Wednesday, June 10, 2009



It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of most of Konami's space shooters--I was one of the few people disappointed with the ballyhooed Gradius II--but I actually love this one. It's fast and exciting (the majority of the others are neither), and it transitions from sidescrolling to vertical stages in seamless fashion, successfully incorporating variety lacking in its one-track-mind peers. It employs a nice, normal nab-the-icon-and-enjoy-the-upgrade power-up system (rather than Gradius' "innovative" bars-at-the-bottom nonsense) and fair checkpoints that let you come up with strategies to get by rather than simply requiring you to get lucky.

While some other players revel in the purported delights offered by the aforementioned Gradius II, I utilize that clunker as an object of comparison when extolling Salamander's many positive traits. Considering the conglomerate of orange balls and worms that are the predominant elements of G2's fiery first stage only makes the raging flames and fire hawks of Salamander's "BURNING CHAOS" level seem all the more impressive. Memories of G2's Stage 3, which has you methodically bust up crawling, crumbling crap chunks and evade pellet shots, serve to accentuate the awesomeness of Salamander's "ASTEROID HELL" area, which places you under extremely heavy enemy fire amid a veritable storm of stone.

While Gradius II's "thrilling" conclusion involves a "joke" boss that merely sits there as you batter it, Salamander's final stretch comprises a daring escape from the enemy base in the form of a tight, exciting speed run.

You duel with many of the same bosses in Salamander as you do during Gradius II's gauntlet stage, but here they actually go for the kill, and there's no goofy pharoah head to deal with. (Okay, so that fool isn't in Gradius II, but whatever.)

Salamander is a fairly short game at six levels, but I think that's a good thing. Gradius II is long and slow, and as a result, I feel like I'm being hit over the head with its antiquity, as its many levels employ one tired concept after another. Salamander is brief and exciting, and at no point do I even consider that the game is rather archaic visually. I just have a blast with it.

And no matter how many times you've heard it and how many lesser games it's appeared in, the Salamander boss music will always rule. Always.

1 comment :

chipperkwah said...

I've always wanted to play Salamander! This review was sicker than twelve tits.

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