Your Sinclair

Target: Renegade

Author: David McCandless
Publisher: Imagine
Machine: Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Your Sinclair #31

Target: Renegade

I'm not really a sadistic, l-luv-violence sort of person. Honest! You don't believe me? Yeah? Fight 'bout it? You come 'ere an' say dat! Anyday, mate! Ahem, well okay, I like vapourising the odd bug-eyed extra-terrestrial on my birthday, and, yes, I suppose I'm a martial-arts freak, but I tell ya, no matter how pacifistic, wimpy or down-right chicken you are, Target: Renegade will awaken your most primeval instincts and have you drooling in violent ecstasy.

Scumville (sounds like a nice place), is a corrupt city, so corrupt in fact that even Guinness share-holders wouldn't touch it with a transatlantic cable. It's ruled by the modestly named gangster, Mr. Big (in the interest of good taste, I have omitted all "big parts of anatomy" jokes here). Your brother, Matt, obviously a suicidal cabbage-head, thought he'd investigate the malignant machinations (and bad alliterations), of Mr Big. Surprise! Surprise! Matt was later found underwater still wearing his trendy concrete Espadrilles, and you, Renegade, have only one thing on your mind - vengeance.

Since his last excursion, Renegade has grown up - he's taller now and glides smoothly over the screen like Wacko Jacko himself. Unfortunately, his numerous antagonists have also been at the steroids and are bigger, eviler, seedier and badder than ever before - and they get harder and harder (oo-er) to beat. From prostitutes to punks, breakdancers to bodyguards - all slide out to take turns in pulping you.

Target: Renegade

In this sequel, there are five loadable rough-tough, smelly city parts - the multi-storey car park, the street at night, the park, the shopping mall, and ultimately Mr. Big's bar. Each has its own selection of burly, brick wall types (you know them, all weight-lifting and no conversation), who crowd in and attack you from all sides with punches, kicks or blunt instruments. All knock you dribbling to the floor and chop off a chunk of your energy.

To defend yourself, you have a simple, manageable range of karate moves. There's no "Oh-no! I've used the spinning front snap telescopic groin kick, instead of the jumping rotating side thrust punch!" - the moves are easy and effective. Foremost is the beautiful flying kick, then there's an elegant back-kick, followed by punches and the eye-wateringly realistic knee-in groin move.

Graphic variation in a game like this is obviously limited, but Dawn Drake's design of the enemy is brilliant and actually has character. Spiky-haired punks, stiletto-heeled ladies of the night, and bulbous gnashing dogs, to name but some, must be reduced to recumbent bruises before you can progress. The five backdrops however are a bit primitive and stark, except for the park which has some excellently designed trees, but gameplay is so fierce you rarely notice.

Target: Renegade

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you could be moaning, so what's new? - I've seen all this before in Renegade. Well quit moaning, you stroppy wimp (to coin one of my mother's eloquent phrases} There's a splattering of special snazzy features that'll throw the original into the shade.

For instance, you can now use weapons (axes, sledgehammers etc obtained by downing its owner), to batter your assailent into aqueous beetroot. But there's no way of knowing they're dead. So, you may scream "Hah-hah! Liquidized you, you punk!" - but boing! up jumps Mr. Punk and nuts Mr. Renegade, Concrete head syndrome I call it.

The new two player option is fun - jumping about all over the screen, bluntly kicking anything and everything including your fellow player. Unfortunately, double players means double enemies, and the play hots up accordingly.

Target: Renegade

Anyway, the attraction of Target: Renegade is that it appeals to our more violent instincts and is wholly satisfying when you perform an exquisite flying kick and bash that punk into the pavement. It's addictively addictive and Mike Lamb has done a job and three quarters in coding it. Does the play ooze as several thousand breakdancers converge on you? Do you flicker when moving at high speed to dodge a bullet? Not a chance mate - find a fault and win a fiver (That's a rhetorical question, by the way!).

Difficulty, I think, is slightly unbalanced. I cruised through to level three and then suddenly level four punched me in the stomach and I couldn't get any further. But it just adds to the addictiveness.

The greatest beat-'em-up to date? Yep. Graphically yum-yum, deliciously playable, succulently addictive - a game connoisseur's delight.

David McCandless

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