Life Force review - Nintendo Entertainment System

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The scourge of the spaceways, the giant lizard Zelos, has devoured the twin worlds of Gradius and Latis. The only chance of escaping Zelo's stomach lies in the shape of two super starfighters, the Gradius Industries Vic Viper, and Latis's RoadBritish Space Destroyer - armed to the teeth with the very latest in military technology. Who're the dumb schmucks who get to fly 'em? Guess who...

So sets the scene for Life Force, or Salamander as it's better known in the UK. This one or two-player intergalactic blaster sprung into our arcades in mid-1986, as the sequel to the smash coin-op Nemesis (or Gradius on the NES).

Life Force is both a horizontally and vertically scrolling shoot 'em up, featuring bundles of bolt on weapons, alien bad guys, big end-of-level beasts and lots of huge explosions. The object? Just get out there and blow 'em to oblivion!

What the Mean Machines staff thought


" Featuring amazing graphics, great extra weapons, simultaneous two-player action and a huge variety of aliens to blast into oblivion, Life Force is a blaster and a half! The way it switches between horizontally and vertically scrolling landscapes adds extra variety to the gameplay, and the different strategies required to beat the mean end-of-level guardians makes this both challenging and addictive. Life Force is by far the best shoot 'em up currently available on the Nintendo - if you're into games of this type you'd be silly to miss it. "

" Salamander may be getting on a bit now, but it still ranks pretty highly as one of the better shoot 'em ups. So I was extremely pleased to see that Life Force retains almost all of the major ingredients that made its arcade parent so enjoyable. The graphics and sound are as close as one could hope for, and the playability is just about right - not too easy, nor over-impossible. Some of the later levels are a bit complex, but practice makes perfect, as they say. If you're a fan of the coin-op, or just love a good blast, don't miss it. "


Overall Score86%

Retrospective comments


I remember being enchanted by this game on a Nintendo Kiosk one day at Boots the chemist (whilst bunking off school) - even though I was a hardened master system fan due to the quality of this game I knew one day soon the NES must be mine!

When I eventually did get a NES this was one of my first purchases. I loved it mainly because of the two-player mode which was very rare on a horizontally (and vertically in this case!!) scrolling shooter.

The gameplay is still very addictive and like all Gradius games when you die you can only blame your lack of skill, not the game! Thankfully the game is a touch easier than most Gradius games. This comes highly recommended.

Justin - 28 Jun 2008, 06:02 GMT

Good to see that Life Force gets some positive reviews. The game kicks all kinds of ass - good music, good graphics, excellent gameplay, endless replayability and challenge.

Laurie - 09 Jul 2008, 16:10 GMT

Reading these reviews I am left wondering if I have not been playing the same game. Life Force (Salamander) should be well and truly consigned to that early NES catalogue marked dreary, underwhelming but phenomenally expensive. To think that Japanese and US kids were playing Gunhed and R-Type on the PC Engine (still two of the most impressive shoot-em-ups available on any home system) while Nintendo Corporation served up this tripe to European audiences classifies as a crying shame. Moreover, there were several Thalamus C64 shoot-em-ups light years ahead of this. Life Force? Life Farce more like.

Mean Machines Issue 1 - October 1990
Shoot 'Em Up Nintendo Entertainment System
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Life Force

Life Force

Life Force

Life Force

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