Not a massively early version as such, but contributor Bruce Coates has highlighted that the Commodore User review of Target Renegade seems to have the baseball bat as a weapon in the other levels in the game.
In the version released, it seems that you can only pick up a baseball bat on the first level – and such pick ups don’t exist from that point on. In the CU review, there is even suggestion of being able to pick up a stick as a dropped weapon.
Did Commodore User have an earlier version, or did they perhaps have some kind of cheat mode to activate the bat to make it easier to play through? Perhaps there is something tucked away in the code still waiting to be unlocked?
Well the key thing to note is that in all the screenshots have “Level 1” on all of them. There is a raster glitch just above the score, the energy/face panel is slightly different. Also on the Level 2 characters, it seems you get two the same, rather than a mix of the two enemies. Finally, there is no message such as “Go to the lift” or “Good luck!” like in the final game. So we think CU had an earlier build reviewed.
It would be great to find this earlier build to play and see if there are any more differences, though it is likely to be long gone now.
With thanks to Bruce Coates for highlighting and Stephen Stuttard for the hi-res scans.