I do not like this game. Normally, I'd have some cute lead-in into the review, where I'd entice you into thinking I may or may not like a game, or have you wondering if a game is good or not. But not this time. I hate Beatdown and I don't want to play it for another minute.
So because I hate Beatdown, does that mean it's a bad game? That's debatable. If you like 8-bit pixel beat 'em ups, with one jump kick and one set of fighting animations at your disposal, then you'll like this game. If you like wonky controls, lopsided boss fights and questionable hit detection, then you'll still like this game.
Beatdown is a throwback to the beat 'em up games of yesteryear. If the beat 'em up games of yesterday were made to drive you insane. I remember enjoying games like Double Dragon, Final Fight and Ninja Turtles. I'd spend hours playing them at the arcade. And even though they could be frustrating at times, they were at least fair in their frustration. And I was pretty good at them too. I used to be able to beat Double Dragon on one quarter, on one life, and twice I had done it without ever taking a hit. So it's not like beat 'em ups are foreign to me.
After having served 10 years at your job, you come to work and receive an email saying you've been fired. Instead of packing your bags and heading home, you decide the best way to deal with this is by beating up everyone you come across. And that's the story of Beatdown, a game that has you looking for the person who put you on the unemployment line so you can do what every fired employee would love to do -- kick their former boss's ass.
That's you in the middle in the picture above. You're goal is to beat up everyone who isn't you on screen. Controls are simple -- left side moves your guy, B is to punch and A is to jump. You can choose between three different control types but Thumb is the preferred method of the three, which isn't saying much because even that configuration sucks.
It's just too hard trying to move your guy around the screen. Sometimes the Thumb control scheme (a virtual joystick that pops up on screen where you place your thumb), can drop off the bottom of the screen and you're left standing still to get hit in the face. D-Pad is worthless. Analog is ok, but it is placed right where it can block some of the action.
You've only got one set of punch moves and a jump kick. That's it. No combos, no sweet back elbows, no throws, no slams, no picking up barrels and throwing them. You just punch. You can pick up weapons and use them, but they wear out after a while. The game becomes very repetitious just in the first few levels. Most beat 'em ups are filled with repetition but it takes a few stages before you start noticing it. Beatdown drags right from the start.
The boss fights are some of the most frustrating experiences I've ever encountered. And yes, I've played Battletoads. (Ok, so it's not like Battletoads.) Hit detection is really questionable, and because you're playing as and against little blocky dudes, it can be hard to avoid them. The second boss alone is aggravating because not only do you have to deal with him, but two other regular guys as well. Jump kicks do no good because he just swats you with his baton. When he spins with his baton, which takes forever for him to stop doing, you can't jump over him because he'll hit you. Cornered? Screwed. Guys on both sides of you? Screwed. There's no way to replenish your health, so if you get hit three times in a row, you may as well let him kill you. I hated this boss fight so much I wanted to throw my iPad across the room.
Beatdown has potential, but it's hampered by repetitious gameplay, boring moves, shady controls and questionable hit detection. If you want to spend money on a beat 'em up, there are plenty of old school classics available in the App Store. I can see now why this guy was fired from his job. He's not very good at what he does.