Salamander is a classic scrolling shoot 'em up game, released in 1986 by Konami for the arcades as a spin-off to Gradius series. The game introduced a simplified power-up system, two-players cooperative gameplay and both horizontal and vertical scrolling stages. It was initially ported to the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum in 1986, and a year later to the MSX2 computers. A console version also came out for the PC Engine and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
STORY / GAMEPLAY In a distant part of the universe named Latis system, an alien gigantic creature called Zelos is born. As Zelos was growing up so did his...appetite and soon he began devouring galaxies, planets and stars! Now your planet is at Zelos' path and it is up to you (and a partner) to battle and save your world in planet Nemesis after the Emperor ordered you to fly towards the Latis system and repel the invaders (and Zelos himself). Salamander is an action packed shoot 'em up game with horizontal or vertical scrolling stages. All stages are swarmed heavily by alien formations, asteroids, living rocks ground troops and more other hazards along your flight, such as laser barriers, laser turrets etc which will try to put an end to your struggle. Hopefully there are several power-ups to collect (as "E" capsules by destroying certain enemies) along your journey offering extra speed, bombs, ripple lasers, multiple lasers and force shields (activated by pressing the M button on your keyboard). Note that the MSX version offers levels notably longer than the arcade original, while you're forced to start from a predefined checkpoint when shot down. Overall
GRAPHICS / SOUND The Commodore 64 version looks nice, with fast scrolling and smoothly moving sprites. Graphics are fine, and it is obvious that a great deal of care and attention has been taken over them. The C64 version is no exception here! This is a pretty faithful conversion with great graphics and plenty of colors (limited to the C64 palette). As expected though, some of the original background details are missing but that doesn't affect the game negatively. Note that the C64 version is more playable when compared to the other 8bit conversions, but misses two of the six stages. Sound effects and music are similarly effective. The music here is excellent, and the effects are solid laser-shots fulfilling their purpose, but doing little to enhance the game.