The company known as Technos might be best known for creating Double Dragon and River City Ransom, but before coming up with either of its two big hits, it made a number of lesser known titles — of which perhaps Renegade is the most well-known.
Renegade is actually the first game in the Kunio-kun series, which River City Ransom is also a part of. Although none of the games (others including Super Dodge Ball and Nintendo World Cup) are really related in their English incarnations, they all star the same character, Kunio, in the original Japanese releases.
In Renegade, you take control of "Mr. K", who, much like Billy and Jimmy Lee, has to save his kidnapped girlfriend by beating up street thugs. You fight through a variety of stages laying the smackdown on members of various gangs before you get an abrupt credits sequence and the game is over.
Unlike the later games from Technos, Renegade doesn't really feature long, interesting stages — each one only consists of single rooms, which are either one or two screens in length. New identical-looking baddies will keep coming in when you defeat the active ones, until you've beaten enough and the you move through a doorway to another section. Eventually you'll encounter a boss, and when he or she is defeated the stage will end.
Unfortunately, beating stages is easier said than done, as it'll take a while to get used to the awkward and clumsy controls. Pressing one of the two action buttons will make you punch in front, while the other makes you do a backwards kick. When you change directions this layout won't stay the same — the button functions will be swapped around, meaning that instead of "hit in front" and "hit behind", they function more like "hit left" and "hit right". The sooner you realize this odd decision, the faster you'll get the hang of it.
That is, if you're not getting beaten senseless by the enemies — they're relentless and will almost always try to gang up on you. Trying to put together anything resembling a combo will usually prove fruitless, as you'll immediately get punched back by the enemy you're hitting, basically meaning you're just exchanging one blow for another. And of course you've got limited life, as well as lives — lose all of them and you have to start all over.
One interesting aspect is that the game is one of the first of its kind to introduce running (by tapping a direction twice) and a special move (by hitting both attack buttons at the same time), but unless you become a master of AI manipulation, even these won't make surviving that much easier. It's also possible to sit on knocked down enemies to punch them some more, but the window of opportunity for doing this is incredibly small, and because of the aforementioned fact that enemies like to gang up on you, you'll usually get attacked from behind while making your clumsy squatting attempt.
In the end, the only real positive aspect of the game is its music, which is quite upbeat and energetic, and sounds fairly similar to that of River City Ransom. If only it could have played in a different game!
Although it might be interesting to see where the Kunio-kun series began, Renegade is a perfect example of a game that just hasn't aged well. The cumbersome controls, overly aggressive enemies and boring stages all combine to make you regret your purchase almost immediately, especially when you realise that Technos' later, much more refined beat 'em ups are also available.