Ads are gone. We're using Patreon to raise funds so we can grow. Please pledge support today!
Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All
Hellfire (Genesis) artwork

Hellfire (Genesis) review


"This review has big plans. It tells me it wants to be the most useful review I’ve written so far. I’ve written some pretty ones, and some gushy ones, and a good share of tripe, along with the odd nostalgic recollection. But never something this entirely useful. Because let’s face it: the only way you’ll even give Hellfire a second glance even at the miniscule prices it will sell for at a pawn shop, is if you’re a hardcore horizontal shooter fan. And so you are that. And so, almost certainly, you won’t hesitate to give up your McDonald’s apple pie money for Hellfire in order to get your 16-bit blast on. I can’t stop you. I won’t even try."



This review has big plans. It tells me it wants to be the most useful review I’ve written so far. I’ve written some pretty ones, and some gushy ones, and a good share of tripe, along with the odd nostalgic recollection. But never something this entirely useful. Because let’s face it: the only way you’ll even give Hellfire a second glance even at the miniscule prices it will sell for at a pawn shop, is if you’re a hardcore horizontal shooter fan. And so you are that. And so, almost certainly, you won’t hesitate to give up your McDonald’s apple pie money for Hellfire in order to get your 16-bit blast on. I can’t stop you. I won’t even try.

But should that pawn shop scenario befall you any time soon, I’d like to think that your two dollar decision was an informed one. Consider this effort, ''review as expectation-smasher.'' And thus, the truth up front: Hellfire is hell! Your ship is excruciatingly slow, your weapons painfully feeble – until you’re powered up. Then things seem smooth enough… until… BAM! The game assails you with unkind R-Type-ish unforeseen difficulties, so you’ll likely only be going well once per play session: near the start. Inevitably you’ll die once and get sent back to some checkpoint, once again hatefully slow and feeble, and from there it’s just relentless death until your credits run dry.

Good! Knowing this truth going in will help prepare you, and you won’t be so disappointed. (And really, should you be, you cheapskate? The game cost you two lousy dollars! Two!) Now that you’re ready for Hellfire’s crappiness, I will sit with you and be there for you as you endure it, thus furthering my continuing campaign of usefulness.

In case you forgot: you are a single-minded demographic – I know you well because I am one of you. You’re not interested in the lameness of Guild of the Ultra-Mech and his darkening of the cosmos, and of Lancer (that’s you) and his Sylphide spaceship on its mission to bring back the light. You need only know if Hellfire crushes. And it sure as hell does not.

The graphics range from unsightly, to “huh? Oh, is that what that is? Yawn.” From black construction paper outer space to unremarkable alien outposts, banality has never been so comfy. The few standout scenes – like the pyramids that house the giant sarcophagus, and the eldritch (yes, I really typed eldritch!) alien forest that serves as home to pink robot walkers – are decent scenarios marred by an 8-bit level of detail. The music is uncannily similar to the tunes from Truxton, and this isn’t a good thing for most folks. It’s that metallic, loud, dirty Japanese no-name shooter techno, and no single level tune will shout its independence. Hellfire’s uninteresting presentation collapses any hope of atmosphere like a lung. But with supreme, ideal intensity, the project can be salvaged.

Brilliant as you are, shooter fan, you know already that it hasn’t been, don’t you? Sure, the power up system is sweetly creative. The game provides all four weapon types from the get-go, so the pilot need only find power ups to thicken laser beams and add weight to the currents. Shoot forward, back, up/down, or in four diagonal directions. The latter is usually the best choice because it supplies the best screen coverage, but the game will call the other three to duty almost as often, so there’ll be lots of weapon toggling. And it gets clever.

No bit is cleverer than level five's outpost sequence; it's Hellfire's thinking man's shooter piece de resistance! It shows us just how passionately the weapon system can make love to level design when the latter is submissive. The mission tucks gunpods away in nooks and crannies that are always hard to reach for at least two weapons, fairly easy to reach for the third, and an easy target for the fourth. This is what you’re looking for out of Hellfire: your brain crunching solutions to screens fraught with enemy problems, your fingers slipping, manic, through weapon selections.

What you’re not looking for from Hellfire, is unfortunately much more prevalent. After an encouraging start, levels three through six will murder you often and with impunity, smashing through your one-hit shield, displacing you at cold checkpoints where you’ll invariably be needing immediate speed and power ups to stand half a chance of competing again – and you won’t get them. At first, you’ll welcome the challenge of trying to select the combination of weapon and ship situation that will best accommodate your recovery until power ups are within reach. You'll sweat and scramble and use up your tiny stock of special 'whoa, that's IT?' Hellfire beams to try to buy some time like a vertical shooter's smart bomb... but then you’ll realize that having to fight this hard to get back on the horse at these back-to-life junctures is a circumstance that is as insuperable, as un-fun as it is just plain stupid as fuck.

Hellfire can be fun to play, because it's smart, but most of your time will be spent recovering from unforeseeable crashes; you spend more time being dragged about with one foot in one stirrup than enjoying the ride from the saddle proper.

On a completely unrelated note, Hellfire S for the Turbo Duo, does not employ a checkpoint system, allows a friend to tag along with you for your mission, has hot anime babes, and bathes your ears in aural butter. This tangent-as-summation is going to make sense to you after you play this inferior game, love the unique weapons setup, but inevitably derive a ridiculously low fun factor from the experience. We both know you’re still going to download this or buy it for nothing, or else steal it – also for nothing. Just be aware that when you discover how small the coolness of its switchable weapon system is in the context of the package, you’ll immediately look to Hellfire S – a good game that has made this bad game unnecessary – and you'll confirm for yourself what I know now: Hellfire is an ugly, mean-spirited husk of a sweet shoot-em-up.

And to us – to you, to me – that’s not at all useful.

Rating: 3/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (April 03, 2004)

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by Marc Golding
My Hero (Sega Master System) artwork
My Hero (Sega Master System)

You play the role of The Hero, but you look like Edward Carnby, specifically from Alone in the Dark 2, right down to the blue leisure suit and pitiful death sequences. You are the strapping, golden-domed captain of the football team, enjoying a sunset with your prudish girlfriend on the beach, besotting her with...
Silent Hill HD Collection (Xbox 360) artwork
Silent Hill HD Collection (Xbox 360)

I am not enamoured of any two old games slapped together (just Silent Hill 2 and 3 in this case) being called a “collection” in the first place, especially given how easily Silent Hill 4: The Room (of the same ‘era’) could have been included for more value if not quality. Moreover, the third instal...
Silent Hill: Downpour (Xbox 360) artwork
Silent Hill: Downpour (Xbox 360)

Some might argue that the canon was lost once it left the hands of its original developers; since that time it has been passed from studio to studio, each with ingenuous intentions of making the first ‘next gen’ standout. Regrettably, that still hasn’t happened.

Feedback

If you enjoyed this Hellfire review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Site Policies & Ethics | Contact | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Hellfire is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Hellfire, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.