Life Force

aka: Arcade Archives: Life Force, Arcade Archives: Salamander, Life Force Salamander, Lifeforce, Salamander, Salamander, Salamander (Life Force)
Moby ID: 7297
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Description official descriptions

In a distant part of the universe, an alien creature called Zelos was born. As he grew so did his appetite, and soon he began devouring galaxies, planets, and stars by the hundreds. Now your planet has appeared in Zelos' path, and it is up to you and a partner to fly into battle to save your world.

Life Force is an action-packed shooter where there are six levels which alternate between side and vertical scrolling, each of them ending with a powerful guardian. Throughout the game, destroying certain enemies will release power ups which can be used to equip your ship with more powerful weapons, extra speed, and shields. Gameplay is for one player or two players simultaneously.


  • アーケードアーカイブス 沙羅曼蛇 - Japanese Nintendo Switch / PS4 spelling
  • 沙罗曼蛇 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 沙羅曼蛇 - Japanese / Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (Arcade version)

11 People



Average score: 83% (based on 42 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 105 ratings with 2 reviews)

An average, but still enjoyable and fun space shooter.

The Good
This is a classic and very enjoyable shooter. I usually don't bother too much with shooters games, but I like this one a lot. I can't really say why. The gameplay is simple and enjoyable, especially when you're playing with a friend with the simultaneous 2 players code. The power up system is good and enjoyable (especially when you battle the power ups with your friend), it'll increase your speed, if you collect two you'll be able to use missiles, collect three to have a ripple weapon, four will done a laser weapon, with five, you'll get an "option" (a bowl that'll follow you and shot like a copy of your star ship, but it'll never scratch) and the ultimate power up allow you to be invincible for one hit. If you enable two times missiles, your missiles will go faster, and you can also have up to 3 options at the same time. The graphics are very nice and detailed. Many elements (especially in graphics) are just some improvements of it's prequel Gradius. Boss battles are fun and original.

The Bad
The music is good, not great trough. Just the boss battle theme will seriously decrease the average of the music of this game (it's slow and boring, just like a boss battle theme shouldn't be)

At some places, the power ups are simply too rare.When you scratch, you loose all your power-ups and you'll be weak, so you'll scratch again and this vicious circle will continue again and again until the end of the stage. This will make the game so hard that it'll get next to impossible. The game isn't that hard as long you don't scratch, but the first time you'll scratch you'll lose all your power ups and you'll never be able to bring yourself back to a good situation from this point. If you don't use the 30-lives codes, the game will really be close to be impossible (at least challenge doesn't lack in this game). Fortunately, you (or the other player) can bring back your options with a bit of luck. In Gradius (the prequel to Life force), the ultimate power up allowed you to be invincible for five hits. This time you're invincible for only one hit. At the beginning or right after a crash when you have no "speed up", you'll go so slow that you'll press very strongly on the controller's arrow that you'll harm your inch.

The idea to mix vertical and horizontal levels is fun, however I don't like too much the vertical ones. The missiles goes on the left and on the right of your ship (normally the missiles can only goes BELOW your ship, just like in Gradius). When you shoot with a laser weapon, and move your ship just after that, your laser will also move (it's always just in front of your ship) and this is very scaring if you have no option because you can't fight and dodge at the same time.

There is some graphical glitches at boss battles (sometimes the image of a boss scrolls on the opposite side of the screen). Also, while animation of the game are good, sprites will flickers a lot (because of the NES' 8 sprites per line limitation) Sound effects are just beeps and bleeps, and sometimes they'll make your hears bleed (some of them are still very fun, like the ripple or the laser shots).

The ending is seriously disappointing (just the same as Gradius' ending, then a large "Konami" logo will show up on the screen).

The Bottom Line
Life force is a classic shooter, but it still has some original aspects in it, especially the bosses. It's a very fun and enjoyable game if you play it with a friend. If you haven't played any Gradius game yet, I'd recommend to first play the original Gradius, then this game.

NES · by Bregalad (937) · 2005

An amazing port

The Good
Like... everything! Whoever developed this port, did an unusually good job, bringing this epic space shoot-em-up to the 8-bitter C64.

The fire effect on the 3rd level never gets old.

The Bad
It slows down when there is too much going on the screen.

(Life Force, eh? It's called Salamander! Silly Yankees.)

The Bottom Line
Just pointing out the wins from the usual crud of arcade conversions.

Commodore 64 · by 1xWertzui (1135) · 2024


1001 Video Games

The Arcade version of Salamander appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


There was an Anime based on Life Force. It was called Salamander, made in 1988, and only released in Japan and the U.K. Sadly, all three episodes are out of print in both countries.


  • ACE
    • October 1988 (issue #13) - Included in the Top-100 list of 1987/1988 (editorial staff selection)* Commodore Force
    • December 1993 (Issue 13) – #90 “Readers' Top 100”
  • Commodore Format
    • July 1993 (Issue 34) - Modern Classics: Shoot-'em-ups (Check 'em out)
  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • November 1997 (Issue 100) - ranked #76 (Best 100 Games of All Time) (NES version)


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  • MobyGames ID: 7297
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Servo.

Nintendo 3DS added by GTramp. Wii U added by Michael Cassidy. Nintendo Switch added by Rik Hideto. PlayStation 4 added by Sciere. MSX, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, TurboGrafx-16, ZX Spectrum added by Martin Smith. Arcade added by NewRisingSun. Wii added by gamewarrior. Sharp X68000 added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: Roedie, chirinea, Sciere, Alaka, Atom Ant, Игги Друге, DOS Boot, Rik Hideto, Jo ST, FatherJack, John Boss.

Game added September 28, 2002. Last modified April 16, 2024.