Salamander, retitled Life Force 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 to 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. Salamander was followed with an official sequel in 1996 entitled Salamander 2.
In the game the first player controls Vic Viper and the second player takes the reins of debuting spacecraft Lord British, which is sometimes referred 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 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.
Salamander was ported to the Family Computer in Japan in 1987. Instead of being a direct port of Salamander, elements were taken from the original Salamander and the Japanese Life Force re-release, and some elements, such as levels and bosses, were removed to make way for new content. Most of the background graphics and enemy sprites from Salamander, however, are used in favor of those used in Life Force, though the Gradius-style power bar is used in place of the original instant pick-up system. The same year, North America received a port as well for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES version is practically identical to its Famicom equivalent, other than not having the multiple endings, having two option power ups instead of three, and being titled Life Force.
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