While digital distribution is standard now there was a time way back before Steam, Itchi.io, GOG, or any of the other digital storefronts. It was unquestionably messy to only be able to get a game from its home page, but despite rumors to the contrary there was still plenty worth looking at even back in the dusty old days of 2001. Cho Ren Sha 68K was a freeware arcade shooter originally released for the Sharp X68000 in 1995 but the PC version from 2001 was the version most people on this side of the Pacific got to play. After an update in 2005 to add a Hard mode it just kind of sat there, with each successive generation of Windows making it a bit trickier to get running. Twelve years since the last revision, though, a new update has been released, adding native support for Windows 10 and allowing anyone who wants it easy access to this freeware classic.
Cho Ren Sha 68K is an arcade vertical shooter that strips away all excesses and focuses specifically on the action. It’s a little basic in its attack patterns, generally tossing out three to four waves of similar enemy types in a row, but the ship designs look great and they fire on you in a good number of interesting ways so that’s hardly a problem. There are only three types of powerup available, but carriers drop all three at once and you can either play it safe, snagging either a shield, bomb, or shot enhancer, or try to fly to the middle of the powerup triangle and sit there for about two seconds to snag all three. Or, more likely, accidentally plow into a random one and take whatever it is. It’s a risk, but pays out nicely when you get the hang of it. Cho Ren Sha 68K may not be the fanciest shooter out there but it nails that classic feel and is one great encounter after another, so it’s well worth taking a trip back to 2001 and checking out one of the greats.
Cho Ren Sha 68K is available at its home page in all four versions, including the original X68000 version is you happen to have that machine kicking around somewhere. For the rest of us, however, Ver.2017/05/23 would be the way to go.