Renegade was a popular arcade game released by Taito in 1986. The ZX Spectrum conversion was released in September of 1987 by Imagine Software - and a fine conversion it turned out to be.
Imagine Software (a company who had famously gone bust before being completely re-invented under Ocean Software) had managed to release a few licensed titles already, most of which had been good games (such as Hypersports and Green Beret).
With this arcade game they were onto another winner.
The backstory to the game had you (as the 'renegade') moving across town to meet up with your girlfriend Lucy.
As soon as you step off the train a group of thugs decide to try and beat you to a pulp. You must fight off the attackers and move through five levels of action to reach your lady.
The five levels were:
The seedy back streets
The main street
The meeting place
Your character was handily well versed in martial arts and street fighting, which gave you a chance when making your way through the levels. In each 'location' there was a different type of gang, from unarmed brawlers, hells' angels armed with chains, to whip wielding ladies of the night. Ahem.
Our hero could punch, kick, flying kick and even knee opponents to send them sprawling. In a slight difference to other beat em ups, it was possible to dish out more 'violence' than normal.
For instance you could grab an assailant by the shoulders and knee them in the groin repeatedly. Nice. You could also knock an attacker to the ground and get on top of them and punch them in the face over and over again. These touches in the game were a lot of fun and made the experience a bit different to other beat em up games.
The fact that moves like this were available to the player gathered some controversy - some people (mostly non-gamers) thought that this extreme violence was out of place in a computer game.
There was usually a 'boss' attacker on each level who you would have to defeat to progress to the next part of town. The bosses were way tougher than the normal gang members, Bertha being a hard one to take down as I remember.
The environments were well drawn and managed to capture the mood of seedy areas at night. The characters were nicely detailled and animated, throwing punches and kicks with conviction - they did look like it would hurt!
There was a nice variety of enemies to battle (such as hell's angels on bikes who would try and run you down), all requiring different tactics to fight them effectively.
The game was completed once you reached your meeting place with Lucy and defeated all of the enemies there. Presumably you then went for a nice pizza or something.
The violence within the game stirred up some negative publicity towards this title on the ZX Spectrum - which of course helped it to seel more copies. Gamers enjoyed it due to the variety of moves, the gritty setting and the challenge the game offered. It scored a nice 89% in Crash magazine, and Renegade was an example of how to produce an official licensed arcade game properly. It was so popular that two sequels would be released over the next couple of years.
The test of time:
We here in the land of ZX Spectrum Games reckon that Renegade is a worthy piece to add to any gaming collection. It took the beat em up genre to a new level on the home computer, rather being a straight martial arts simulation the added element of streetfighting set it apart from the likes of Exploding Fist and Yie ar Kung Fu. This game is still fun to play with enough challenge to keeo you coming back for more. Nice theme tune too.
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Renegade for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could and try play it online.
GENRE: Arcade Game (Beat em up)
RELEASE DATE: September 1987
RELEASED BY: Imagine Software (Under Ocean Software)
DEVELOPER(S): Mike Lamb
PRICE: £7.95 - UK
Our hero doles out some punishment in some classic arcade action:
Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games