Technos' Double Dragon became a household name and River City Ransom gained rave reviews from all and sundry, but people often forget that the company also released Renegade on the NES, forming what many fans deem to be a classic trilogy of 8-bit fighting games. Sadly, Renegade is easily the worst of this trio. Although it shares many traits with its stable mate fighters, the control is sloppy, the action repetitive and the graphics disappointing.
But let’s try and focus on the positive before we ponder the negative. In terms of control Renegade was undeniably ahead of its time; it featured a ‘dash’ move (activated by pressing a direction twice) which would be incorporated into many other scrolling fighters. It also showcased the directional attack system that would crop up in other Technos titles. When facing right, your character punches right with B and kicks behind him with A. These controls are reversed when facing left. This system allows you to cope with assailants from both sides, which is handy as attackers in this game often swamp you. As was the case in Double Dragon, pressing both buttons together performs a flying kick. It’s also possible to throw enemies and stomp them when they’re prone on the ground, but sadly the controls make this slightly less easy than it might sound.
Compared to the silky smooth control of Streets of Rage 2 or Final Fight, Renegade feels like a relic from the past. Just stringing together a meaningful combination of punches is an effort in itself and the limited nature of your attacks results in the game becoming mind-numbingly dull in a short space of time. Although we’ve already made the mistake of comparing it to other side-scrolling games, there isn’t actually a great deal of scrolling going on – you’re confined to a room and progress is made by defeating enemies and then walking through doors into other equally populated areas. This gets old quickly and Renegade lacks the inventive locations of both Double Dragon and River City Ransom. The fact that all your foes look identical doesn’t help matters, either.
The final nail in the coffin is the lack of a simultaneous two-player option, which might have rendered the game a little more entertaining. Double Dragon is also guilty of this, but that game is a lot more fun and easy to control; so it’s a little more forgiveable. Unless you happen to be a massive fan of this game then we really can’t see any reason why you would want to download it when River City Ransom is available, as well as the other excellent brawlers that are on the Virtual Console.