Life Force
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  • Konami
  • Konami
  • Action - Shooter - 2D (example - Thunder Force)
  • 1988
  • 1 or 2
  • No
  • 2
  • $6.00
  • ?
10  |  Life Force: Nobody Does It Better
Scoots , 10/24/2003 7:23:54 AM
If some abnormally frivolous scientist ever comes up with a way to finally prove, without a doubt, what the single best shooter is for the NES, I’d put my money on Life Force taking the honor. Quite simply, it is the benchmark against which all other shooters must be judged. It is one of the games, along with Castlevania, Contra, and Blades of Steel, that cemented Konami’s status as among the very best game developers of the day. The sequel to the equally excellent Gradius, Life Force takes the formula Konami developed for the original, tweaks it, rams some PCP in its face, pokes it a few times to get it angry, and then turns it loose on your unsuspecting control deck.

The action is fast and furious right from the get-go, as swarms of enemies come at you from every which way. Luckily, Vic Viper is no slouch. Keep your wits about you and blast every single thing that moves. If someone in the room gets up for a drink, blast them too--it’s the only way to be sure. You’ll be scrabbling for power-ups like a drowning man clutching for a life preserver. You know the drill: speed ups, missiles, lasers, shields, and more; all for the taking, if you’ve got the reflexes and the cojones, that is. To paraphrase the Stygian witches, “they’re not just going to give them to you…as a present!”

So far this is pretty much a rehash of Gradius, eh, is that what you’re thinking? Let level 2 disabuse you of any such notions. Here’s something new—top down action! In one of the more marked improvements over the original, Life Force alternates side-scrolling with a top-down view every other level. The other big difference over its predecessor is that now two players can play simultaneously. Contra may actually be a more fitting prequel to this game than Gradius, with it’s frenetic action, alternating views, and simultaneous play. The famous “Konami Code” even works the same way here, giving you 30 lives instead of full weapons, as in in Gradius.

That’s where similarities to both games end though, as Life Force asserts its own personality harder than Blossom at a poetry slam. A wealth of dangerous and varied levels await you, each promising wave after brutal wave of intensely unfriendly inhabitants. Great unique bosses and the treacherous landscape make those 30 lives seem a lot less like cheating; after the 10th time your ship is consumed by a huge tongue of fire in the lava world, your ethical quandary will seem like a distant memory. Life Force earns 10/10 and I'll fight any one who says otherwise.

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