KONAMI - NES
Reviewed by Malc
(Cheers to Chuck and others for the info on this version!)
are two types of arcade conversions. Arcade-Perfect and Not-So-Arcade-Perfect.
The first type are usually the desired type, with the second form often
being the result of a rush-job by a crew who aren't that familiar with
the arcade game, or because of limitations of the hardware. Lifeforce
on the NES is a little bit of an anomaly - it's really nothing like
the arcade game, but stands proud as a tweaked 'remake'.
Personally, it usually annoys me when companies change what should have
been a straight conversion. Arcade tactics and strategies fail miserably
on a carelessly produced home version resulting in unfair deaths. And
often the changes are not at all for the better either. Lifeforce on
the NES has many extra stages, plus a good amount of general improvements.
That's not to say the game's perfect though - remember this is on an
aged 8-bit system, and as such can't compete graphically or technically
with the original. Some of the new graphics are quite amateurish looking,
and the actual fighter plane you control isn't as nicely designed. I
do like a good looking craft to control, as that's what you'll be staring
at throughout the whole thing! However, if you've played Salamander
or Lifeforce to death on another system, you'll find plenty new to have
fun with here.
There's not much point talking about graphics as you can see them below
in a tick, and musically it's a bit on the dire side. Instead I'll list
a few of the alterations and let you get on with playing it for yourself!
First of all, they've changed the powerup system. Lifeforce's original
powerup system was actually a step back from Nemesis/Gradius, in that
you simply picked up icons and your weapons were added on immediately.
Now we've got an icon bar just like Nemesis, and I think I prefer it.
Next, you'll notice a big difference in how the levels play. Bashing
through level one, the growths grow further and quicker than you're
used to, with some dead-ends as well if you're not fleet on the old
feet. At first you think this is a really sloppy conversion, but when
you reach the second level you begin to realise what's afoot. Extra
bits! Levels! New enemies!
The second level (the vertical asteroid one) has been binned, and after
that things change dramatically. By this time you're really enjoying
yourself, but I must admit if I was expecting the original game and
didn't have the option of playing a more accurate conversion on another
system, I would be feeling a bit miffed. Still, you have to appreciate
the extra effort stirred into the new mix. So that's really all that's
not covered in the original Shmups SALAMANDER review, now all that's
left is to take you through some of the more notable new parts....
After travelling through the fire level, which is fairly true to
the original, the dragon appears as a head only. When you meet the
bosses, they are usually construction out of background blocks,
instead of sprites, and the score meter bar has to be removed to
let this happen. A bit disconcerting at first. The dragon's not
any harder, but it is a new angle on him anyway...
I love fast mazey sections, where you have to negotiate thin and
twisty corridors moving at speed. This is one of them.
New territory here - burst the pustules before they release undestroyable
Smack the orange vitamin pills before the go all mouldy and spiky.
I had a LOT of trouble with this section... the ends of the ribs
fire diagonal missiles which are fast and deadly. Stay back until
you see what they're up to.
This skull pops up afterwards, and his eyes predicably plop out
and attack you.
After an uneventful greeny level, you descent into an Egyptian tomb...
... firing through the destroyable blocks to reach...
... a particularly grumpy looking Tutankhamen. Generally the bosses
aren't that difficult.
I'm not going to say ANYTHING here. You already know how I feel
about the inclusion of THESE BLOODY THINGS in every Konami game.
A great improvement on the original... a green snake scoots around
the large blob, firing small blue bombs. Nice idea.
Then all you have to do is blast it away before it smashes into
your ship. Easy bugger.
Finally, a very difficult (if you have no speedups) blast through
a high speed section, with pipes growing out of the sides. You can't
afford to stay back as sometimes they join up and you're stuck!
Ah, I enjoyed that. A nice diversion from the norm, with some tricky
traps and additions.
Here's the usual end sequence... a planet being destroyed with your
fighter returning home. Give it a try!