Publisher: The Hit Squad
Machine: Commodore 64/128

Published in Zzap #66


Salamander comes from the days with arcade games were original and imaginative, an all-time classic which was one of the first to introduce pick-up capsules to increase firepower. It's one of the Welshman's favourite games, but since he's off on his saucy holds with Blodwyn, it's up to me to rave about this superb Ocean conversion!

The complex Japanese plot involves the five planets of the Latis system. Their ancient civilisation was able to look into the future and predict its annihilation at the hands of the forces of Salamander. Once again, a single pilot with three ships (or lives), must take on a massive alien force. The Salamander's forces are spread over four levels in the conversion (rather than five in the coin-op), but each level is made up of several different landscapes. What's more, while most of the levels are horizontally scrolling, level two scrolls vertically!

At the end of each level there's a mega-monster, but other monsters are just as impressive: such as massive gnashing teeth, beautiful jumping flames on the volcano level, large swinging arms and self-healing walls!


There's also wave after wave of enemy ships, some of which drop a pick-up capsule when destroyed. These capsules can provide a shield, triple-fire, speed-up, missiles, up to three multiples to follow you around and much more.

Back in Zzap 41, Salamander earned a Sizzler with Gordon Houghton saying "The graphic definition is as close to the arcades as you could get on a C64, and is matched by slick sprite movement across detailed, smooth-scrolling backgrounds... easily the best progressive shoot-'em-up I've ever played." Matt Evans agreed: "It has gorgeous graphics, is astoundingly addictive, and is destined to become another classic C64 shoot-'em-up."

Almost two years later, the game still astonishes with its graphic brilliance - comparing well to Blood Money - and superlative playability. The only slight drawback is the multi-load (it can obviously be frustrating dying on the first bullet of level two!), but at this price this superb game simply cannot be missed.