FAQ v1.1 - Original text version by granz, html edited version by GameStone.
Salamander 2 is the arcade-exclusive follow-up to Konami's classic hit, Salamander. (also known as "Life Force" in non-Japanese territories) The series follows in the steps of the signature Gradius / Nemesis series, though it takes an artistic license with a few elements of gameplay, as necessary to distinguish itself from its predecessors.
Salamander (1) was originally released in arcades, and received a few console ports later on in the future. As featured in the Salamander Deluxe Pack for PSX, we unfortunately get the arcade version alone.
Gameplay between the two games is very similar, though Salamander 2 enjoys a much greater level of detail and a more extensive upgrade system. Arguably, it is shorter than the original Salamander, but many of the graphical frills and effects make it quite enjoyable in its own right.
What this guide is: I decided to compile some info on how to play the game, and outlined some tips for getting through the game's various obstacles. Why is this necessary? Well, considering Salamander 2 was never released outside of Japan, I think it's only fair that non-Japanese gamers get a chance to enjoy this classic. Some of the game's elements might seem pretty unfamiliar, even to long-time fans of the Gradius series. Hopefully, this guide will provide you with enough detail to pick up on it and play through without any difficulty.
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It's very important to mess with the control configuration if you're playing the game for the first time. Since you're required to press separate buttons to both fire standard shots and access the missile chamber, assigning them both to the same button can make the game a lot easier -- even better, you may want to assign the auto-fire function to the X button.
Opting for a higher difficulty setting won't really matter during the first play-through, as the game provides you with unlimited continues. However, every loop after that ("loops" are every other play-through) will limit your continues.
If you're emulating the game with pSX, note that Salamander 2 uses a pretty
uneven screen resolution. Standard NTSC resolution is around 640x480, but games
aren't really required to use this resolution. In fact, some use incredibly tiny
resolutions. A standard television set would normally resize the image to fit
the screen, so you would never really notice; but in the case of emulation,
you're pretty much stuck with whatever the actual developer resolution is. This is where the screen adjustment option comes in handy. You'll have to centre it along your window in order to get a clear picture, though I don't think it's possible to get rid of the black bars around the image.
Don't forget to save your settings to the memory card!
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Salamander features a rather extensive weapon system which strays somewhat from the classic Gradius / Nemesis formula. For instance, instead of collecting energy cells and using them to purchase something from a list of available upgrades, defeated enemies will simply drop these upgrades randomly. You can essentially grab something as rare as a Force Field immediately upon starting the game. Although this does compensate for problems like the "Gradius syndrome," (the tendency to lose ALL of one's upgrades upon losing a ship) it does make it difficult to acquire a specific upgrade that might be necessary for a particular stage or situation. All in all, it is a change of pace from what we're used to, and does give the game a unique flair.
One welcome addition is the ability to upgrade weapon range and power; albeit temporarily. Extended weapons can make some of the tougher areas a breeze, though the necessary parts are dropped on a random basis. Any time you already have a weapon and collect the same part again, its power will be extended for a short period of time. This is explained below in the upgrade overview:
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Weapons can be picked up more than once for a temporary power up.
Missile = Twin Missile
Ripple Laser = Buster Ripple
Laser = Hyper Ray
Twin Laser = Spear Laser
Here's a brief explanation of each upgrade's function:
|Speed-up||スピードアップ||Increases ship speed (stackable)|
|Missile||ミサイル||Allows missiles to be fired downward|
|Twin Missile||ツインレーザー||Fires two missiles simultaneously, up and down|
|Ripple Laser||ツインミサイル||A circular beam that covers a wide range|
|Buster Ripple||バスターリップル||An upgraded ripple laser with extended range and damage|
|Laser||レーザー||A straight beam that penetrates enemies|
|Hyper Ray||ハイパーレイ||An upgraded laser with extended damage|
|Twin Laser||リップルレーザー||Fires two smaller lasers simultaneously|
|Spear Laser||スピアレーザー||An upgraded version of the twin laser with extended damage|
||オプションシード||A smaller option that circles the ship (auto-fires weak shots)|
|Option||オプション||Follows ship and mimics shots; can be used as homing laser|
|Force Field||フォースフィールド||Protects the ship from damage, but has limited durability|
|Japanese Speech||English Speech|
|コアを撃て||Shoot the core!|
|胴体を撃て||Shoot the body!|
|頭を撃て||Shoot the head!|
|臓器を壊しアバドンを撃て||Pound the entrails and shoot Abaddon!|
|かつてない恐怖を与えてやろう||I'm going to scan you like you've never been scaned before.|
|おまえも道連れにしてやる||I'll take you to hell with me.|
|おまえは私には絶対勝てないのだ||You can't beat me. Never.|
Note that the original documents spelt 'scanned' with only one 'n'.
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This is a sort of pseudo-walkthrough section where I'll try to detail some of the unique events found throughout the various stages, break-down what to expect in each area, and present any useful tips that may help with specific parts. I'll also detail strategies for dealing with boss encounters.
Salamander follows in the general flow of Gradius and its many predecessors, so
levels tend to go in "tiers." Each area will have around three tiers -- empty
space / the power-up section, the main level itself, and the boss encounter.
Levels usually begin with an empty environment, and several ranks of enemies
bearing upgrades. Assuming you didn't clear the previous level without losing a
ship, this gives you the opportunity to get prepared for what's ahead by grabbing several quick upgrades. Take advantage of these opportunities.
In the event that you do lose a ship, you will emerge close to your last position. Although you will lose all of your upgrades, you do get the chance to reclaim any Options or Option Seeds you had at the time. Grab these quickly, as they will leave the screen before long!
The first area is a simple drift through fluid space, consisting of a few large worms cycling about, and several columns of enemy ranks which yield an opportunity to score some upgrades. You'll want to take out as many of these ranks as you can, as this is your primary opportunity to get powered-up for the rest of the level.
Clearing this area brings you to an organic system, where you're greeted by a one-eyed... tentacle... thing. This enemy poses no serious threat for now, but you will want to avoid accidentally being flogged by one of its tentacles. The creature will quickly fall back, allowing you passage through the rest of the system.
The main level itself doesn't pose many environmental problems, but there are a lot of enemies firing long-range shots. Later on in the level, you'll have to navigate across a few "teeth" which protrude out of the upper and lower lining.
This is the one-eyed tentacle creature encountered earlier. Before meeting an abrupt fate, the creature will fire many instances of laser beams in several directions at once. Just evade a couple of shots and the predator boss will take care of it for you. (in fact, there doesn't seem to be any method of destroying the creature yourself.
This boss is relatively simple. It navigates a dedicated area horizontally while firing several small parasites at you. Destroying the parasites is easy, and usually bears free upgrades. As the creature's mouth gapes open, you'll have the opportunity to target its weak spot, which appears to be some sort of uvula. Occasionally, it will dive forward in an attempt to crush you. Remaining stationary between the opening in its mouth will keep you safe.
Frankly, this stage is a huge spike in difficulty compared to the previous one.
The entire level consists of several mechanical stars which fire random solar
bursts in surrounding directions. Evading them is difficult simply due to the
number of stars grouped together. By the time you reach this area, it's likely
that you'll be receiving some of the upgraded weapon options, so clearing out
enemies will be a breeze. Note that the stars can be destroyed, though it requires a lot of focused weapons fire.
You'll encounter many of the same enemy ranks as before, but it is important to note the enemies that appear mid-level; many of them will appear instantaneously, and sometimes right on top of your ship. Try to avoid being surrounded in this area.
To put it simply, an over-sized flame-thrower. Each of the hydra's heads will take turns spewing flames straight ahead. This is all relatively easy to avoid. Try to focus weapons fire on one head at a time in order to render its attacks less effective. The boss will occasionally withdraw itself from range to avoid being damaged.
The second organic system found in the game is a huge leap in difficulty as compared to the first. The first area mainly poses oversized tapeworms and stationary enemies that fire long-range shots, and is only a precursor to the difficulty found ahead.
When you encounter what appears to be a doorway, fire on it to allow yourself safe passage into the next system. Here, you'll be overwhelmed with large enemy ranks, both stationary and moving. The moving ranks will come in from behind, unless you clear them out in advance. This can become a problem while trying to navigate some of the area's narrow passageways.
The latter part of the system will be much less narrow, but blockaded by a web configuration. Firing on the large cells in the centre will make the area easier to navigate.
This fight consists of two stages. First, notice the eye resting in the centre of the structure. This is the boss itself. All surrounding obstacles mostly serve as barriers. You'll want to fire dead ahead, cutting straight through the defences and damaging the eye just enough to draw it out. Be mindful of the enemies that will occasionally emerge from the walls.
After you've drawn the eye out, it will first attempt to ram your ship by flying
straight toward you. Just dart out of its way. It will then proceed to fire an
array of shots in a twirling pattern. Be sure to fly between the adjacent
spacing between the its shot patterns, then shoot the eye when the opportunity
This area contains a lot of environmental obstacles. Aside from various ship debris are actual warships, which will either fire upon you or attempt to crush you between their bulkheads. Some of them can be easily destroyed if bombarded with enough missiles, though others are indestructible. This pretty much describes the entire level.
If you've played the first Salamander, you'll undoubtedly recognize this boss. It's strategy is fairly simple -- it's arms will rotate continuously while it circles the vicinity. Just aim for the exposed core. The laser is most helpful here, since it has the proper type of range to target the core without being deflected too often.
I sometimes wonder if this level should have appeared much earlier in the game! I can think of a few levels that were much longer and more tedious than this one.
The first area will encompass a small asteroid belt. Of course, you'll want to avoid ramming into one of those...
The second area will bring you upon a few scattered bases, or perhaps derelict remains of a base. Be mindful of the gun turrets here. When possible, it's better to avoid entering into one of the bases at all.
The third area will bring you inside the base itself. The whole area is generally short, just like the debris field in the previous level.
This is one of the more tedious boss encounters. Along the wall are several
cores protected by small shields. Defending these cores is an enemy ship which
moves along the area horizontally. Targeting a specific core can be somewhat
difficult. Destroy all the cores to proceed.
This is a very dynamic stage. The first area will have you moving across a large gunship. Aside from enemy ranks coming in from above, you'll also have to deal with gun turrets mounted on the ship itself.
Clearing the ship will bring you through a meteor shower. Firing on the meteors will cause them to split, which can more or less make the area more difficult. If you have several Options and a decent beam, it should be possible to clear them more efficiently. A Ripple Laser would be ideal here.
This boss has an extensive array of lasers. The first one will only cover a small range, and is easy to evade. It's second formation will allow the unit to split into three sections, making it much more difficult to avoid. Only being a mini-boss, it won't take long to destroy.
The next section is quite tedious. You'll go full-speed through a narrow passageway while avoiding shifting pillars. This is reminiscent of the escape sequence from the original Salamander, though much more tedious. It's not unlikely that you'll lose a couple of ships here.
Although fairly easy, this boss fight can be a pain if you didn't manage to clear the pillar section without losing a ship. In fact, it's a good idea to reserve a good stock of ships just for this fight, as the boss will not give you a chance to get back on your feet after being knocked out. Its strategy is really straightforward -- lots of long-range shots from all directions. Though there are three heads, hitting any one of them counts toward the same target. A lot of focused fire is all you can really do here.
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Q: Was this game ever released in European or U.S. territories?
A: Not this particular version, but there are various other Gradius and Salamander Deluxe Packs available for a few other consoles. PSP comes to mind.
Q: I can't read Japanese script. Will I be able to play this game?
A: Yes. There isn't any Japanese script in the game, that I'm aware of. Japanese developers occasionally release games with English script -- especially when the game doesn't call for much dialogue to begin with. Menu text, in-game text and even voice-acting are all in English.
Q: Will this game run on my NTSC-U (U.S.) PlayStation console?
A: Not without a mod-chip. PSX enforces a region protection scheme. However, you do have the option of emulating the game on your computer or modding your console to remove its region protection.
Q: Are there any differences between the original arcade release and this port?
A: Not to my knowledge. I have not played the original arcade release, but from what I have seen of it, the two versions appear to be very much alike. (I believe this is an emulated port of the arcade version?)
FAQ v1.1 - Original text version by granz, html version edited by GameStone