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Article 48—AMERICAN TECHNOS THE RENEGADES FLYER (1991)

Click to View: Flyer

Technos is not exactly a household name...but man, it ought to be. The company was a pioneer in several different game genres, having developed some of the earliest and most influential one-on-one fighting games (Karate Champ), wrestling games (Tag Team Wrestling, Mat Mania) and side-scrolling beat-’em-ups (Renegade, Double Dragon) in the arcades. It also scored a number of cult hits for the Nintendo
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Entertainment system, including Super Dodge Ball, River City Ransom and several of the aforementioned arcade games in cartridge form.

Another of Technos’ overlooked talents was its skill at localizing its games, altering the graphics and sounds of the Japanese originals to make them more suitable for American and European audiences. One of the most extreme examples of this treatment was Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun: Bangai Rantou Hen, a side-scrolling beat-’em-up for the Game Boy. Like the rest of the games in the Kunio-kun series, it featured “hot blooded” high schoolers with big, square heads
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beating each other senseless with their big, square fists. By the time it appeared in the U.S. in 1991, the game had more realistically proportioned characters, grittier background scenery, a new musical score and a new title: Double Dragon II.

If it seems cheesy that a game from one series would be passed off as the latest chapter in a completely different series, remember that this kind of thing happened repeatedly on the Game Boy platform. The publisher of Ninja Gaiden acquired the Game Boy version of a competing ninja game (Shadow of the Ninja) and released it as Ninja Gaiden Shadow. A Bomberman game was recast in the U.S. as a new entry in the Blaster Master series. The first game in the SaGa series was released here under the Final Fantasy brand.

The Double Dragon universe would eventually be integrated with the Kunio-kun series, with characters from the former appearing repeatedly in the latter. So when Acclaim acquired the rights to publish Double Dragon II: The Revenge for the NES in North America, and was looking for a Game Boy version to sell, it wasn’t much of a stretch for
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Technos to change an existing Kunio-kun game into a “new” Double Dragon game.

But there’s a twist to this story, a secret revealed in the trade show flyer I’ve linked above. Before Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun: Bangai Rantou Hen was retooled as Double Dragon II, Technos had already converted the game into a two-player Renegade sequel called The Renegades, to be released by its own American subsidiary. The screen shot is strangely cropped, but it’s obvious that most of the changes were already in place when the flyer was distributed at the Consumer Electronics Show...including the storyline. (Fans of Double Dragon minutae have always been confused by the passing reference to a character named “Wright” in the introductory scenes of Double Dragon II; the flyer makes it clear that this reference was a leftover plot device from The Renegades.)

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When Acclaim came a-knockin’, The Renegades became Double Dragon II with just a few more minor tweaks. If you compare the final game to the screen shot on the flyer, you can see how easy it was to change the protagonist from a Renegade-style character to one of the Lee brothers from Double Dragon: Put some boots on him, change his martial-arts mullet to something more like a pompadour and voilà!

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© 2014 Chris Bieniek. Certain video game images, characters and logos on this Web site are copyrighted or trademarked by their respective publishers.