by Andrew J. Glaister, Stuart J. Ruecroft
Konami Ltd
Crash Issue 49, Feb 1988   page(s) 90,91

Producer: Konami
Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Andrew Glaister, from a Konami coin-op

In this coin-op conversion presented as 'the Nemesis sequel', a giant salamander has swallowed your minuscule spacecraft, sending you on a terrifying journey down the amphibian's horizontally-scrolling alimentary canal.

The spaceship is directed up and down within the digestive tract, and accelerates to avoid the unpleasant obstructions that he within this particular salamander.

Lethal encrustations on the intestinal walls spit deadly particles, and pairs of thrashing, grasping giant arms accompany this biological arsenal. All are blasted out of the way, before they block the route and force the ship to crash.

The salamander's insides are split into several different levels, each guarded by a large creature that is destroyed to progress to the next.


Joysticks: Cursor. Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: colourful, with smooth scrolling and vivid loading screen
Sound: good title tune a effects
Options: definable keys

As shoot 'em ups go, Salamander is infuriating - but is still very good. The gameplay is fast, exciting and addictive, and otters plenty of challenge. Salamander players might find that Konami have missed out quite a lot of the original arcade features, but if it's a good shoot 'em up you're after - this is a good one to go for.
BEN [84%]

Like the arcade original, Salamander is playable from the word go. The graphics are colourful and detailed, and the scrolling is smooth - there's a decent title tune, too, although the in-game effects are the usual zap sounds of shoot 'em ups. However, it's infuriating to be forced to start a level again whenever you lose a life, but in a way this adds to the appeal and keeps the player coming back for more. If you're a shoot 'em up fan, you could well enjoy Salamander.
ROBIN [78%]

The brilliant loading screen is followed by a game that's not so hot. It's incredibly frustrating having to go all the way back to the beginning of a level when you die, and some players might find this a little too much. It's a shame the gameplay is so annoying - because the graphics, scrolling and sound effects are all exceptionally good. Try before buying.
BYM [76%]

Presentation: 76%
Graphics: 79%
Playability: 83%
Addictive Qualities: 60%
Overall: 79%

Summary: General Rating: A swift and exciting shoot-'em-up with one frustrating fault: losing a life returns you to the level's start.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 26, Feb 1988   page(s) 68

Reviewer: Tony Worrall

Salamander, to the uninitiated, was (and probably still is) one of the hottest arcade hits of the past couple of years. It was the follow up to that wicked coin-op - Nemesis, also converted into glorious Spectrovision by owners Konami.

Salamander, the coin-op, stood out because of its snazzy graphics, mega-music, and a wonderful simultaneous double player option. The action was fast, fluid and frantic. Truly state of the art arcade fare.

Now we turn to the Spectrum version, and oh boy what a total disaster. Take away the original's fabby graphics. Ignore the musical qualities, convert it into a one player (at a time) game, and don't forget to reduce the rip-snorting action to a pitiful snail's pace. Add a dash of flicker with a small helping of colour clash. Stir once, then throw out with the rubbish! It's that dreadful.

This version (I am sure the other versions will be better) is about as lively as me on a dull Sunday morning. As cold-blooded as the reptile it takes its name from.

If you want to know, the action revolves around the liberating of deep space from evil hordes. Ho hum. It is really another version of the classic 'Defender/ Scramble' genre. Nemesis tarted up in fact! it plays better than the Speccy version of Nemesis, but that's not saying much. Most things play better than that!

If you want a tacky (but damn hard) shoot 'em up then get this. But if you are looking for the real Salamander - forget it chums.

Graphics: 4/10
Playability: 4/10
Value For Money: 3/10
Addictiveness: 4/10
Overall: 4/10

Summary: Nemesis part two, but don't get excited. It's awful. A backward step for shoot-'em-ups.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 36, Dec 1988   page(s) 44,45

Reviewer: Nat Pryce

Interesting fact: most salamanders are less than six inches in length except the giant salamander from Japan which reaches three feet from tip to tail. Another interesting fact: the despotic Salamander rules an evil galaxy beyond infinity, among Organic Monsters of desctuction, Nuclear Spiders, infernos burning like raging seas in torment, (Ever seen a sea bu? I ain't). Caverns of Despair and Demons beyond the dimensions of our minds (very poetic, I'm sure). Not bad for a small slimy newt-like creature, is it?

Anyway, the powers that be have decided that the Salamander must die. No reasons given of course: ours is not to reason why, ours but to do and die (and many times too, I can tell you). To help turn the monsters, into radioactive goo, the aforementioned powers have doled out weedy ships, armed with one-shot-at-a-time cannons and given you the job of flying them; though why they just couldn't use a couple of H-bombs is beyond me. What all this 'atmospheric plot'stuff comes down to is a straight-forward (by today's standards any rate) horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up and a pretty damn good one at that.

The game is split into several levels separated by huge mega-nasties, which probably need several hits to eradicate (I don't actually know; I've never met one yet). These levels are further separated onto different landscapes, which, were told in the instructions, require different tactics to negotiate. This doesn't seem to be strictly true: just dodge and blast and you can get past anything near enough.

The first level starts off with a few formations of cannon-fodder but soon progresses to a dark tunnel full of growing arms, then caverns full of wobbly things which spit white blobs at you, and then a cavern full of huge gnashing teeth, and then... er, well, I've never got past those teeth, I'm afraid; I keep getting chomped. (Ouch!)

As usual these days, the alien vermin don't have it all their own way. You can collect all sorts of extra goodies. Wap 'em on to yer ship with a bit of double-sided sticky tape and you can kill the scum with missiles, lazer beams, speed-up thrusters, a couple of drone weapon pods and some techno-gadget called an Extra. Pretty good, eh? Well not quite: you see as you grab extra weapons. the aliens chuck more stuff at you! There's a real sadistic designer behind this game, I can tell you.

But it's little touches like that which make Salamander so utterly addictive. Even though I've been stuck at the 'teeth' bit for the last three hours, I've been sneaking extra goes while writing this review, absolutely sure that I can do it with one more try. The scrolling is smooth and fast, and when the action hots up your adrenalin really starts flowing. If I play it too much, I'll probably get an ulcer.

It's also very playable, well presented and blimin' good fun, and although it may have striking (bap!) similarities with a squillion and three other scrolling-blasting-add-on-weapons games, it stands out from the rest with good programming and great game design. And its a must for Nemesis fans, who must have been disappointed with the first Speccy conversion. Go out and buy it, you won't be dissappointed. Take it from a person who doesn't ordinarily like shoot em ups - me!

STOP PRESS: I've just got past the teeth... I'm approaching a huge while wall and... I've crashed. Rats!

Graphics: 7/10
Playability: 7/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Summary: "A jolly good blast. Like Nemesis only more so. Just buy it, it's flamin' great!"

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 59, Nov 1990   page(s) 54,55


Looking for something cheap? How about RICH PELLEY (now at half price - a snip)? Er, on second thoughts...

Hit Squad
Reviewer: Rich Pelley

If you were paying attention, you may remember Jonathan's small quibble a while back about Nemesis being just too plum hard for its own good. And I must admit, I'm having similar problems with the follow-up. Salamander - I've been playing the thing for hours and still haven't managed to complete Level One. Ahem. And I even got someone who is good at playing games to try as well, and he couldn't do it either.

It's much in the same vein as Nemesis (your averagely average horizontally-scrolling blasting-add-on-weapons jobby) and equally hard, although luckily this one is miles better (if you remember, its predecessor wasn't actually all that good). For example, there are loads of different aliens, spooky cavern things to fly through with these huge hand jobbies which come out and grab you, and piles more besides. The instructions also promise nuclear spiders, organic monsters and demons beyond the dimensions of our minds. Berlimey! And the end-of-level monster'll probably be a complete bummer to complete if the difficulty level of the rest of the game is anything to go by.

It's good, but a bit of a stiffy. (I beg your pardon? Ed)

Overall: 86%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 70, Jan 1988   page(s) 46,47

Label: Konami
Author: Andrew Glaister
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tamara Howard

OK. If you were one of those naughty people who said Salamander is just Nemesis with different scenery, raise your hand.

Come on. (Pause for sharp intake of breath whilst reviewer shamefacedly raises her hand).

Weeeellll, come on Konami, you've gotta admit there are certain similarities. The graphics and the gameplay to name but two.

I But just because I have my feet firmly in the camp that says Salamander is just Nemesis with knobs on, it doesn't mean I'm not a fan. Far from it. I've stood there, forcing my ten-pences in the machine, trying desperately to fly through fire. So I was jolly pleased to see that Konami had done such a good conversion.

Yup, Salamander on the Spectrum is pretty spiffy, coming complete with all the add-ons that one would expect from such a sophisticated shoot-'em-up. It's pretty fast, incredibly tricky, and great fun to play. The End.

Hahahahaha. Only joking. C'mere. there's more.

Salamander involves flying one's little spaceship around the treacherous cavernous, scary landscapes, picking up extra weaponry in order to blow the hell out of the large disgusting brain-like thing and thus progress to the next level.

What happens is this. To begin with we are in a black space, flying a white craft shooting at waves of white aliens. Bwrilliant. V dull, no colour, how appalling. This stage is absolutely simple. After one go you learn where the alien waves are coming from, making it easy-peasy to pick up every single bonus weapon under the sun.

And getting the weapons isn't even hard! You don't have to select! You just fly over them! (That's enough exclaiming for one day). The last ship in each wave will conveniently become an add-on for your ship, and once you've flown over it you're well equipped. Easy. But, my life, do you need all the equipment you can get? Because now you're on to the exciting part, starting off with the bendy claws bit.

These are something of a pain. They grow out of the rock face, waving about the place, and smashing straight into the side of your tiny ship. Unless, of course, you shoot the flashing bit first. Each bendy claw has a flashing bit near its base, and only by shooting that can you kill it, but watch out. The flashing bit will almost certainly be tucked right next to a large lump of rock and, you've guessed it, bumping into the scenery means instant death.

Once past the bendy claws, life does not, unfairly I think, get easier. Now you have to face gun emplacements, chunks of scenery, teeth-sort of things, fire, flame, meteorites and other such fripperies. And so on, and so on, until you've whizzed your way through the levels to blow up the big thing at the end that squirts bubbles. (Don't ask about that, if you've seen the original, you'll know what I mean, if not, it's far too complicated to explain).

Salamander is a pretty impressive romp through space, keeping faithfully to the coin-op. It doesn't have as many levels as the original, though, and the sound's a bit plink-plink-fizz.

If you're a Salamander in the arcades fan, then you should be well pleased with Salamander on the Spectrum. If not you'll just like it because it's a good shoot-away.

And if you're a Nemesis fan, perhaps you'd just like to buy it to make sure it's just Nemesis with add ons.

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Overall: 8/10

Summary: A well programmed conversion that should go down a treat with all shoot 'em up fans. Few levels and OKish sound.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 104, Oct 1990   page(s) 74

Label: Hit Squad
Price: £2.99
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Beyond infinity (which is pretty far away by anyone's standards) lies the evil galaxy dominated by the forces of the despotic Salamander. Some hero (you, to be precise) must persuade his compatriots the join him on a journey to Hell (just think of Birmingham Bullring Shopping Centre on a Saturday afternoon and double it).

Konami's coin-op Salamander was one of the first derivatives of Nemesis, the prototypical pick-up-the-extra-weapons game which led to dozens of imitators such as R-Type. Despite being first released in 1988 - an age ago! - Ocean's conversion stands up pretty well to the test of time.

Here's the poop. Your super-dooper space fighter flies horizontally through four levels of gunky alien dimensions, menaced by Nuclear Spiders, infernos, Caverns of Despair, Demons of Dreadfulness and Traffic Wardens of Terror (I made that bit up). As you fly along waves of baddies come at you, and if you zap an entire wave a bonus token appears; fly over it for added weaponfulness. Trouble is, you start off with a pathetically slow and under-powered ship, so you have to pick up some weapons FAST if you hope to survive the Awful Wiggly Space Snakes and so on.

Extra weapons available include speed-ups, penetrating lasers, diagonal missiles, and, er, other stuff. Since the alien attackers are extremely predictable, all you have to do is to learn the positioning and manoeuvres necessary to get through each stage, and hang on to as many weapons as you can ('cos of course you lose them if you lose a life).

There's a two-player mode, but that's alternate turns rather than two ships at once. Needless to say, the end-of-level guardians are more horrific than a cold pizza left over from a particularly dissolute Saturday night, and the sound effects are suitably bleepy. The ultimate target is the huge brain which controls Salamander's domain.

Salamander might not be as sophis as some of the more recent titles, where the weapons are nastier, the baddies uglier and the destruction horrificaler, but at £2.99 you can't really go wrong. Strap on your laser pistol and give it a shot.

Graphics: 79%
Sound: 60%
Playability: 89%
Lastability: 81%
Overall: 81%

Summary: Good budget laser action. Showing its age a bit, but fun, nonetheless.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 5, Feb 1988   page(s) 42

Konami's flying lizard.

Cynics thought Salamander was one of those high class arcade games that could never be converted to an 8 bit micro and retain any of the gameplay and addiction of the coin-op classic. Were they right?

Far from it - Salamander has made the transition and has survived admirably. In case you've missed out, this horizontally scrolling shoot-em-up has the player flying a space ship through a series of alien tunnels, trying to survive bombardment from both ground-based and flying installations. Huge tentacles burst from the ceilings and floors of the tunnels and try to grab your ship - these have to be shot in the right place to destroy them.

The almost obligatory extra weapons are available to the player who manages to shoot a wave of the flying aliens and these weapons include the legendary Multiples - egg shaped structures that follow your craft and fire when you fire, effectively increasing and spreading your firepower. You get three lives to do the business, and if you're lucky you might pick up a few missiles and lasers to help you on your way.

The first re-start position is well into the game and until you've mastered the first few obstacles, you'll find being sent back to the beginning extremely frustrating. If you like your shoot-em-ups tough, you'll not be disappointed with Salamander, it's very easy to pick up and play and incredibly difficult to master. The Konami coin-op conversion team have proved the sceptics wrong wonderfully.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

C64/128, £8.95cs, £14.95dk, Jan 88
Spec, £7.95cs, Out Now
Ams, £8.95cs, £14.95dk, Dec 87

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 60/100
1 hour: 80/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 85/100
1 month: 60/100
1 year: 20/100

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Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 6/10
IQ Factor: 4/10
Fun Factor: 8/10
Ace Rating: 881/1000

Summary: An addictive game that's no pushover - should keep the most expert arcade player going for quite some time.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 107, Oct 1990   page(s) 71

Hit Squad
Spectrum/C64/Amstrad £2.99

From beyond infinity (where else?), the despotic Salamander has arrive and he's starting kitting people and generally causing a lot of havoc and mayhem. Bad news, huh?

A hero is needed and this is where you come in. Take your battle-scarred Warp Rattler into four levels of shoot em up action, collecting add-on weaponry and generally letting Salamander's minions eat photon death.

On the C64 at least, Salamander is an absolutely stunning conversion that simply demands immediate purchase (shame about the multi-load though). On the Spectrum and Amstrad, I'm afraid things aren't quite so rosy. The playing area is rather small and action is a tad slow - not the greatest of blasters by a long chalk.

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Overall: 65%

Summary: Hmmm. Not exactly the most exciting Spectrum blast around. There's load of better games of this ilk available at the magic budget price.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 13, Dec 1988   page(s) 40

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £7.95, Diskette: £14.95

Cast as a joystick wielding hero, it is your job to journey to hell and beyond; confront the huge brain which controls the Salamander's organic monsters of destruction, save the galaxy - and get home in time for tea.

Salamander alternates between horizontal and vertically scrolling levels, each further divided to different terrain types requiring various styles of play.

Bonus weapons are picked up when waves of aliens are annihilated. A guardian alien protects the entrance to the next level, the defeat of which is not easy.

The general feel of the Spectrum game is faithful to the arcade original, but a few omissions detract from gameplay. For example, when your ship is destroyed all additional weaponry is lost with no easy way to recover it.

Unlike the C64 version, this conversion is just too hard. The game is quite slow but the alien waves make it extremely difficult to complete a level.

Sound is limited to spot effects and graphics are largely monochromatic. Although neither are serious drawbacks, Salamander would be more compelling if it were slightly easier.

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Overall: 52%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 55, Jul 1990   page(s) 33,34,35,36,37


Where'd we all be without shoot-'em-ups, eh, Spec-chums? Well, we'd all have much smaller games collections, that's for sure! Join MATT BIELBY for an epic blast through nearly a decade of firepowered Spec-fun...

Blimey! The complete guide to shoot-'em-ups, eh? A bit of a mammoth task you might be thinking (and you'd be blooming right! It's taken me absolutely ages!). It's so blinking gigantic in fact that we've had to split it in two to save the whole ish from being packed to the gills with ancient shooty-shooty games and very little else!

So how's it all going to work? Well, this issue we spotlight those hundreds of games where you control a little spaceship, aeroplane or what have you, while next time round we'll be wibbling on for ages about those blasters where you command a man, creature or robot - things like Operation Wolf, Gryzor, Robocop (the list is endless, I'm sorry to say). Yes, I know it's a bit of an arbitrary way to divide the whole subject up in two, but it's the best I could come up.

Anyway, if you 're all ready, let's arm the missiles, oil the cannons, buckle our seatbelts and go kick some alien ass! (Or something.)


Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, it's a game where simple reaction times count for (almost) everything, and the actual shooting of various baddies constitutes the major part of the gameplay. It's just about the oldest form of computer game going (Space Invaders was pure shoot-'em-up, for instance), short of mad Victorian chappies crouching down inside big wooden cabinets and pretending to be chess machines. It's one of the most enduring forms too - hardly an issue of YS goes by when we don't review at least a couple of newies, and it's the rare arcade-style game (sports sims and puzzlers excepted) that doesn't include at least a small shoot-'em-up element in there somewhere as part of the gameplay.

But back to the case in hand. What we're talking about here are the pure shoot-'em-ups - games where the wiping out of waves of aliens or other baddies is everything (though let's be fair, the violence in most of these is very abstract and minimal). They easily divide into four major types, depending on how you view the action. And you can read all about them over the page.


Goodness knows - Space Invaders is the obvious answer, but most of the other early arcade games were shoot-'em-ups too - Defender, Asteroids, Galaxian and the rest. To find out what made it onto the Speccy first, well, we'll have to look back in the vaults and see what we come up with, shan't we?

Right, here we are with the very first issue of Your Spectrum (later to evolve into Your Sinclair), cover date January 1984. Flick to the review section and we have two Space invaders-type games, both from long-forgotten Anirog Software - Galactic Abductor and Missile Defence. The second issue (Feb 84. believe it or not) brings us such delights as Xark (Contrast Software), a Defender-type game and Alien Swoop (a Galaxians rip-off), while in issue three had Bug Byte's Cavern Fighter (a tunnel-based jobbie, like an early version of R-Type).

Hmm. Let's go back a bit further, shall we? All the early computer games mags were listings based (ie had lots of crap Basic games printed out line by line over oodles of pages, as if Program Pitstop had run rampant over the whole mag!) so we might find something in there. Believe it or not find something in there. Believe it or not, I have the very first issue of the very first computer games mag in the country sitting right here on my desk, cover-dated November 1981. There's only one Sinclair game in here (for a ZX80 or 81 - a Speccy forerunner - and taking up a whole 2K!). It's called City Bomb, and it's a sort of shoot-'em-up. Apparently you're in a plane at the top of the screen and have to bomb the city beneath you, flattening out a landing strip so you can put down safely. Thrilling stuff, eh? As for commercially available stuff, it's all lost a bit too far back in the mists of time to be sure. Still, shoot-'em-ups started emerging for the Speccy pretty soon after the machine came out, certainly by the end of '82. Throughout 83 people like Quicksilva and Bug Byte were churning out Space Invaders, Asteroids and Scramble clones advertised as 'being in 100% machine code and in colour' too, so perhaps it was one of those. Exciting stuff, eh?


In the great YS Guide To... tradition, for a one-off-only special occasion we've adapted our normal rating system to accommodate the shoot-'em-up theme. Here's how they work...

Alien-Death-Scum-From-Hell Factor
Are there oodles of inventive, nasty and extremely difficult-to-kill baddies all over the place (including the biggest, meanest muthas ever at the end of each level) or do you end up fighting a fleet of Trebor Mints?

Are there oodles and oodles of well-thought-out and spectacular weapons available to pick up and use, or do you have to make do with the same crap little peashooter throughout the game?

Copycat Factor
Unusually, the lower the score the better here. Basically, is this exactly the same as every other shoot-'em-up ever (in which case it'll get a high score for being chronically unoriginal) or does it have something innovative and special about it to set it apart from the crowd?

Visibility Factor
Does everything make a degree of sense in Speccyvision, or is it all a jumbled mass of pixels, with bullets, missiles and even little spaceships winking in and out of view willy-nilly?


Firmly in the vein of the classic Konami coin-op Nemesis, this is in fact a better bet for the Speccy than the disappointing conversion of the real thing. A very straightforward but smooth scrolling blast, it actually has baddies that get meaner as you acquire power-ups (the rotters!). Very ordinary, but a lot of fun.

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Transcript by Chris Bourne

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