Taito's Renegade on the NES

By a show of virtual hands, how many of you remember the video game Renegade on the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)?

This was the side-scrolling beat-em-up from Taito that preceded the now legendary Double Dragon franchise of games. It also sparked a whole generation of side-scrolling games, paving the way for titles like Battletoads and X-Men: The Arcade Game. I can’t even begin to fathom how many quarters these kinds of games pulled from my pocket.

The reason why I ask is that I came across an editorial a while ago listing the top non-Nintendo NES games that are still fun to play today. Some more obvious picks, like Blades of Steel and Contra, made the list, but I thought that the omission of Double Dragon was a little curious. I’m not sure if it would be in the top ten, but I really enjoyed Renegade back in the day too. After sending a message to the author of the article, he replied back saying that many of us look at these games through rose-tinted glasses, seeing them as much better than they really are.

To a certain degree, this is probably true. Attending trade shows and conferences like E3 Expo, we have the opportunity to look at the newest and hottest video games. The games that we play today are vastly different from the ones of yesteryear, but it seems that many developers are still trying to tug on our nostalgic heartstrings. How else can you explain the array of Mario games? In like manner, Capcom did a great job with Mega Man 9 on the PlayStation Network (PS3), Xbox Live Arcade (Xbox 360), and Wii Shop (Wii).

The developers take advantage of our rose-tinted glasses, pulling up franchises from our childhood and updating them with new graphics and other innovations. However, if you were to go back to many so-called NES classics, you may find that the gameplay can be remarkably shallow compared to the games of today. No one will tell you that Lethal Enforcers is more complex than Gears of War 2, but does that make it any less fun? Is simple button-mashing enough anymore? Or are games getting too complicated for our own good?

Myself, even though I fully recognize that the gameplay is much more shallow, I still enjoy the classic arcade beat-em-up. That’s partly why I couldn’t wait to buy TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled on the Xbox Live Arcade (you can find me under the Gamertag HadoukenOnline), even though it is little more than an old game with new visuals. There’s nothing wrong with playing older games if they’re still fun. Isn’t that all that matters?

Do you find that you look at the classics through rose-tinted glasses too? This applies not only to the realm of video games. Let’s not forget about the rosy views we may have of older movies, music, books, TV shows, and even board games.