by Andrew J. Glaister, Stuart J. Ruecroft
Konami Ltd
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

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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