A classic NES shooter... albeit poorly described by the titles "Life Force" and "Salamander"
Check out the website: http://letsplay1001.com/
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GamingJay1001
Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GamingJay1001
Check out the book: http://www.amazon.com/1001-Video-Games-Must-Before/dp/0789320908
I'm Gaming Jay: Youtube gamer, let's player, fan of retro games, and determined optimist... Join me in this series while I try out EACH of the video games in the book 1001 VIDEO GAMES YOU MUST PLAY BEFORE YOU DIE, before I die. The game review for each game will focus on the question of whether you MUST play this game before you die. But to be honest, the game review parts are just for fun, and are not meant to be definitive, in depth reviews; this series is more about the YouTube gamer journey itself. From Mario games to the Halo series, from arcade games to Commodore 64, PC games to the NES and Sega Genesis, Playstation to the Xbox, let's play those classic retro games that we grew up with, have fond memories of, or heard of but never got a chance to try! And with that said, the game review for today is...
Life Force / Salamander
Salamander (沙羅曼蛇 / サラマンダ Saramanda?), retitled Life Force (ライフフォース Raifu Fōsu?) in North America and in the Japanese arcade re-release, is a scrolling shooter arcade game by Konami. Released in 1986 as a spin-off of Gradius, Salamander introduced a simplified power-up system, two-player cooperative gameplay and both horizontally and vertically scrolling stages. Some of these later became the norm for future Gradius games.
The first player controls Vic Viper and the second player takes the reins of debuting spacecraft Lord British, which is sometimes referred to as "Road British" due to the ambiguity of Japanese-to-English romanization. The game features six stages which alter between horizontal and vertical scrolling.
Players are allowed to continue from where they leave upon death instead of being returned to a predefined checkpoint as per Gradius tradition. There are no continues in Salamander's single player mode; however, in the two-player mode, players are given two continues. The number of continues can be changed through DIP switches. The player gains power-ups by picking up capsules left behind by certain enemies, as opposed to the selection bar used in other Gradius titles. However, the Japanese version of Life Force keeps the selection bar.
Many of the power-ups can be combined. For example, an option fires a second (or third) salvo of missiles or ripple/plutonic lasers if these power-ups have been option. The ripple and laser, however, are mutually exclusive. The only power-up that can survive the ship's destruction are the options. Upon the ship's destruction, the options float in space for a brief time before disappearing; the new ship can grab and retain them if they get to them first.
The arcade version of the game was released under its original title in Japan (version J) and Europe (version D) and as Life Force in North America. The Japanese and European versions are nearly identical, but the American version changes the game's plot by adding an opening text that establishes the game to be set inside a giant alien life-form which is infected by a strain of bacteria. Stages that featured starfield backgrounds had them changed with the web background from Stage 1 to maintain consistency with the organic setting of the plot. The power-ups are also given different names, with the "Speed-Up" becoming "Hyper Speed", the "Missile" becoming the "Destruct Missile", the "Ripple Laser" becoming the "Pulse Laser" and "Force Field" becoming the "Shield". Voiceovers are added to the beginning of each stage, detailing the area of the alien's body which the player is currently inhabiting (i.e. "Enter stomach muscle zone", "Bio-mechanical brain attack", and so on).
Konami later released an enhanced version of Salamander in Japan in 1987 bearing the American title of Life Force which further fleshes out the organic motif. All of the backgrounds and mechanical enemies are completely redrawn and given organic appearances. The power-up system was also modified, with the Japanese Life Force using the same power-up gauge as the original Gradius. Some music tracks have been completely changed for this release and the power-up gauge is arranged differently for both players.