and run about confined combat arenas by using the floating joystick.

It's basic fare, but enjoyable enough so far, and I'm keen to see more.

Day 3: Insert coin to continue

Maximus continues to throw the same old ideas at me, peppered with references to past franchises. It's not exactly an unpleasant experience, but it feels crushingly familiar.

The AI's plan of attack is to do one of two things: walk straight towards you hoping to attack, or dither about aimlessly and wind up getting hit by a hazard in the environment.

Fighting most enemies is little more than mashing the 'light attack' button and then whipping out a special move when you're surrounded.

Bosses present a different challenge, and are among the best bad guys to face. They have access to more sophisticated move-sets, such as the ability to unleash a worm that burrows underground and pops up beneath you.

Another mechanic that's a throwback to the brawling genre's arcade origins is the continue system. Back in the '80s and '90s kids would throw coins into a machine for another go, and you can do more or less the same thing here.

You can replay a level if you die, but you'll start from the beginning. However, if you want to pick up from where you left off you'll need a continue, and these cost real-world cash.

They're not essential for making progress - or at least they haven't been so far - but they do mean you don't have to go back to previous levels and grind for money and experience.

You can purchase stat upgrades for your hero with the gold coins you acquire throughout your journey, making enemies easier to defeat. There are also additional weapons to get, which also have a positive (and sometimes negative) effect on how hard you can thwack things.

I'm still yet to hit any pay walls, which is very encouraging, even if the standard gameplay is yet to show me any new ideas.

Day 7: Wise fwom your gwaves!

There's still nothing new about Maximus. Even more tropes of the genre have appeared, not all of them bringing back the fond memories this title is looking to evoke.

It's possible to ride about on top of beasts, a la Golden Axe, and you can call upon magical powers to clear the screen of enemies, a la, well, also Golden Axe. This latter ability is useful for giving yourself some breathing room if things get too hectic, which they often do, but I found no good reason to ride the aforementioned animals.

One of the mounts was a pretty awesome-looking owl, though, so I guess that's something.

I've gone back and replayed some of the earlier missions with my improved hero, and these are much easier to beat now that my fighter is a higher level.

You can keep plugging away at these same areas for more money and upgrades, or you can head into the other modes that gradually unlock as you play.

Survival mode, by way of example, is a wave-based slogathon in which you face off against legions of enemies until you lose all your health. The issue here is that it highlights that there are very few moves in your arsenal that can get you out of a scrum. This mode eventually devolves into credit-munching.

What's sorely lacking, though, is multiplayer. Brawlers have always been more fun with mates - see Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Castle Crashers, and Guardian Heroes for proof of this - and it's absence here is obvious.

If you're looking for an old skool brawler, and don't fancy paying anything for it, then Maximus is worth a download. Its biggest flaw is that it doesn't experiment within the well-established boundaries of its genre, meaning that you've seen all it has to offer before you even play it.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.