Cho Ren Sha 68k - Famibe No Yosshin

Cho Ren Sha 68k

Famibe No Yosshin - PC

Reviewed by Skinnytie

Graphics: 60%
Sound: 90%
Gameplay: 90%
overall: 85%

There are SHMUPS, and then there are poofy 3d sparkle-bunny bs mindless shooters. Cho Ren Sha 68k is a card carrying member of the SHMUPS club, albeit a bit stark and to the point.

One of the first things you'll notice when playing CRS 68k is the fact that there is really only one stage. Though you fight bosses and encounter more and deadlier enemies, the background over which you are flying while blowing everything to bits never changes, only whizzes by. At first, this annoyed the piss out of me. It wasn't until I defeated the final boss that I realized that this is, in fact, a keen idea that kept me playing after winning once. More on that in a bit...

You start the game at the tail end of some huge explosion. It is a good way to get you into the game, I think. You have a good 20 seconds to get used to the feel of the ship and the rate of fire and the like. CRS 68k is an intermittent SHMUP - you have to repeatedly hit the fire button to get a continuous stream of ordinance - and it is good to have a few seconds to figure this stuff out. Right from the get-go come the nasties ready to shred your metal.

From here, it is mainly hundreds (yes, hundreds) of artfully programmed wing formations (with the occasional mini-boss) per stage, each stage ending in a main boss. Not very new and different yet, right? Well, it doesn't get new and different. Not at all. Though you might think that this is a failing, I disagree - this is where and how the game shines!

Where some SHMUPS try to invent new an improved play mechanics, CRS 68k just polishes tried and true methods to a tasty luster. No, you won't be measuring your "scrap" level, or juggling "RGB" levels or choosing one of 50 power-up classes because you feel like lightning Tuesdays. This is a meat and potatoes, balls out classic style SHMUP with a few surprises, but nothing that will have you calling mum on the phone because you are out of clean underwear.

Your weapon, a green and yellow tri-blaster, can be upgraded 5 times. Each p-up will add another shot and, after 3, double the rate at which you fire them. At max power, your tri-blaster will be able to nearly touch either top corner of the screen if you fire from the bottom center. Along with your blasters, you come equipped with 3 full screen bombers. You can carry a max of five, so I am lead to question the dude who equipped your ship before you left for battle. As well, you can obtain a shield which will protect you from one hit and explode on contact with enemy fire, wiping most in your area of the screen with it. These three items, p-ups, bombers and shields are your bread and butter.

You need them if you want to live, and you are going to have to chose which one is most important to you and when, because the enemy ship you tank that carries them only carries all three - and you can only choose one. That is the strategy, fellas; You can pick the p-up, the bomb or the shield. Once you chose, the others magically disappear.

This might not sound like a huge deal, but when the screen is inundated with fighters and their subsequent artillery and you are at p-level 2 with one bomb and no shield the choice will oft-times decide the game.

With the simple, yet effective, item enigma out of the way lets move to enemies. I must say, CRS 68k shines brightest in the area of enemy wing formations, interactions and waypointing. When there is a huge enemy, you had better be sure there will be 30 little bastards at the other side of the screen making sure you can't outrun his massive fire.

The thought put into the enemy formations was obviously the main concern of the programmer, because not only do they work well on their own, they work strikingly well together.

Another example: there are ships whose primary fire is a volley of dual extra long lasers. If you want to do them in you've got to be in the center, right between the lasers. This is simple enough, but when do you encounter these droogs? That's right - right when there are 3 dudes whose attack is to spill a ton of shrapnel you need to dodge at you.

This, effectively, locks you in and keeps you in while you are killed. You can either try to dodge and hit the lasers, or stay put and be made into Nordic cheese. There are occasions in this game wherein I had to pause and look at the trickery and ingenuity packed into this little shooter. This is the reason to play. And you will play hard, I promise.

The sound design was nothing special. A few of the larger sound effects are really top notch, but most of the standard ships blow up with the same sound. That is totally alright, though, because the music is spot on. It is the perfect mix of old style Raiden tunes and Rockman (Mega Man for the US types) music. Each stage song is a true song in both length and progression.

I was really impressed with how well the pacing of the music kept the onscreen action feeling fresh and addictive. Each stage song fits the stage very well, and each stage reflects the music. The faster the tunes, the more enemies. Well thought out, seriously.

The gameplay is, as well, spot on. You and I, we are good at these games. No doubt about it. That's why you are here reading this review, and I am here writing it. You wouldn't be on the net right now searching for some home-grown Japanese shooter game that would fit on a floppy disk if you weren't an up-scale member of the ass kickers club, right?

Hell, you wouldn't even know what a SHMUP was if you hadn't grown up with them. Ok. So we rock. You and I are the dog痴 balls. We rock the Kasbah. All your base are belong to us. You and I set us up the bomb, right? Well, you are going to get your ass kicked come level 5, young [wo]man, and I'm not going to be there to help you because I will be busy wiping my face off the pavement.

The hit scanning is sexy. You can be grazed and still live, you need to take a real hit before you bite it. This comes in hella-handy when there are 300 bits of firepower all around and you need to do some touch-tap-dodging.

Pros: *Great* formation mapping and enemy interaction. Some of the best I've ever seen. Amazing music. Nice strategy.

Cons: No indicator for p-up level (so you might pick up a few p-ups that give you points only until you get a hang of the scheme). Graphics are old-school. Sounds are a bit lacking.

Secret: The trick is... You are fighting on the outside of a giant ring! The reason the background doesn't change is that you are going around a huge bit of cylinder. When you get to the final boss, and blow him up, you are right back where you started. You take up level one again, from the huge explosion from the beginning. The game never ends. Each time you beat it, it gets progressivly harder. As well, the wins are indicated in the high-scores, so you can show off.


The game starts with a huge explosion... A bit of enigmatic foreshadowing.

(this is as dramatic as it gets, folks)

You start with a puny triple blaster.
One green shot and two yellow,
I'm not sure if they are different strengths, though.

A Haiku:
my weapon is weak
one green, the other yellow
I need power-ups




Strategy: Do I want the power-up, the shield or the bomb? You only get to choose one, kid.

They sure make 'em big wherever I happen to be flying just now.




My blasters at full power.
... sexy ...

The win screen:
Just at dry as the title,
but it gets the job done.



You think this guy is big? Wait until there are 6 of them on the screen with you...

The number of enemies on screen gets to be pretty crazy at times. This is only just the beginning...




Boss #2 with no wings: pussycat

Boss #2 with huge wings and missles: [eats head]




The formations that the enemy attacks in are very well thought out. Rarely will one enemies' attack not work with the others on screen.

The formations that the enemy attacks in are very well thought out. Rarely will one enemies' attack not work with the others on screen.



Final thoughts: This game rocks. It is for hardcore SHMUPS fans only, though, as the casual player might become bored with the background and will have a hard time getting past the third stage.

MALC: Thanks for that Mr Skinnytie, another better late than never review up! I always liked Cho Ren Sha as it was very much like a fan produced Toaplan title, there's a lot of similarities there. I do remember reading somewhere a long time ago that the author was definitely influenced by Toaplan shmups. Can't find any reference to it now though.

TOP | HOME   © 1997 - 2010  Malcolm Laurie