Salamander 2 had slipped under my radar. I had played it for a few moments during one of my "go find some new games" jags, but wasn't compelled for some reason. Boy, was I wrong. Sal2 now jumps way up my list of favorite vertical (and horz) shooters.
The coolest thing about Sal2 is the organic/living/gooey/yucky graphics. They are part art, part cartoon and part quasi-photo-imagined. Worms, eels, monsters and lots of slimy stuff of all kinds and colors attempt to gobble you up as you fly your ship thru an organic, living background that looks like something out of an Alien movie.
There are the traditional controls, shoot and bomb. And the shot can be powered-up mightily. What they do with the bombs is cool and a little different also...when you big up the blue and green (other color?) gel-based gems that float around, they begin encircling you. These are your bombs and each time you use one, it charges up and explodes and then no longer orbits you. However, what is really cool is that if you have multiple ones orbiting you, you can charge up your bomb by holding down the bomb button. As you hold down the button, each gem in turn will charge up (it brightens and glows), you can charge any number of them or all of them. Then, when you release the bomb button, the power of ALL the bombs you charged is unleashed - of course, this uses them up also, so it's time to go collect some more.
One annoying thing about the power-ups and bomb collection - each time you collect one, the game says "option". It gets old quickly and there is no "option" to turn just that word off.
Speed is important and it is one of the power-ups, so collect it quickly, you'll need it. I'm actually not a fan of games that use speed as a power-up, it's just too frustrating when you are slow. And speaking of speed, you have to watch out for the landscape. You can run into cave walls and things that appear to be background and die. There were a few times I crashed when I didn't realize it was something to watch out for. This is especially an issue in Sal2 because the background is so busy with cool stuff. On the bright side, for a few moments when you are reincarnated, you are invincible. Not just as far as taking hits, but you can use your ship to crash into the enemy and wipe them out en masse (like the old school game "Vanguard").
The last thing to point out (as I mentioned in the intro)... Salamander 2 is a vertical AND a horizontal shooter. Both styles are done well although the art in the horz stages is a little more over the top while the horz stages are more space oriented with big planets type things and lots of fire.
Salamander 2 - where have you been?