Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus (Available on PlayStation, and SEGA Saturn)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Shoot ‘em Up
Release Date: June 19th, 1997 (Sat), July 6th, 1997 (PS1)
Parent Talk: Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus is a shmup collection featuring three fantastic shooters from the mid-eighties to mid-nineties. These games feature some funky graphics like 2D animated brains with arms, and bizarre creations like that. I used to play this series when I was but a youngster and I turned out just fine (Editor’s note: that’s debatable).
Plays Like: Have you ever played Gradius, well then you know what to expect here. You get in the cockpit of the Vic Viper and destroy absolutely everything in your path. “Simple” as that.
Review Basis: Having owned this Saturn gem for many years, I’ve completed all three games in the collection many times over. These are true arcade classics.
If there’s one shmup collection I simply had to own, it was the Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus. The ‘Plus’ is because unlike the other Deluxe Packs Konami released on the Saturn and PS1 during the mid-nineties, this collection features three games instead of two. These are some of the very best shooters ever released, and much like Gradius, have stood the test of time perfectly.
+ All three games feature spot-on controls. If you die, it’s because you did something wrong, not because of input lag.
+ Each game has a difficulty setting, but even playing on Saturn Easy mode I was barely able to make it past the third level of the first two games.
+ This collection features an incredible amount of fantastic tunes. I love how each game has a sound test mode, making the songs super easy to rip onto your MP3 player. It might sound nerdy, but damn are these catchy songs. Konami were the kings of 8-bit music, and it shows when you can listen to these classic tracks over twenty years later and still enjoy them.
+ Visually the older two games look nice and crisp, as they should because they’re arcade perfect. Salamander 2, while also arcade perfect, looks significantly better than the other games in the collection, for obvious reasons. It’s a newer game, having been released in 1996, and features extremely detailed sprite-world and even polygons! My goodness, the future is now!!!
+/- Each of the three games have only six stages, and two of the games are virtual carbon copies of each other. That might appear skimpy, but these games will devour your soul so any more than six stages and you’d never make it out with your controller and TV intact.
Having not played any of these games for a number of years now, capturing footage for the video review was agonizing. These games are absolutely brutal! The first two include NO CONTINUES! That’s right ladies and gentlemen, even your beloved Konami code grants you squat. Thankfully Salamander 2 offers players unlimited continues, but that’s the only one. I guess that’s how you know these are all arcade perfect titles as the original arcade games didn’t offer continues in the single player mode, and only two continues in the multiplayer mode, which also holds true here as well. Ouch! Needless to say, this is a game for the most hardcore shooting fans.
Your enjoyment with this game will be based purely on your love of this series. If you’re a hardcore fan, you’ll think this is the ultimate collection. If you never really thought the series deserved all the attention it got, then obviously this isn’t for you. For someone like me it’s a classic, and one of the must-have titles to purchase on your SEGA Saturn or your imported PS1. Be warned though, this isn’t a cheap game, but for old-school arcade fans, it’s worth every single penny.
Final Score: 8.5/10