Life Force - Christopher Tupa

Retro Arcade Art By CTupa: Life Force (1986)

Christopher Tupa has certainly chosen a classic title for this Retro Arcade Art offering. Although in this case Life Force was not a game I played in the arcade. Indeed I hadn’t even heard of it until it was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987. While that may be so, Life Force is a shining example of the multi-scrolling shooter genre!

Right off the bat we have an interesting fact for you. When the game was originally released it was known as Salamander. In fact it was considered to be a spin-off of the popular arcade game Gradius. When released in the United States it gained the Life Force moniker. Later the re-release in the arcades of Japan took the new name as well as in Europe, where the game was known as Life Force: Salamander!

Image courtesy of the Arcade Flyer Archive.

In the game, Players take control of the Vic Viper. A legendary series of ‘space ships’ that Konami has used in numerous games. Everything from Super Bomberman R to Yu-Gi-Oh! as a matter of fact. In Life Force a second player is able to take control of a ship known as Lord British.

Of course you might be asking yourself where the action takes place? In the North American version, Konami added a bit of text at the beginning of the game. Explaining that the Player was entering a giant bio-mechanical being, known as the Sentinel XR1. Radiation has caused a tumor to grow and activate the XR1’s antibiotics, which will see you as an enemy. With the added mandate that you must you must save the life force of the being at all costs!
Life Force - Sentinel XR1 Text

So basically the Player is thrust into an incredibly hostile version of 1966’s Fantastic Voyage. Not only must you contend with flying enemies, exploding obstacles, and enemy fire. But the landscape itself will attempt to thwart you, expanding or altering it’s shape. If a Player isn’t on their toes they might find themselves slamming into a wall that wasn’t there before.
Life Force - Body Defenses

Did I also mention that Life Force is both a horizontal as well as vertical shooter? Every other stage, of which there are six, changes to a vertical view. The gameplay then of course becomes something similar to Capcom’s 1942!
Life Force - Vertical

Now there is a lot against you in the game and you will certainly be hard pressed to keep up. Thankfully the Vic Viper has some pretty impressive weaponry to say the least. Much like Gradius, Players are able to pick up a variety of weapons and upgrades.
Life Force - Vic Viper - Weapon Selection

Now that you know the basics of Life Force, why not watch a full longplay?

[Via] World of Longplays

As always with CTupa’s Retro Arcade Art project, you can purchase the artwork featured in this post. The originals are ink and watercolor and are 5″x7″ on 8.5″x11″ size paper. You can hop on over to Christopher’s Official Site to contact him as well as check out more artwork from his project!

I hope you won’t forget to check out CTupa’s previous entries in his Retro Arcade Art project as well!

Did you know there was also an OVA for Life Force/Salamander?


There certainly was and it was released on VHS and Laserdisc between 1988 and 1989. Three episodes in fact, although these aren’t considered canon. It’s still fun however and has many elements from the arcade game in the series.

[Via] Alex Hoch

VicSage

Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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