aRenegade USA 188x266 Renegade NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDeveloper: Technos
Publisher: Taito

Released: January 1988
US Cartridge ID: NES-RG-USA

Players: 2/Alternating
Genre: Beat ‘Em Up
Supported Peripherals: Controller

ROM Size: 1 megabit
Mapper: UNROM (128k PRG)

Requires Flash10

Renegade  is a respectable port of the 1986 arcade beat `em up that revolutionized the genre, introducing several concepts (such as combos and the ability to move not just left and right, but also up and down) that would become staples in later hits like Golden Axe, Renegade USA 001 Renegade NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotFinal Fight, and Streets of Rage. It is typically recognized as the progenitor of the infamous Double Dragon series (also developed by Technos Japan), the first of which was released a year after Renegade‘s release. Renegade is also the first title in the Kunio-kun series of games, including River City Ransom, Super Dodge Ball, and Crash ‘n the Boys: Street Challenge.

There isn’t much story provided to justify the action: Mr. K, a fearsome renegade stuck perpetually in the American 1950s, finds himself surrounded by gang members. Relying on his street smarts, has to fight his way out. Mr. K’s battles will take him through four separate stages, including a subway platform, a wharf, an alleyway, and a building that is laid out like a maze. Most areas are only a few screens wide, and upon defeating a set number of enemies, multiple exits will open. The choice of which to take is critical, as some doors will permit further progress through the level, while others will send the player straight back to the beginning of the stage.

The controls take some getting used to, being more complex than those found in most other NES games. The A and B buttons allow Mr. K to punch enemies in front of him or kick ones behind him without turning around, while both buttons together will do a jump kick. By double-tapping left or right on the control pad, Mr. K can sprint across the screen,
allowing for running punches and kicks. If an enemy is stunned, he can be thrown, kneed Renegade USA 029 Renegade NES Nintendo Review Screenshot
in the stomach, and when knocked down, can be sat on and repeated struck about the face.. The more advanced moves take some practice to do reliably, but the controls are responsive and well-suited to their task. Power-ups will appear when certain conditions are met (usually performing a specific move on an enemy when the timer hits a predetermined point), though they are rare and difficult to get, making them useful but unreliable most of the time. There are three selectable difficulty settings, allowing for a reasonable progression of difficulty as the player becomes more proficient with the game’s controls and mechanics.

Though they lack of detail, suffer from choppy animation, and are excessively pixelated,the character sprites in Renegade are reasonably large, colorful, and sport a lot of personality and charm –  characters’ eyes will bug out when they’re hit, and they’ll crouch down with
their mouths agape if they’ve been stunned. Some surprising enemy characters further contribute to the game’s unique flavor: one scene pits Mr. K against a mob of angry women in florescent pink dresses, whose lethal fashion accessory attacks he must fend off as he attempts to escape the darkened alley that they’ve cornered him in. The game’s graphics have been heavily altered from the Japanese version, Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun, with most of the characters and backgrounds redrawn to look less “alien” to western players, though they are similar in terms of quality. The music provides a somewhat Renegade USA 036 Renegade NES Nintendo Review Screenshotmundane complement to the action, supplying 50’s style rockabilly tunes; they’re not in the slightest bit memorable, but thankfully avoid become grating or annoying.

There is no denying that Renegade is a landmark title that made several contributions to the furthering of the modern day beat ’em up, and it is as fun as it is historically important. Though it falters in its short play-time and its glaring lack of a cooperative two-player mode, Renegade is an entertaining way of looking back on the forefather of one of the most popular arcade genres of the 1990’s.

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flag us Renegade NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotRenegade
Taito, 1/1988
flag jpn Renegade NES Nintendo Review Screenshot熱血硬派くにおくん (Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun)
Hot Blooded Thug Kunio
Technos, 4/1987