Life Force: Salamander - Nintendo NES
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Life Force (Salamander)

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Release year: 1986 | Players: 1-2 players | Developed by Konami

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There’s something enigmatic about a snake in the space, all aflame, and directly staring at you. You’ll immediately know it’s going to be a fun ride. Well, that’s not actually a snake but a Salamander, the game’s original name when it was released in Japan before being re-baptized as Life Force: Salamander (AKA 沙羅曼蛇 / サラマンダ Saramanda) when it hit US shores.

The game’s plot starts with an alien fiend named Zelos who has vowed to consume all galaxies crossing its path. It’s up to the ships Vic Viper and Lord British to play through the monster’s innards and blow all those alien foes to smithereens.

Life Force: Salamander NES Online

Life Force (Salamander) Cover (NES)

The game is Gradius spinoff, which is one of game developer Konami’s best-selling franchises. The main differences are that you can have a buddy play alongside you, horizontal and vertical scrolling stages, and a simpler system for powering up.

Konami may not be known to come up with a lot of shooters but they can be proud that Life Force: Salamander is one of the best during that era. Varieties abound in both enemies and backgrounds which keep the game interesting up until the end, if you have what it takes to get there.

Life Force has very impressive graphics for an NES game at that time. You can see the details of each stage as well as the smooth animation of the enemy ships. Graphics wise, this game will not disappoint.

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Even better effects like crumbling walls and tearing flames as you reach the climax. The bosses themselves are not pushovers with powerful attacks and great designs.

With a catchy and upbeat tune, Life Force: Salamander sets up the pace of the game and the mood of the player nicely. The sound department really pushed the envelopes of NES’s sound chip this time around with eerily orchestrated background music and crystal clear sound effects. The game is full of music and effects that will repeat over and over again inside your head even when you’ve stopped playing.

This is a worthy game for all shoot ’em up gamers out there. It challenges you enough but it’s not stupidly difficult. If you are to play one Gradius game from the series, this one is highly recommended.

Life Force: Salamander game has been ported to Arcade, NES (this version, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, MSX, PC Engine, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, iOS.