Renegade (video game)
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|Publisher(s)||Technos Japan (Japan)
Taito (North America, Europe)
|Genre(s)||Beat 'em up|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Renegade is a video game released in American and European arcades in 1986 by Taito. It is a westernized conversion (including changes to all of the sprites and backgrounds) of the Japanese arcade game Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun (熱血硬派くにおくん?, which roughly translates to "Hot-Blooded Tough Guy Kunio"), released earlier the same year by Technos. It is an immediate technological predecessor to Double Dragon, and Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun is the inaugural game in the Kunio-kun series (which includes Super Dodge Ball and River City Ransom).
Renegade first introduced several trademarks of the beat 'em up genre, including 4-directional control, punch-jump-kick play action, and enemies which can sustain multiple hits. It is considered to be one of the most influential titles of the video game industry.
In Renegade, the player controls a vigilante (named Mr. K in the NES and SMS versions), who fights a variety of street gangs on his way to save his girlfriend. Unlike Technos' subsequent game Double Dragon, the playing field is limited to one two-screen-wide area (a subway platform, a harbor, an alley, a parking lot and the hideout of a gang) and does not scroll continuously. Out of the four stages in the game, the first, second and third each begin with the player fighting a group made up of two different types of small fry enemies: one with fewer hit points and a stronger attack (usually armed with a weapon) and one with more hit points, but with a weaker attack and the ability to grab the player from behind, making him vulnerable to other enemies' attacks.
When only three underlings remain (in any combination of the two) their boss will come in from the sidelines and join the fight. When the boss is defeated, any remaining enemies retreat off the bottom of the screen, and the stage ends. The second stage follows this same formula, but begins with a series of enemies riding motorcycles trying to run the player down, and brings in the normal enemies once the bikers have been defeated. The third stage is a gang of women; their boss is a very large woman who cannot easily be knocked to the ground. The fourth stage features a single type of knife-wielding enemy who can kill the player with one hit. Once the player has defeated this first wave of enemies, the main character proceeds to enter a building at the far right of the stage. There, he faces three more knife-wielding enemies and the final boss, a mobster whose gunfire is also deadly with one hit. Once the final boss is defeated, the main character exits the building and is greeted by his rescued girlfriend, who proceeds to give him a kiss. The game then begins the next cycle with an increased difficulty.
In addition to an eight-direction joystick, there are three buttons; left attack, right attack, and jump. Pressing the attack in the direction the character is facing will punch, while attacking in the opposite direction will perform a rear kick. Jumping, followed immediately by one of the attack buttons, which will perform a jumping kick in the direction of the attack.
Pressing the joystick twice quickly either left or right will cause the player to run, at which point attacking in the direction of the run will perform a running punch, jumping will automatically perform a flying kick, and attacking in the opposite direction will bring the player to a sudden halt and perform a back-kick. Pressing down over a downed enemy will make the player sit on top of the enemy, at which point attacking toward the enemy will cause the player to pummel him. The bosses can only be sat on if all normal enemies have been defeated, and unless the boss' energy level is low enough, he'll throw the player off.
Renegade is a localization of the Japanese Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun for the North American and Worldwide markets, with the game's graphics changed in an attempt to adapt the game's setting to a more western style (with what can be seen as thinly veiled 'inspiration' from the film The Warriors). The gangs of thugs and bikers featured in Renegade were originally high school delinquents, bōsōzoku members, a sukeban along with her minions, and finally Yakuza members in Kunio-kun. The subway level in the first stage was originally a Japanese train station, whereas most of the signs and billboards in the last two stages were also written in Japanese. The title of the Japanese version was influenced by Konami's arcade game, Shinnyuushain Tooru-Kun (known outside Japan as Mikie).
Instead of the damsel-in-distress plot of Renegade, Kunio-kun instead featured the titular high school student, Kunio (くにお?), standing up for his bullied friend Hiroshi. Each stage begins with the stage's gang beating up Hiroshi in front of Nekketsu High School and Kunio chasing after his attackers. Unlike Renegade, Kunio and the game's bosses are identified by name in-game, whereas the characters in Renegade are simply identified by the generic identifier "1P" or "2P" (depending on who is playing) and "BOSS" (it was not until the NES version that bosses in Renegade were given names). The bosses of Kunio-kun are as followed: Riki (りき?), Shinji (しんじ?), Misuzu (みすず?) and Sabu (さぶ?). The game ends with Hiroshi and several students of Nekketsu High School greeting Kunio outside Sabu's hideout, with Hiroshi giving Kunio a firm handshake. The game begins a new cycle, this time skipping the pre-stage introductions. Like Renegade, each character has a catch-phrase said by them in digitized voice, but spoken in Japanese.
The Family Computer version of Kunio-kun was Technos Japan's first game for a home console. After Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, Technos Japan reused the Kunio character for several more games, beginning with Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu (the Japanese version of Super Dodge Ball) released for the arcades and the Famicom/NES. Some were released overseas such as River City Ransom (the American version of Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari), Nintendo World Cup (Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu: Soccer Hen) and Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge (Bikkuri Nekketsu Shin Kiroku!), but most of them were released only in Japan. Kunio eventually became Technos Japan's official mascot, appearing on the company's logos in the intros of some of their later games, as well as in their Japanese television advertisements.
The NES version, developed in-house by Technos and released in 1987 by Taito in North America, is a strong departure from the original arcade game; the first three stages each consist of a series of two-screens wide levels against a group of three enemies at a time, culminating in a one-on-one fight with the boss. The second stage also contains a side-scrolling motorcycle chase, in which the player tries to kick opponents off their motorcycles, prior to the boss fight. In the third stage, the player can choose from one of two paths after clearing the first level of enemies: one leads to a confrontation against the stage boss, while the other is a second level filled with small fry enemies. The fourth and final stage is a maze of numerous rooms, filled with enemies and previous bosses, inside a building which the player must proceed in order to reach the final boss. There are trap doors in this stage which warps the player back to a previous stage, forcing the player to begin all over. The NES port of Renegade was released for the Wii's Virtual Console in North America on May 5, 2008 at a cost of 500 Wii Points. 
The Master System version, developed by Natsume and published by Sega in 1993, is based largely on the NES port rather than the original arcade, but with enhanced graphics and several improvements like new death cutscenes and a revamped ending. This port was only released in Europe, Australia and Brazil.
Home computer versions were released for the Amiga, Apple II and IBM PC in North America and for the Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Atari ST and Commodore 64 in Europe. The American computer ports were developed by Software Creations and published by Taito, whereas the European computer ports were handled by Imagine Software and published by Ocean Software. They were typically limited to one fire button rather than three; the different moves are achieved by combining different joystick directions with a fire button press. The Amstrad CPC version mimicked the three-button control of the original by combining the joystick control with the cursor keys. The Spectrum and Amstrad versions featured flip-screen rather than scrolling levels. Barring these changes, the home computer versions were close renditions of the arcade game in terms of level layout, enemies and gameplay. The Spectrum version was voted number 48 in the Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time.
Ocean Software produced two unofficial sequels to Renegade: Target: Renegade, and Renegade 3: The Final Chapter. These were released for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC, but never had corresponding arcade versions. Target: Renegade and Renegade 3: The Final Chapter was also released on the NES and MSX.
Technos was slated to release the Game Boy title Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun: Bangai Rantō Hen as a follow-up called The Renegades, but it was eventually retooled as Double Dragon II and published by Acclaim.
Technos produced numerous games starring Kunio in Japan. Some of these were localized in North America as Super Dodge Ball, River City Ransom and Nintendo World Cup. Technos had no involvement with the Ocean-produced Renegade sequels.
Impact in popular culture
|UK number-one Spectrum game
December 1987 – January 1988
Game Set and Match
- Kurt Kalata & Saikak. Kunio-kun / Nekketsu High School. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on 3 March 2008.
- Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun. The Nekketsu Typhoon. Retrieved on 8 April 2008.
- Virtually Overlooked: Renegade. Nintendo Wii Fanboy. Retrieved on 8 April 2008.
- "Pokémon Puzzle League and Renegade Now Available on Wii Shop Channel!". Nintendo of America. 2008-05-05. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- "Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time". Your Sinclair. September 1993.
- "Article 48—AMERICAN TECHNOS THE RENEGADES FLYER". VIDEO-GAME EPHEMERA.
- ichigo 100% vol.19: Shuisha 2002