Gradius Wiki
Gradius Wiki

Life Force (ライフフォース Raifu Fōsu?) is a ported version of Salamander, originally released for arcades, which had many updates in both design and plot. It also saw a release on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1988.

Life Force was in many ways an updated Salamander; some elements, such as levels and bosses, were removed to make space for new content. Interestingly, most of the level graphics and enemy sprites from Salamander were used in favor of the ones used in Life Force, and it uses the Gradius power-up bar. The game was practically identical to the NES port of Life Force, other than being titled Salamander and featuring an expanded Gradius-like power-up bar. These ports make use of the Konami Code, which in this instance increases the number of lives from 3 to 30.


Two years have passed since the battle against the Bacterian star system...

To the planet Gradius which regained peace, an unprecedented crisis has arrived. The unknown super-organism "Life Force" suddenly appeared in space!! It's a gigantic creature which absorbs all substances and continues to grow without stopping. In the meantime, planet Gradius will be absorbed too! People entrust their last hope into the super spatio-temporal fighter Vic Viper.

Differences from Salamander

Life Force changes the plot from Salamander by adding an opening text which establishes the game to be set inside a giant alien life-form infected by a strain of bacteria. Stages which featured star field backgrounds had them changed with the web background from Stage 1 to maintain consistency with the organic setting of the plot. The power-ups are also given different names too:

  • "Speed-Up" to "Hyper Speed"
  • "Missile" to "Destruct Missile"
  • "Ripple Laser" to "Pulse Laser"
  • "Force Field" to "Shield"

NES version

Konami later released an enhanced version of Salamander in Japan bearing the American title of Life Force, which further fleshes out the organic motif. All of the backgrounds and mechanical enemies are completely redrawn and given organic appearances. The power-up system was also modified, with the Japanese Life Force using the same power-up gauge as the original Gradius. Some music tracks have also been completely changed for this release. The power-up gauge is arranged differently for both players as well.

Both the original Japanese version and the enhanced Life Force release are included in the compilation Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus for the PlayStation and Saturn, as well as in Salamander Portable for the PlayStation Portable.



Stage Name Boss Music
1 Stomach Muscle Zone Golem Power of Anger
2 Kidney Zone Zylom Thunderbolt
3 Stomach Inner Chamber Intruder Planet Ratis
4 Liver Zone Fortress Valis Slash Fighter
5 Lung Zone Gaw Combat
6 Brain Area Zelos Force Destroy Them All


Stage Name Boss Music
1 Bionic Germ Golem Power of Anger
2 Volcano Fortress Valis
Cruiser Tetran
3 Burning Chaos Intruder Planet Ratis
4 Organic Speed Zone Giga Burn the Wind
5 Temple Zone Crash Bam
6 Fortress Zone Salamander
Zelos Force
Destroy Them All

New enemies



  • Interestingly, Life Force takes place in Gradius year 6842, two years after Gradius III.

External links

Characters and ships Vic ViperLord British (Lord British)• Saber Tiger and Thrasher (Iggy Rock and Zowie Scott) • Van Landroth FrehleyLars XVIIISuper CobraGalaxyPurple EmperorRed Devil
Salamander stages Bionic GermMeteorite SpaceBurning ChaosVolcano AreaSalamander Planetoid
Salamander (MSX) stages Top Flight Speed to LatisConduct to Space Station ZotSet the Crush Blow System - Planet EioneusSet the Crush Blow System - Planet LaviniaSet the Crush Blow System - Planet KierkeWrath of VenomCrush Salamander
Life Force-only stages Organic Speed ZoneTemple Zone
Salamander 2 stages Sub-life SpaceProminence FortressBio HazardHuge BattleshipAsteroidDoom Fortress
Salamander bosses GolemTetranIntruderFortress ValisDeathBig Core X3Jumping MoaiZelos Force
Port exclusive bosses ZylomGawGigaTutankhamonDead EndEnigmaTrue VenomMetal SlaveZelos Barrier
Salamander 2 bosses BiterHydraAbadonTenny RopPlate CoreCerberusDoom
Gradius video games
Gradius series GradiusGradius IIGradius IIIGradius GaidenGradius IV: FukkatsuGradius GalaxiesGradius VGradius ReBirthGradius: The Interstellar AssaultGradius NEOGradius NEO Imperial
Spin-offs Salamander (Life Force) (MSX ver.)• Salamander 2Nemesis 2 (Nemesis '90 Kai) • Nemesis 3Nemesis (Game Boy)Cosmic WarsSolar Assault
Parody games ParodiusParodius Da!Gokujō Parodius!Jikkyō Oshaberi ParodiusSexy ParodiusParo WarsOtomedius (Otomedius Gorgeous) • Otomedius Excellent
Other games ScrambleThunder CrossThunder Cross IISpace ManbowForce Gear
Pachislot Gradius: The SlotCR Parodius Da! EXGokuraku Parodius!
Cancelled Vic ViperGradius ArcSalamander HD Remaster