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Renegade (NES) artwork

Renegade (NES) review

"One of the earliest beat-em-ups, and one of the more forgettable ones."

Renegade is a simple and fairly bland beat-em-up that lacks any notable features.

The game itself doesn't have any plot or exposition, and the manual has only a few sentences to explain the story. The protagonist, who is named Renegade in the manual and Mr. K in the game, is a vigilante who goes around beating up street thugs and gang members. In Japan, Mr. K is called Kunio and the game is considered to be part of the Kunio-kun series that includes other games by Technos such as River City Ransom.

Several different attacks are available to use, and some are more useful than others. There are ordinary kicks and punches. Whether the A or B button does a punch or a kick depends on the direction the player is facing. Punches and kicks aren't very effective but kicks do have a long reach. Pressing A and B at the same time does a jumping kick, which is extremely effective against most enemies, including bosses. Jumping kicks can be used repeatedly in succession to keep an enemy stunned, and it's easy to avoid most attacks this way. Enemies will duck to avoid jump kicks on occasion. It's also possible to do a running punch or running kick by pressing left or right twice and doing a punch or kick. Running attacks are very powerful but need some effort to set up. Finally, it's possible to throw or knee an enemy, or punch a downed enemy, but this often leaves the player vulnerable to attacks from other enemies. Throwing enemies into pits in levels one and two is an effective strategy.

Renegade consists of four levels. Levels one and three work the same way. They consist of a few screens each where waves of enemies, typically three at a time, with a boss at the end. While most enemies through the game have different sprites and animations, they all have the same basic behavior. If at least two enemies are on the screen they try to position themselves so that one enemy is to the left of the player and the other is to the right. A few enemies have less health but carry a weapon like a chain or bat to cause more damage, and the player can't pick up weapons from defeated enemies.

Level two features enemies that ride around on motorcycles and must be defeated with a jump kick. The second half of the stage also has the player riding on a motorcycle and must defeat enemies a number of enemies by kicking them off of their motorcycles.

Level four is the longest and potentially most frustrating level of the game. It consists of a maze inside of a building. Defeating every enemy in a room opens two, three, or four doors, each of which leads to a different area. Reaching the final boss requires moving through the correct sequence of doors, which is the same sequence every game but it depends on the difficulty setting. This can be a lot of trial and error, and it's possible to move through a door that leads to the end of level three. Curiously, there are enemies on motorcycles inside some of the rooms.

The final boss fights mostly like the other enemies in the game except that he has a gun, and can kill the player instantly. He tends to use it when the player is some distance away, but can use the gun at short range too. It's largely random and luck plays a big factor here. About a quarter of a second after defeating the boss, the credits immediately roll. This feels jarring and it gives the impression that some programming error causes the game to skip a scene. The Japanese version of the game did have a brief scene after defeating the final boss.

While there are a few powerups, they don't make much of a difference in normal play. To get them it's necessary to perform a certain action, like a jump kick, when the clock is on a specific time. Chances are it will only happen once or twice by accident through the course of the game. All health is regained on entering a new screen and the timer is reset to two minutes.

Renegade features three difficulty settings, and the hardest setting is extremely challenging. There is also a two player mode, which consists of two players alternating turns and not playing simultaneously. Renegade keeps score but doesn't save the score anywhere or even show the total score after completing the game. Overall, it might take a skilled player around fifteen minutes to complete the game.

Some of Renegade's problems are understandable, considering it was a fairly early beat-em-up, but the NES version doesn't hold up particularly well. It's short yet repetitive, and feels a bit generic. It might be fun to play through once or twice at most.


Bouchart's avatar
Community review by Bouchart (October 30, 2017)

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honestgamer posted October 30, 2017:

I haven't played this game since the first time I played it, when it was fairly new and a friend of my cousin brought it over to my grandma's place. They left it behind while they went out running around, so I played it for probably 15 or 20 minutes, and I think I got most of the way through the second stage (the one with the motorcycles). I didn't dream at the time that I had made such progress toward the end. Talk about a short game! Your review did a great job of running through three of the four stages and reminding me how tedious this one could be to play, though I still may return to it at some point. I do own it now, I believe.

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