Hellfire review - Sega Megadrive

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Hellfire box artThose double-crossing alien slime have gone too far! In a fit of ruthless destruction they've completely taken over six strategically vital, horizontally scrolling sectors of Earth-Space and fortified them to the max. It's down to a real hero to go in and clean up the alien mess. The whole of civilisation needs one man to pilot a Hellfire class attack craft into the danger-zone and meet the whole of the alien fleet in a battle to the last.

But these aliens aren't a bunch of thickies. They've drafted in the best battle-crusiers their alien money can buy, and add to that the terrfying legions of swarming alien craft - this isn't going to be easy! But not everything alien is totally hostile. Certain alien craft are shot to release power-ups that provide Hellfire pilots with the necessary blasting power in order to overcome even the most well-armoured alien battle-craft.

But it's not just the enormous enemy fleet that has to be destroyed. Marauding aliens don't hang about, and they've created plenty of nasty installations that are blasted in order cleanse the sector of all alien occupation - as well as getting a huge amount of points into the bargain.

Even with a huge amount of mega-weaponry at the Hellfire's disposal, the aliens have still got one horrific trump card up their collective sleeve. They've created huge end-of-level guardians with one aim in life - to kill any plucky hero-types who think they can stand up to the alien empire!

What the Mean Machines staff thought


" Toaplan's coin-op was simply superb and I'm glad to say that this Megadrive conversion not only captures the amazing graphics, sound and playability of the coin-op - but even adds to it! The music must get a special mention. The game's full of groovy tunes that suit the frenetic blasting action perfectly. Everything about the game is just so polished and feels so good - I defy you not to be addicted by this shoot 'em classic! Hellfire is a flamin' good arcade classic. Put it at the top of your shopping list - NOW! "

" My local arcade has a Hellfire coin-op, and many ten pees have I pumped into it - it's a brilliant blast! And so is this conversion. It's not arcade perfect - in fact, it's arcade better. The graphics and sounds are indistijnguishable from the original, but there are more weapons available than in the coin-op and two different difficulty levels! The gameplay is truly superb, and I love the four different modes of firepower. On later levels the baddies attack from all directions, and you have to use them all to survive! If you've got an imported Megadrive and are after a superlative shoot 'em up, this is it! "


Overall Score93%

Retrospective comments


It's a testament to the quality of this title that people still speak highly of it even today. It's one of the Megadrive's finest shooters and is an essential purchase for any fan of the genre. Although the visuals are decidedly average when compared to stuff like Thunderforce IV and Gyoung, Hellfire's weapon system must rank as one of the greatest in any game of this type - and it's thanks to this system that the game is so damned playable. Considering how cheaply you can pick this up for these days, there really is no excuse not to own a copy, especially if you consider yourself a shooting nut. On a side note - this was also released on the PC Engine Super CD-ROM under the name 'Hellfire S', with added anime-style cut scenes.

Richy Girth - 23 Oct 2008, 23:21 GMT

Nicely summed up, Damo.
Particularly in regards to the weapon system.
I cannot criticize this negatively at all. Only bestow praises on it.
It really was one of those "Feels like a coin-op in yer bedroom" moments, this one. Not just because of the similarity to the coin op in terms of graphics and sound, but because of the pace and feel of the gameplay also. The graphics are beautiful in a basic kind of way, relfecting the emphysis on the genius of the gameplay.
This, assembled net peeps, is shoot 'em up crack.
With the constant shifting of blaster angles to fit the weak points of the targets, (which all are ready to assail your arse to kingdom come) the destruction in this game feels like the perfect hybrid between snooker and nuclear warfare.

Prepare to play it, then accept your love of it.

Nuff said.

Tris Wicks - 05 Nov 2008, 03:00 GMT

Why can't other shooters plagiarize the Hellfire weapon system?
Because they know in their hearts people would say "Look, you've used the awesome Hellfire weapon system, well done" and they'd feel creatively bankrupt OH senseless pride, just FEED ME GAMES AS GREAT AS THIS ONE

Lemo - 28 Jan 2009, 22:07 GMT

I used to play this all the time at my local arcade - until it was released for Megadrive, that is. One of my all-time favorite shoot em ups for sure.

Only one thing has always bugged me about this game. If you die, you lose all your weapons. And in this game, that sucks big time.

Godpikachu - 10 Feb 2009, 14:39 GMT

This game is one of the games that defines the word "classic".
From the same people that brought us "all your base are belong to us", sorry, zero wing, comes another side scrolly shooter, one of many, many such exmples in the MD back catalogue.

What mkes this one different is that unlike other side scroller shooters, you dont have to spend your time mucking about hunting for differet weapons, because you already have them built in to your ship, the powerups exist simply to improve the power of your weapons and to give your ship a boost in times of need.

This is a good idea, and often imitated since, because it then means that you can concentrate on blowing shit up instead of being preoccupied with wondering where your next powerup is coming from.

the controls work smoothly, and the inclusion of an optional autofire function is great, as i am of the opinion that if a shooter game doesnt use autofire, then it needs to cut down on the number of enemies or vice versa, as when the screen gets busy you dont want to be getting finger cramp from bashing buttons.

the bad guys are nice and varied, and the introduction of some of them being hidden and only destroyable with a certain weapons configuration makes this a think em up as well as a shoot em up.
Also, the screen doesnt get too busy too quickly, which gets really annoying in some games and really hampers their satisfaction factor.
The graphics are nice and bright and clear for the time, you know where you are and what you should be shooting at, plus the terrain is well defined so you know that that thing rapidly coming towards you is gonna kill you if you crash into it.

Musicwise, the in game sounds are spot on, although the MD had some problems with sound playback, you dont notice it during this game.

Overall, probably one of the best shooters ever, not only just on the MD, well worth adding to you MD collection if you can get it.

Dan - 19 Feb 2009, 14:01 GMT

Oh man, I'm I in for some jip. One of those rare times where everyone else loved a game, yet I just didn't fall for it. It was just....to me......nothing special. To be fair I only played it a handful of times before givin it back to my mate who id lent it off so can't judge too much, but as of yet im yet to be bitten by the hellfire bug........

Richy Girth - 14 Jul 2009, 15:34 GMT

It'll come, Dan. It'll come....
You've had 20 years almost, but I remain optimistic. :p

Dan - 29 Jun 2010, 11:29 GMT

ha ha, I'll get there Richy :)

John - 10 Apr 2013, 19:04 GMT

The genius of this game is that when you die, your weapons lose strength but none of their functionality. It makes the checkpoints much fairer than in other shooters.

Mean Machines Issue 3 - December 1990
Shoot 'Em Up Sega Megadrive
Buy today!

Mega Game




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