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Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus Konami, Sega Saturn, 1997

Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus
Konami (Japan)
$40+ (eBay)
Japan is the source for a wide variety of greats that never hit North American game consoles, one of the more interesting is the retro pack Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus. It includes Salamander, Life Force, and the graphically intensive-- relatively speaking -- Salamander 2.

The gameplay is nothing new, as it's another side-scrolling (or in some stages, top-down scrolling) shoot-em-up like we've come to love or in some cases, loathe. Life Force and Salamander are both very similar games with slight variations in gameplay. More or less, they're two similar but graphically different games that are quite different from the NES Salamander/ Life Force game that was released in 1989.

Salamander 2, on the other hand, is a game based on the same old Gradius/R-Type formula with graphics that are just great. There's nary a polygon to offend the eye, as this is entirely hand-drawn graphics that many of the old school gamers in the world still enjoy without using words like "primitive." It's not Einhander, but it's one of the high points of the two-dimensional shooter during the 32-bit era of gaming, but truth be told there weren't many of them.

For those unfamilliar with the power-up system, it's like this: instead of being able to select your weapon when you collect the weapon pods, a defeated enemy leaves an item behind, and that's what you get. You might get shields, lasers, or options... or nothing at all. This provides a little more excitement to the game, but it also means that your options are more limited as to what you can use as the game decides for you most of the time.

I love this compilation. I'm a sucker for shooters, and I'm a sucker for retro, and the gameplay is fun enough to warrant giving this title a shot-- that is, assuming you'll ever find it. Unless you're a total loon for the genre, odds are you should pass on this if for no other reason than it's difficult to find. Parodius and Gradius packs were also made, and all of these were also sold in Japan for the PlayStation as well. All in all, this is a solid package, it's a lot of fun, and it's a shame American gamers were never treated to this collection, although it was almost imported for the original PlayStation along with the Gradius titles.

Additional pics available via the box below the image. Please allow for some loading time. It should be noted these images, watermarks and all, were originally taken for a feature that was meant for publication in 1998 or 1999.

--Adam Pawlus
April 6, 2004

Game Reviews

Arcade Games
 Godzilla Kaiju Wars VR

 Rollacrit Bag of Holding

PC Peripherals
 MT80 White Mechanical Keyboard

Nintendo Wii
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years
 Main Game
Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People
 Homestar Ruiner
 Strong Badia the Free
 Baddest of the Bands
 Dangeresque 3
 8-Bit Is Enough

 Kurulin Fusion
 Thexder Neo

Xbox 360
 Bubble Bobble Neo
 Bust-A-Move Live!
 Comic Jumper
 Connect 4
 Encleverment Experiment
 G.I. Joe: ROC
 Gel: Set & Match
 Hard Corps: Uprising
 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
 Lode Runner
 Mega Man 9
 Puzzle Quest Galactrix
 R-Type Dimensions
 Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection
 Space Invaders Extreme
 Space Invaders Infinity Gene
 Splosion Man
 Trivial Pursuit
 Zombie Apocalypse
 Zombie Wranglers
Walking Dead
 Episode 1
Wallace & Gromit
 Fright of the Bumblebees
 The Last Resort
 The Bogey Man

 GameBoy Advance SP Famicom Color

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