C&VG


Salamander
By Imagine
Commodore 64/128

 
Published in Computer & Video Games #82

Salamander

Salamander is, of course, the sequel to the coin-op Nemesis, and all the same elements are there; special weapons, attacking aliens, huge mutations, hostile environments. But then, you could say that about I.O., Slapfight, R-Type and dozens of others...

Still, Salamander is a classy conversion of the coin-op. The most impressive bit (apart from the non-stop funky music and sound effects) is the way in which the sprite routines have been fiddled to give squillions of objects dashing around the screen at the same time.

Admittedly, most of them are missiles, but to keep everything going without loss of speed at even the hairiest moments is a great achievement (and one which I.O. can't boast!)

Salamander

Most of Salamander is a horizontally-scrolling format, though on some levels there are vertically-scrolling sections. One or two players can compete, flying through the six levels which take you over the surface of the planet Latis, through an asteroid storm, over a volcanic landscape, through a mechanoid base, through sub-space, and finally to the final fortress level.

Control of the ship, which is smaller than the one in Nemesis, is pretty smooth. As you'd expect, if you can destroy a whole flight of aliens, they leave behind a weapon pod which you fly over to pick up. Features include speed-ups, whirling laser pods, two-way and three-way lasers, and spinning energy bolts. Once you have picked up a selection of these, the screen becomes filled with missiles every time you hit the fire button.

The poor aliens subjected to this barrage include simple dancing rights, flapping space-birds, giant flamingoes, and the most hideous guardians at the end of each level. The demon-headed snake at the end of level three is a particular horror, requiring dozens of head-shots to polish it off.

Salamander

But the landscape is just as dangerous: huge claws reach for you, jets of flame shoot from the surface, and networks of tendrils actually reform as you attempt to shoot your way through them. In some places it's important to develop the correct pattern of movement and shooting if you hope to blast your way through.

If you're terminally damaged, your ship just flashes, disappears and reappears at the left hand side of the screen, giving you a few seconds of invulnerability before the mayhem starts again. You do, though, get the chance to recapture any weapons pods which you dropped (if you're fast enough).

So what you get for your money is an absorbing and challenging blast, but nothing in the way of originality. To be honest, this doesn't look as good or play as well as I.O., but the programming is a little slicker. If this is your kind of thing, you'll enjoy it, but Salamander won't convert any confirmed shoot-'em-up haters.

Chris Jenkins

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