ZX Spectrum

Lost Retro Tapes Smash

Renegade started life not as Renegade but as a Japanese arcade game called 熱血硬派くにおくん, or Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun in Western script,  loosely translated as “Hot-Blooded Tough Guy Kunio”. The original game revolves around a high school student standing up against a series of rival gangs targeting his classmates. However, it was felt that the high school setting wouldn’t appeal to the Western market, so it was renamed “Renegade”, and the graphics changed to a setting more akin to a film such as Escape from LA or The Warriors.

In the version we play, we control our Renegade as he battles through levels of thugs, bikers, and some very scary ladies of the night to meet your girlfriend, who has arranged a date on the other side of town. And what a violent town it turns out to be. Every section of it is jammed full of someone wanting to stab, punch and generally make your life a misery. I am unsure what you did to them, but it must have been bad. It feels like how I imagined New York to be when I was a kid, the only time I had seen it was in The Equalizer, so I assumed every subway train was full of muggers, every lift was a lottery if it would contain murderous thugs.

Every section of it is jammed full of someone wanting to stab, punch and generally make your life a misery

Unlike the arcade machine, which used three fire buttons, one to attack in each direction, left and right, and one to jump, this just uses one button. Combine these with holding a direction, and you can punch, back kick (my personal favourite), flying kick, knee to the groin, and punch a floored assailant in the face. And it works really well. The controls are tight and responsive, your character responds well, and fighting feels solid.

Let’s talk graphics; they are spectacularly good; they move nicely, it’s detailed, colour is bright and well-used. Scrolling isn’t a thing, this is a series of flick screens on each level (usually 3 screens per level) but each screen is packed full of detail and atmosphere. Then we come onto the sound. The music is one of my favourite bits of computer game music ever, especially level 3 when you fight outside strip clubs and take on Big Bertha. Just have a listen to it. If you haven’t got a 128k Spectrum thought, it’s worth getting just for this.

Each level is varied, ranging from a Subway station to a red light district via the docks to a gang leader’s home, and each looks beautiful. It loops around again in an infinite loop upon completion, so a high-score challenge is absolutely a thing.

Renegade is an example of an arcade conversion done right. It understands the limitations of the host system, makes concessions to the arcade’s controls, and, in my opinion, betters them. It is incredibly addictive, looks and sounds great, and is an essential purchase for any Spectrum owner.

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Renegade Score


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