Target Renegade (TR) was one of those rare exceptions to the rule when a sequel was better than the original. Released in 1988, it did something unheard of and actually made the ZX Spectrum look good!
It had sharp graphics, bone crunching sounds and 8 bit music to shake your head along to. As anyone who owned a Speccy knows, the games took a while to load, however, TR wasn’t an issue as it had a really cool loading screen of a shirtless guy kicking through the screen!
TR dispensed with the fixed two screen gang fights of predecessor Renegade, for a ‘Double Dragon/Streets Of Rage’ side scrolling street beat-em-up.
You could play as two players together on one screen and utilise a variety of moves including : punches, flying kicks, back kicks, punching your victim in the head whilst they are lying comatose and a nice line in grabbing your opponent and kneeing them in the gaz-zoonga’s.
The first level has the player in a multi storey car park working their way down to street level. Just to make things difficult, you were constantly harrassed by the local motorcycle gang and before doling a can of whup ass on them, you had to flying kick them off of their motorbikes. If that wasn’t fun enough, you could retrieve a variety of weapons from your opponents to crack their skulls with – including sledge hammers, axes and a mace!!
Level two was set on a sleazy street at night and the main opponents were women prostitutes and a pimp who pops up every now and again to shoot at you.
Strangely, any guilt at pulversing woman (even streetwalkers) is lost when the first one grabs you and knees you in the gaz-zoonga’s with their devastating signature move !!
Level Three is set in a park and bar finding an axe lying around is similar to the multi storey level (without the bikes). Your main opponents in this level are skinheads and look like they have stepped straight out of Romper Stomper.
Level Four is set in a shopping mall against a hiphop street gang called “The Beasty boys” – no relation to the musical variety?. There is no weapon on this level and your trusty flying kick (which pretty much decimates all your previous opponents) doesn’t work here. From this point onwards you need to employ the “flying kick, land, back kick” technique to scud your opponents.
Also, blocky sprites capture perfectly the expression of a savage pitbull, which you send flying after kicking it in the face, to stop it savaging you.
Level Five is set in a bar and your opponents on this level look like well dressed baldy bouncers. As before, these opponents duck when you attempt a flying kick so “fly kick, land, back kick” routine is needed here again. If they grab you they grapple/headbutt you till you are dead and this is where you need the second player to step in and boot them off of you. Snooker cues are also available to spilt some skulls with.
Finally, you get to face Mr Big and he is exactly what he says on the tin – Big!
This guy attempts to bearhug you to death which he does quite successfully. The only way I could defeat him was to face away and back kick him as he seemed unable to bear hug you if you weren’t facing him.
It sounds a short game and level wise it is, but it still took me two solid hours to play through. It helps if you have a friend to help you – but it can be beaten on one player if you are good. I used to play this one endlessly and its amazing to think such an intricate beat ’em up could be played on the terrible old wobbly kempston joystick. Some of my friends used to do player 2 on the keyboard keys, but I always preferred the Kempston.
It looks a tad bit repetitive and basic now, but that belies what a great game it was when it came out – everyone was playing it. Which such an arsenal of fun moves to exact violence on your opponents you could never get bored.
Renegade had been an excellent game to begin with, Target Renegade improved on it, sadly Renegade III was a big pile of poo – so the trend ended there.
Well worth a shot on a Spectrum Emulator – if anything just to hear the crazy music.
This great site http://www.zxspectrum.net/ plays a huge library of Speccy games via a java script right there on the webpage!
Here is the Spectrum version on Youtube.