If you appreciate the work done within the wiki, please consider supporting The Cutting Room Floor on Patreon. Thanks for all your support!
This article has a talk page!

Life Force (Arcade)

From The Cutting Room Floor
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Title Screen

Life Force

Also known as: Salamander (JP original/EU)
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Platform: Arcade (Konami GX587)
Released in JP: July 4, 1986 (original), June 26, 1987 (rerelease)
Released in US: August 1986
Released in EU: 1986

GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
MusicIcon.png This game has unused music.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.
Carts.png This game has revisional differences.

A spinoff of Konami's hit 1985 shooter Gradius, Life Force introduced such features as simultaneous two-player play and stages that alternated between horizontal and vertical layouts.

Unused Graphics

The retooled Japanese Life Force release contains an unused large graphic of the two player ships, Vic Viper and Lord British. It was likely intended for the title screen, as it is located near the logo graphic in the ROM data.


Unused Music

The initial release contains a whopping 19 tracks of unused music in varying stages of completion, some of which would eventually be used in later ports and variants of the game. These cannot be accessed through the normal sound test, some hacking is necessary. The sound codes listed are internal, and do not correspond to the ones displayed in the sound test.

Track # File Comment
Titled "Thunderbolt" in the OST. This was later given a rhythm track and used for Level 2 in the Japanese Life Force.
It's also used for Level 5 in the NES version.
"Combat" in the OST. This was later used for Level 5 in the Japanese Life Force.
It's also used for Level 3 in the MSX version of Salamander.
This was later used for the loading sequence of the X68000 port.
"Slash Fighter" in the OST. This was later given a rhythm track and used for Level 4 in the Japanese Life Force.

In addition to retaining some of the unused tracks from the initial version, the Japanese Life Force contains a few unique unused tracks of its own.

Track # File Comment
A more fleshed-out version of unused Track 44 from the initial release.

Regional Differences

Salamander takes place on the home planet of Salamander - an elite force of the Bacterian Empire, the villains in Gradius. When the water planet Latis is under attack by the Salamander Army, the prince of Latis (the pilot of Lord British, the Player 2 ship) sends a distress signal to the planet Gradius, and the Vic Viper comes to their aid. Together, the two ships launch a counterattack on the planet of Salamander.

Life Force added an introduction that changed the story to you saving the Sentinel, a huge half-human half-mechanical warrior, from a tumor, in addition to renaming the Vic Viper to the U.S.S. Light Speed. To match the story, all starfield backgrounds were replaced with the organic webbing background (with varying palettes) used in the first stage of Salamander to give the impression you are inside a body.

Title Screen

Salamander Life Force (US)
Salamander arcade title.png Lifefrce-title.png

Power-Up Tutorial

Salamander Life Force (US)
Salamander Power-Up Tutorial.png LifeForce Power-Up Tutorial.png

Most of the power-ups were given new names in Life Force. "Speed Up" became "Hyper-Speed", "Missile" became "Destruct Missile", "Ripple Laser" became "Pulse Laser", and "Force Field" became "Shield". The "It's a Power Up!" header on the tutorial screen was changed to "Weapon Selection". Additionally, the superfluous instruction message in Salamander was removed with only the name of the power-up visible.

Salamander Life Force (US)
Salamander Power-Up Tutorial2.png LifeForce Power-Up Tutorial2.png

Similarly, the additional message describing that the power-up has been obtained was removed.

Staff Roll

Salamander has a staff roll with a unique music track. This was omitted in Life Force and the game instantly begins the next loop after the ending cinematic.


To do:
Rip the voice clips.
  • The collected power-ups were given new voice clips to match their updated names in Life Force.
  • When a power-up is collected for the first time, a voice-over in Life Force says "Increased power."
  • When each power-up appears for the first time, voice clips in Salamander inform the player "Pick it up for [name of power-up]". These voice clips were not updated for Life Force, instead being replaced with the same voice clips heard when a power-up is collected, making it very repetitive. This is fixed in the Arcade Archives release, restoring the Pick it up for from Salamander.
  • When the player approaches the bosses, a voice-over in Salamander says "An intruder has penetrated our force field". This was removed in Life Force.
  • Once a stage is cleared, a voice-over in Salamander says "Go up" or "Go to the right". These were removed in Life Force.
  • Once a higher loop of the game begins, a voice-over in Salamander says "Try again" instead of "Destroy them all". This was omitted in Life Force.
  • Keeping with the new theme of the game, Life Force added voice-overs introducing the stages. Many new voice-overs describing enemy weaknesses and warning the player of various stage hazards were also added:
    • Stage 1.
      • "Enter stomach muscle zone."
      • "Destroy violent antibiotics."
      • "Make way through muscle tissue."
      • "Fire."
      • "Destroy eye of mutant."
    • Stage 2.
      • "Enter kidney zone."
      • "Kidney stones cannot be destroyed."
      • "Mutant Cylon attacking."
      • "Destroy center membrane."
    • Stage 3.
      • "Enter stomach inner chamber."
      • "Warning. Warning. Danger zone."
      • "Acid flames."
      • "Flame eruption."
      • "Attack head."
    • Stage 4.
      • "Enter liver zone."
      • "Fight off mutant toxins."
      • "Cut through liver."
    • Stage 5.
      • "Entering lung zone."
      • "Link up with weapons."
      • "Prepare for biomechanical mutant."
      • "Fire."
    • Stage 6.
      • "Entering brain area."
      • "Biomechanical brain attacks."
      • "Destroy the four points."
      • "Escape out of brain quickly."

Revisional Differences

After Konami localized Salamander into Life Force and made the story and graphic changes, they released a third version in Japan, also called Life Force. The story was changed yet again, with the name Life Force now referring to the main villain, a growing alien being that absorbs everything around it. It added even more organic-looking backgrounds, stage hazards, and almost all robotic enemies were changed to organic lifeforms. The Fire stage was changed from red to blue, and the power-up system was changed to work like the one in Gradius.

Title Screen

Original Revision
Salamander arcade title.png Lifeforce arcade j title.png


Original Revision
Salamander-Golem.png LifeForceJP-Golem.png
Original Revision
Salamander arcade enemies-1.png Lifefjp arcade enemies-1.png
Original Revision
Salamander arcade enemies-2.png Lifefjp arcade enemies-2.png
Original Revision
Salamander arcade enemies-3.png Lifefjp arcade enemies-3.png


Original Revision
Salam arcade end.png Lifejpn arcade end.png

Instead of escaping from a planet, you now escape from the titular Life Force.


Original Revision
Salamander-Power-ups.png LifeForce-Power-ups.png

The graphics of the regular shot was slightly altered, and all power-ups were vertically adjusted to appear more centered for the side-scrolling Player 1-Ship (Vic Viper).

Original Revision
Salamander-Laser.png LifeForce-Laser.png

The Laser was also made thinner.

Power-Up System

LifeForce-Power Meter.png

The Japanese Life Force returns to the power-up system found in Gradius.

  • While Player 1 uses the power meter arrangement of Gradius (where Pulse replaces Double), Player 2 uses an alternate arrangement:
    • Player 1: Speed > Missile > Pulse > Laser > Multiple > Shield
    • Player 2: Missile > Laser > Multiple > Pulse > Speed > Shield
  • Due to the different power-up system, up to four shields can be equipped in the Japanese Life Force. While the arcade instructions said it was possible in Salamander, it was never possible to collect more than three power-ups.


Three tracks were replaced by some of the tracks that went unused in the initial version. Two of these (stage 2 and 4) exist in unfinished forms in the Salamander ROM. (OST names are listed in brackets.)

Stage 2

Original ("Fly High") Revision ("Thunderbolt")

Stage 4

Original ("Starfield") Revision ("Slash Fighter")

Stage 5

Original ("Burn the Wind") Revision ("Combat")

Other Revisions

  • A credit score system was implemented. First bonus at 70,000 points, and then every 200,000 points (default setting).
  • Some of the regular enemies have been replaced with power-up capsule holders, and new locations where capsule holders appear have been added.
  • You no longer get points by taking power-ups.
  • Collision detection on the player ships have been removed, making simultaneous two-player mode easier. In the original version, you can accidentily bump into your friend's ship and lose a life. The Intruder boss on stage 3 was notorious for this.
  • The voice-overs are more or less the same as in the North American Life Force. "Acid flames." replaced the voice-over "Flame eruption." The latter was omitted.