RENEGADE / Technos / Arcade
Renegade was actually the first game in the Nekketsu High (River City Ransom) series ... at least in Japan. In the original Japanese release you were in control of the typical slouching "yankii" punks, fighting other schoolboys to be the baddest in the prefecture or whatever. Technos worried that would be too culturally alien for the U.S., though, so they totally re-skinned the game as Renegade.
In this version, it's that wonderful vision of New York that so many Japanese game designers had in the 80s/early 90s thanks apparently to watching The Warriors and other 70s exploitation flicks. The Punks are rampant, crime and mohawks rule the streets, basically it's a white version of modern Detroit. I keed, I keed. Don't turn me in to the SJW Brownshirts.
It's actually an early version of the engine that would go on to be used less than a year later in Double Dragon. At this point you can see a lot of similarities, but the animations for grapple moves aren't as good. There are a couple of neat features that didn't make it to Double Dragon, like you can swing and kick enemies when they grab you from behind, and it uses that "one attack button for each direction" style that wouldn't be brought back until Double Dragon 2 on the NES.
What makes it worse than Double Dragon isn't that the engine is significantly more primitive, but that you're chucked into arenas full of enemies rather than scrolling through manageably small groups in levels, and it's just too overwhelming. First of all, the game slows down with multiple characters on the screen, so it runs at about 75% speed from the start of the level until you kill 3 or 4 punks off. There's a boss character hanging out in each level, and things are manageable until he runs in, but once he does it's all over. Either he quickly backshoots you while you're trying to clean up generic punks, or if you engage him he turtles and you get eviscerated by the long-range stick guys. Your jump kick move never seems to work, and you can't seem to pick up enemy weapons in this one and they get them back instantly without an animation when they walk over them.
With only one life and no continues, good luck getting anywhere with this game. Hell, good luck getting past the first level. Also, no clue why someone's grandma yells "get lost punk" at you when you die.
* Gameplay Video