By Jason Vincion Friday, 6 Nov 2009

Renegade was one of the first NES games I had, as my dad bought it for me at a low price ($10) from the owner of a video store. The man who regrets buying the system for me bought me games as well, though I believe he did that before he became regretful.

In any event, it was part of the small collection of games I had at the time, so I played it quite a bit. I thought it was a decent game back then and I’m curious as to how well it has held up. Are you curious as well? Read on if you like…

In Renegade, the plot is simple enough to be summed up by a short paragraph in the manual: “You’re surrounded by gangs of blood-thirsty thugs. You weren’t looking for trouble, but you’re not going to run from it either. Only you can put these punks in their place – face down in the gutter. Your flying fists and killer kicks will have to do the job. It’s either you or them!”

You’ve got to appreciate its brevity, but if the instruction manual’s plot was a little too vague for you (as it was for me), I was able to decipher that you are Mr. K and you have to beat

up guys in wife-beaters, ninjas in purple suits, Elvis impersonators on motorcycles, and women in red dresses. Once you’re done dealing with those folks, you meet up with the bosses – Jack, Joel, Kim, and Sabu. I must give props to the people at Taito for putting the suicidal, homicidal, genocidal maniac in the game (Sabu is also the name of a professional wrestler), but the plot is basically transparent.

The controls for this game are definitely abnormal. When you face left, B is punch to the left, and A is kick to the right. When you face right, A is punch to the right and B is kick to the left. It’s the same setup as Double Dragon II (for reasons you’ll find out later in the review). Pressing B and A together leads to a jump kick, and you’ll learn to treasure this move, as it will be necessary to abuse it if you want to get anywhere in the game. You can also knee and toss opponents, but the game unfortunately lacks the spinning cyclone kick. One of the good things is that the play control is rather fluid, so it’s just a matter of getting the hang of the controls.

There are three different difficulty settings for Renegade: level 1, level 2, and level 3. Level 1 is as easy as Sunday morning, level 2 is intermediate, and level 3 is pretty hard. Renegade also doesn’t have a password/save system, though it would be laughable if it had one due to the brevity of the game itself. On level 1, it takes me about 10-15 minutes to finish the game. That’s pretty short, even for a side-scrolling fighter. It’d probably take a little longer on levels 2 and 3, but I haven’t bothered. All in all, it’s too short for my tastes.

The graphics for Renegade aren’t too bad, considering the game was made in 1987. The characters are kind of detailed and the color palettes are alright (though they’re on the blah side). The backgrounds are amusing at times, because it’s obvious that the clip-art was liberally applied. The animations aren’t real fluid, but they get the job done.

The music varies quite a bit in Renegade. There are times when it sounds like it should have been in City Connection, and there are times when the music fits the game like a glove. Mission 1 definitely suffers from City Connection-it is, though once

Mission 2 hits, Renegade’s music finds its groove with a dirty hard rock chipstyle. It then continues to stay good through the rest of the game (save for a couple of lapses in Mission 4). The music itself is a little simplistic, but it keeps the game moving well. The sound effects are strange though, as the hits sound muffled, the jump kicks make a weird noise when you do them and occasionally offset the music, leaving nothing but a somewhat high-pitched squeal for about a second. There’s nothing terrible here, but nothing terribly special either.

As I alluded to earlier in the review, Renegade may have been published by Taito, but it was created by the people who have made some of the best side-scrolling fighters on the NES, Technos Japan. You can see bits of this game in the other Technos Japan games on the NES. Kim (pictured above) is Abobo’s long lost sister, the music is similar at some points to music from River City Ransom, and the fighting system from Renegade was reused and improved upon for Double Dragon II. In an abstract sense, Renegade is a lot like a band’s first release. There’s some solid material on there, but there’s certainly room for improvement. Technos Japan definitely improved upon it with the Double Dragon series & River City Ransom.

Those are other games, though, and this is about Renegade. As a side-scrolling fighter, it’s fairly solid. It’s kind of fun to play, but there’s nothing exceptionally interesting about it, which is a common theme through most of the game’s design. It’s not as terrible as some folks have made it out to be, but it’ll never be touted as the greatest NES game to ever exist by anyone that’s sane.

2 Responses to “Renegade”

  1. Eric Kennedy Says:

    I think you hit it right on the head, Jason: this game ain’t terrible, but it won’t knock your socks off, either. I actually really enjoy the music, though; even the first stage’s music! You did forget to mention the radical motorcycle level, which adds to the list of quirks that make this one worth the brief playthrough. I dunno, it’s just a weird game back when Technos hadn’t quite figured out their perfect beat-em-up formula. I think the “band’s first album” analogy is apt. Okay is all this game is, but every RCR or Double Dragon fan should play through it once just to see where it all kinda started.

  2. Zach Patterson Says:

    huh…never realized Renegade was basically a raw DD/RCR. I love the Technos sprite art though. Some of the most iconic stuff for the NES.

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