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Salamander Infects Japanese Arcades – Today in Retro Gaming – July 4th, 1986

Retitled “Life Force” when released in North America a few months later, Salamander was iconic for gamers.  First, this was a spinoff of another Konami arcade shooter- Gradius.  We all know how well spinoff titles usually do in gaming so it is rather interesting that Salamander was able to buck the trend.  Can anyone name the two ships that are available in Salamander?

Featuring six stages that alternate between side scrolling and overhead scrolling, Salamander tests your mettle.  Another iconic shooter from around this period used a similar level layout, Thunder Force II.  This is no short romp through space, oh no, back in the 80’s Konami knew how to make tough shooters.  Take the fire level where giant flaming creatures burst out of the flames with very little notice.  Focus on the wrong part of the screen, say the enemies coming at you already, and you will find yourself losing a life rather quickly to these surprisingly fast creatures.

Interestingly, when Salamander was released in North America it was changed quite a bit.  The setting was taken to the innards of a giant space creature.  Backgrounds, enemies and such were reworked visually to match a more organic style.  There was also a bit of text at the beginning that set the storyline up.  Konami even changed the names of the power ups in Life Force.  That is rather strange.  Konami felt that North American gamers would rather blow up a living creature in space than fight an authentic menace from the stars.  Rather telling of the view of North American gamers around this time.

Salamander has been released for a ton of platforms including:

Amstrad CPC
Commodore 64
Mobile phones
Nintendo Entertainment System
PC Engine
Playstation 4
Playstation Portable
Sega Saturn
ZX Spectrum

Too bad this Konami is now dead to their fans.  It would be awesome to see a new version of Salamander released.

Carl Williams

It is time gaming journalism takes its rightful place as proper sources and not fanboys giving free advertising. If you wish to support writers like Carl please use the links below.

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One Response to “Salamander Infects Japanese Arcades – Today in Retro Gaming – July 4th, 1986”

  1. YOUDIEMOFO says:

    Bad Ass!.!.! Don’t forget about the cheat for…..(was it 30 lives?!?), or something. “Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, B, A, Select, Start! Good old Konami cheats!!

    And best said from you Carl….! “Too bad this Konami is now dead to their fans. It would be awesome to see a new version of Salamander released.” “To bad it is good sir!!”

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