Sunday, November 26, 2017

Salamander 2 (PSP)

Horizontal / Vertical
Checkpoints OFF
8 Difficulty levels
6 Stages (loopable)
Ship speed by icons
- - - - - - -
Developed by Konami
Published by Konami in 2007

I'm not the one to seriously tackle a twitchy game on any handheld console for a very simple reason: the screen is too small and I often drift my fingers on the d-pad or analog stick after a while, which in the case of shmups can make controlling the ship a real chore. So whenever I take out the PSP for serious play, for instance, I always send its signal to a TV so that the PSP itself functions as a different kind of controller.

On the case of Salamander 2 I did not do the above. I played exclusively on the tiny console for some hours late at night for three days, in order to participate in a friendly competition from a Whatsapp group. I had the earphones on, and by my side my daughter was sound asleep (yes, I'm her guardian knight).

The game is one of the titles included in the Salamander Portable compilation, an absolutely mandatory item in everyone's PSP collection whether you're a shmup fan or not. I never really thought I'd be able to loop it while lying down (sometimes uncomfortably) or sitting on a sofa in the quiet night, but I managed to pull it off so here I am, writing about it for the third time. You can click here for the first instance and here for the second one. They have descriptions of the gameplay, so I'll skip this part in this quick essay. As for the quality of the PSP port, everyone can rest assured it's arcade perfect.

Introduction of Salamander 2 on the PSP, horizontally stretched
(courtesy of YouTube user King Arthur Pendragon)

Besides saying that Salamander 2 is awesome, I could also add something in the lines of "Salamander 2 is Gradius for the lazy". As much as I'd be upsetting a few die-hard Gradius fans we all know this statement isn't that far from the truth (at least those who played this great game know that). You got speed-ups, missiles, lasers, options, shields and even half-options (option seeds) at the catch of a single item. Screw those endless capsules and the possibility of catching too many of them and missing the activation moment for that precious shield... If you've ever played a Gradius game and that doesn't ring any bells then Gradius certainly isn't for you.

On top of the unique pick-up items Salamander 2 also grants us with a neat homing attack that sacrifices half-options in exchange for an elegant way to deal with too many enemies or enemies behind walls. In many occasions, especially when I was learning how to play the game, I took this feature for granted or simply forgot about it, venturing into hairy situations that could've been solved more easily. Why perform stunts when such a great resource is at our disposal? Greedy players take note (myself included most of the time), all you lose for using this awesome attack is only half an option. Okay, you need to take the remaining option seed back , but you know what I mean.

Flames of death in stage 2

Was making the game harder when playing with Vic Viper (player 1) a nice touch by Konami? Well, it depends. It's tough to go with Vic Viper once you figure out the challenge gets a lot more manageable when choosing Super Cobra (player 2). Red over blue meaning extra items on bosses and less aggressive enemies sounds irresistible, right? I did try to play with Vic Viper for a little while, but with so much room for error due to my slips on the d-pad I soon returned to good old Super Cobra.

And that reminds I oughta finally tackle Super Cobra on the Playstation. I've been delaying that one for years, trying to make it get chosen in the selection windows of several friendly competitions. I should wait no more, I guess. Hopefully soon?

My score for the first loop of Salamander 2 on the PSP is below, playing at full defaults and dying on the first stage of the second loop. I had a few more runs after that but never came close to beating it again, and since my shmup mates moved on to another game I also decided to say goodbye. However, I do intend to come back to Salamander Portable for that lovely Gradius 2 release for the MSX, which had its choppy scrolling duly adjusted in this compilation.


  1. Hello!

    First of all, thanks for your blog! You have an awesome collection and it's always good to read your reviews about the various shmups.

    I'm a beginner in shmups and since I didn't know where else I could ask you, I'm going to place some questions for you here:

    1) How long do you take (approx.) to get a 1CC on a game? I'm asking because the way you write, it sounds that is an easy and even trivial thing to you, so I'm curious about it.

    2) FOr a beginner, what games do you recommend to try to get a 1CC?

    3) Do you prefer horizontal or vertical shmups? For beginners, which one do you think is the best?

    4) Are there lot of shmups that you abandoned because they were bad or do you try to 1CC every one of them no matter what?

    Sorry for my poor english!

    1. Hello anonymous
      your English is fine :)
      let's see...

      1) it depends on available time; some of them can be beaten in a couple of hours, others take a couple of months; there are easy and hard ones, and it all depends on dedication and focus

      2) it depends on the system you have at your disposal; for arcade/MAME there are some easy ones... Rapid Hero, Insector X, Last Resort; for home consoles there are some staples such as Thunder Force III, Gradius III, etc

      3) My favorites ones are horizontal, but there are great shmups in both types.

      4) Abandon because they suck, no. Abandon because they're too hard, yes. Hehehehehe I always say that "no beatable shmup (one that has an ending) is so bad that it doesn't deserve to be 1CCed at least once".

      Thanks for following the blog!

    2. Hi, could you please tell me afew that you have abandoned because too hard?

    3. Star Force on the NES (US version) is a prime example. I still want to get back to it some time in the future.
      I also gave up on Border Down and Ikaruga a long while ago. Perhaps it's time to try again. :)