Review: Super Renegade Response

Spy Hunter was a childhood favorite of mine on the NES. The Peter Gunn theme fit the action so well, and it was a simple song for a kid to have stuck in his head, and drive a parent nuts with by humming. Super Renegade Response swaps out ’60s TV show music for a loving homage to an ’80s classic in Miami Vice with its title screen, while the gameplay itself pays homage to Spy Hunter. The OUYA is a hotbed for games that are full of passion, even if they’ve got some rough edges, and that description fits this game very well.

Super Renegade Response puts you in a cop role with somewhat limited resources. There are no vans to drive into to boost your skills and no machine guns or oil slicks — it’s just you relying on your driving skills to avoid cars, picking up a Rubik’s cube so giant “RAD” text pops up, extending your time with comedy ACME weights, and occasional shooting. The shooting sections are all setup with you having things flung at you. You can either be a pacifist and wait for their destruction via  traffic, or just shoot the daylights out of them to survive. The action is fast, which is both good and bad depending on the sheer amount of things going on.

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Super Renegade Response features tons of traffic in your path and adds some gasoline to that fire by literally throwing cars into your path. It’s a bit too crazy, and since it’s going for an arcade vibe, there aren’t any saves — when you run out of time, you start from the beginning. This means that you’ll either get really good fairly quickly, or you’ll wind up getting frustrated. However, the game does teach you how to best play the game thanks to its pre-game screen showing you the controls. It’s easy to miss, but there’s a brake button that turns the game from a speedy mess into a manageable one. It still has  steep learning curve, but it can be overcome with careful timing. Sometimes, you’ll want to keep the speed at the game’s default, while speeding through can allow you to bypass a pack of cars, and slowing down gives you time to avoid cars spinning towards you.

That aspect of the control setup is nice. I also like that if you want a simpler approach, you can have one to simulate a NES button-limited experience. One thing I don’t like is how the d-pad or left stick can sometimes simply not respond after a crash. You lose a second or so for each one, and you need precise controls for that to put yourself exactly where you want to be. Failing to do so can put you right in the path of a car or a billboard, and that will result in yet another crash and more lost time. If the game decides to not register your movements, then you’re out of luck there and just have to hope to do well enough to win anyway. It’s a shame this issue is here because the controls are fairly responsive otherwise.

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Visually, Super Renegade Response fits the Spy Hunter mold fairly well. There’s a definite 8-bit inspiration going on here, but without the flicker that would have certainly populated a game with this much going on. The roads and buildings have a simplistic color scheme, while the cars themselves have more of a 16-bit look to them. There are even cute little touches like a crash resulting in a car putting its hazard lights on and coming to a full stop. The HUD is a little bit large, and the green can blend in with the environment, but it does relay all of the key information quickly. You’ll know the time you have left, your score now, your highest score, and see how much of a stage you’ve beaten with a quick glance. Of course, since the game moves so fast, you really can’t gleam all of that information at once, so you’ve got to go bit by bit or just choose to focus on your time — which is probably your best bet since that’s the only stat that really matters in the game.

The OUYA’s tight-knit community came together to help Monster Finger Games with the sound effects. Various OUYA Forum members contributed voices, and while that’s a fantastic gesture, the end result is some voice work that doesn’t sound all that good due to the actors not being professionals and the recording equipment being fairly poor and not cleaned up. However, it does give the game a B-movie charm it would otherwise lack, and since those were another ’80s staple, it actually benefits the game to some degree. What doesn’t help the game is the looping soundtrack. There isn’t much variety with the music, and what few tracks are here get looped frequently with an immediate change from one song to the next and no wait in-between. This change winds up being fairly jarring, and when combined with the other audio issues, results in a recommendation to mute the audio if it isn’t to your liking and put on some other  music in the background. The Peter Gunn theme would be a fine choice, or if you’d like to further the cop motif and throw on something from Miami Vice, go ahead.

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Closing Comments:

Those who love Spy Hunter and ’80s styling will enjoy Super Renegade Response, but everybody else will have a hard time overlooking its shortcomings. The graphics are mostly pleasing, but the sound design drags things down. The soundtrack is limited and poorly-looped, while the voice acting is done by OUYA fans. Fun as it may be, Super Renegade Response has some major rough edges that need to be worked out.

3outof5Version Reviewed: Ouya