Renegade is an arcade beat ’em up that was developed by Technos Japan and distributed into arcades by Taito in 1986. Although Renegade might appear basic by today’s standards it was in fact an important game in the fighting genre and one that defined many of the gameplay standards we still see today.
Renegade is semi-autobiographical, based on the teenage life of its designer, Yoshihisa Kishimoto, who regularly got into fights at school against bullies. Kishimoto also drew inspiration from the Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon (1973) for the style of the combat. For its release in the West Technos changed the graphics to resemble the gangs in the 1979 film The Warriors, to give them a more ‘American style’ look.
You play as Kunio, a tough street-brawling kid who stands up to a series of rival gangs who have been bullying his friends. Kunio must face four different gangs in order to rescue his girlfriend who is being held captive by a mob boss.
The game uses a three-button control scheme with separate buttons for punching and kicking and one for jump. You can run by pushing the joystick twice in the direction you’re facing, and you can hold, throw and stomp enemies by pressing certain button combinations. If an enemy is knocked to the ground you can stand on top of them, push down, and Kunio will sit on top of them. Using a frontal attack while sat on top of an enemy will make Kunio pummel them repeatedly.
The player has an extended health bar but only one life (although you can earn more lives as you progress). You can move freely throughout each scrolling area although you must avoid falling into certain areas (like the tracks on stage one and the water on stage two). You must take on – and beat – a number of enemies at once, and defeat a boss at the end of each stage. The boss character usually stands back and watches at first, only joining in when you’ve knocked-out a certain number of his heavies. Once you beat the boss you complete the stage – even if there are still some opponents left – so focusing on the boss and knocking down his health bar should be a priority.
As fighting games go: Renegade is a tough challenge. Enemies can grab you and hold your arms, attacking you simultaneously. You can break out of a hold by using a certain move, but you must react quickly. Only by learning the right moves and applying them in battle do you have any chance of beating a stage. It’s also wise to keep moving around, but you do need to keep an eye on the timer as it will end a stage if it reaches zero. Dodging enemy attacks is vital for survival and learning how to do jump kicks and back kicks in the right direction is also a must.
The only thing missing from Renegade is a simultaneous two-player mode (as seen in Technos Japan‘s 1987 release, Double Dragon). A second player can participate, but players must take it in turns to fight.
Renegade is a classic arcade beat ’em up, but may be too difficult for some. The game does get easier when you work out what to do. It’s still worth playing now, and worth persevering with, even though there are more enjoyable examples of the scrolling beat ’em up genre available to play out there.
Renegade was ported to a variety of home systems in the late 1980s and even received a number of non-canonical sequels courtesy of British publisher Ocean Software.
More: Renegade on Wikipedia