Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Night Rentals: Renegade

The 80's is strong with this one.

Bringing justice to the crime ridden streets comes at a price, and the price was fun; Double Dragon this was not.  That was one of the first things I realized when I first started playing Renegade for the NES.  Sure, it had the beat'em up style I had enjoyed from games like Double Dragon and even Battletoads, but this was had none of the charm, or satisfaction, that came from defeating wave after wave of enemies.  Sure, it was a port of an arcade game, but sometimes you get the feeling that there were games that should have just stayed in the arcade.  After two separate rental attempts to enjoy Renegade, i.e. I wasted several bucks on a rental, I decided it just wasn't for me.  Part of it was the difficulty, but another part of it was the critical, "This game just isn't any fun to me," factor.  So, when I saw this game for sale a few weeks ago as part of a lot of NES games I though it was about time to confront my old NES frustrations head on and see if I could take down the city's street gangs in my own form of non-Batman vigilante justice.

Yeah, it still wasn't that fun.

Watch out cliff!  I'm comin' for yah!

This was the first time I remember feeling left behind in the world of fighting games.  Sure, there were cool moves you could pull off like chucking people over your shoulder, face-punching them on the ground, knee-groin'ing them to death--but I had no clue what to do to pull them off.  When you rented a game it was rare you got the manual with the game telling you how to do special moves, or even basic moves for that matter.  You would fumble your way as best you could through a game hoping that you didn't accidentally find the instant kill-your-own-guy button.  In the day of the internet I can now easily pull off those face punches, but back in the day it was chore just to get the hero not to decide to kick the empty air behind him rather than punch the guy in front of him.  Heck, it still was difficult to do that even nowadays.  I don't know what my guy has against the air, or if he's just constantly hallucinating a threat behind him, but it seems to be his favorite thing to do.  Especially when I'm nearly dead and every punch counts.

This of course doesn't even touch on the frustration that can be had by accidentally causing your character to bum-rush a random cliff--and lose.

Music and Sound

"Once you're a jet" this is not...

I swear, almost every level track feels a bit too similar to me.  Not that the 8-bit era was exactly a great bastion of musical variance, but in a day when every Mega Man boss stage had a unique sounding track this one just felt lazy to me.  Every track feels like a variance of the first one from the first level.  Yeah, say what you will about how Mario had that same familiar tune, but at least I felt like I could bop along to it.  I will say that the "shaker" sound in the background does help keep the rhythm up so you feel like you are in "action mode," but this soundtrack never really held my attention.

The sound effects were a bit tinny in my opinion and just lacked the satisfaction you'd get from other games, like Double Dragon.  I'm not sure if because Renegade was an arcade port that they were trying too hard to imitate the "arcade action and sound" but they missed the mark.  Yeah, Battletoads was a bear of game, but I love those dull thuds and satisfying "chunking" sounds any day compared to what Renegade has to offer.


You fight, and fight and fight.  80's and 90's beat'em ups were just good old fashioned button-mashing fun.  You and a friend grab a controller, and try to plow your way through the game on a limited life bar and a few lives.  There's a continue cheat you can use to get to the last level with ease, and I'd probably do it myself after having reached the last level and died.  And die you will.  It was difficult in the day, and it still is now.  Even if you just jump-kick your way through most of the game, the last level basically has you fighting two clones of the bosses from previous stages in nearly every room.  Not to mention you had to choose the right door to go through in order to advance to the end or you would risk ending back at the start.  Probably this was to help the game eat quarters as an arcade game, but on the home port it just added to the frustration level.

Final Thoughts:

I picked Renegade all of twice back in the day, and it still left an impression as a frustrating slice from the beat'em up genre.  My opinion has not changed.  Even though I can get fairly far in the game now (without initial use of level select codes), I don't get the satisfaction that I want out of thrashing enemies.  I always loved Battletoads and Double Dragon despite getting crushed by the difficulty, but this...I guess it just goes back on the shelf for now.  Maybe I'll beat it one day, but not this day.

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