Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference

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Salamander (version D)

Salamander (c) 07/1986 Konami.

Salamander is a one or two player sequel to 1985's superb shoot-em-up, "Nemesis". While it retained the same basic gameplay and feel of its predecessor (particularly the superb and innovative weapons system), Salamander featured both superior graphics and a more imaginative approach to level design. The earliest example of the latter appears towards the end of the very first level, in which imposing, organic obstructions grow before the players' eyes. The game's third level - the infamous 'lava' level - is another good example of Salamander's superb design; with huge solar flares constantly erupting both above and below the player's ship that must be carefully navigated to avoid instant loss of life. Salamander introduced further variety to the action with the introduction vertically-scrolling levels, which alternated with the standard side-scrolling levels.

Salamander's weapon power-up system is as follows :

* SPEED UP : Five speed levels.

* MISSILE : Press missile button to launch.

* LASER : Your forward rockets turn into deadly lasers.

* RIPPLE LASER : Use shoot button to fire.

* FORCE FIELD : Protect your ship with barriers.

* MULTIPLE : Increase your fire power by up to four times.

Multiple special powers can be obtained, but the LASER cannot be used in conjunction with the RIPPLE Laser.


Game ID : GX587

Main CPU : 68000

Sound CPU : Z80

Sound Chips : VLM5030, K007232, YM2151

Screen orientation : Horizontal

Video resolution : 256 x 224 pixels

Screen refresh : 60.61 Hz

Palette colors : 2048

Players : 2

Control : 8-way joystick

Buttons : 2


This game is known in US as "Lifeforce", but it was re-released one year later in Japan as "Lifeforce" (06/1987).

Salamander is the game that inspired Ikeda Tsunemoto (Toaplan>Cave) to develop the 'Danmaku'; the shot patterns seen in "Donpachi" et al.

Note : The kanji on the Japanese version title screen actually reads 'Sa Ra Man Da', meaning 'Sand Gauze Wide Snake'. This is an example of 'ateji', where Japanese artists use the phonetic value of a character to fit the game's name allowing them to write the name in kanji as opposed to a kana.

Apollon Music released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Original Sound of Salamander - BY-5020) on 16/12/1986.

King Records released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Salamander - Again : Konami Kukeiha Club - KICA-7601) on 25/05/1992.

Sony Music Entertainment released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Salamander Arcade Soundtrack - KOLA-030) on 09/04/2003.

The story between the different versions of Salamander differs. While the story in the arcade original is not entirely clear, the NES version claims a large creature named Zelos (possibly the serpent often pictured on the game's cover art) is preparing to swallow your planet whole, and you must stop it from the inside out. The US arcade follows primarily the same story. the Japanese LifeForce may have a more surgery-related story, involving the removal of an unwanted virus or microbe from the body. The MSX version of Salamander differs the most from any of these. Basically, a prophecy from long ago comes true when an army attacks Latis and it's surrounding planets. They have created a barrier around Latis, and the only way to undo it is by activating a 'crush below' system created by ancient Latisians.


Salamander, the original Japanese release, was originally a spin-off of "Gradius", but with a simplified power-up system and overhead stages.

Lifeforce, the US release, is just like the Japanese original only with slightly different color palettes.

Lifeforce, the Japanese re-release, has more organic looking graphics and adopts the "Gradius" power-up system.


1. Gradius (1985)

2. Salamander (1986)

3. Gradius 2 (1987, MSX)

4. Gradius II - Gofer no Yabou (1988)

5. Nemesis 3 - The Eve of Destruction (1988, MSX)

6. Gradius III - Densetsu Kara Shinwa-e (1989)

7. Nemesis '90 Kai (1993, Sharp X68000)

8. Salamander 2 (1996)

9. Solar Assault - Gradius (1997)

10. Solar Assault - Revised (1997)

11. Gradius Gaiden (1997, Sony PlayStation)

12. Gradius IV - Fukkatsu (1999)

13. Gradius Generation (2001, Nintendo Game Boy Advance)

14. Gradius V (2004, Sony PlayStation 2)


Game programmers : Hiroyasu Machiguchi, Mitsuo Takemoto, Toshiaki Takahori, Ikuko Minowa

Video graphics designers : Jun Sakurai, Miki Yoshikata, Ikuko Bando

Sound editors : Yoshiaki Hatano, Miki Higashino

Engineer : Yasushi Furukawa


* Consoles :

Nintendo Famicom (1987)

NEC PC-Engine (1991)

Sony PlayStation (1997)

Sega Saturn (1997, "Salamander Deluxe pack Plus")

Sony PSP (2007, "Salamander Portable")

* Computers :

Sharp X68000 (1986)

MSX (1987)

Commodore C64 (1988)

Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1988)

Amstrad CPC (1988)