Hellfire (video game)

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This article is about the shooting game. For Diablo expansion pack, see Diablo: Hellfire.
Developer(s) Toaplan
Publisher(s) Taito (Arcade),
Seismic Software Inc. (Mega Drive),
NEC Avenue (PC Engine CD-ROM²)
Composer(s) Tatsuya Uemura
Platform(s) Arcade, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, PC Engine CD-ROM²
Release date(s) Arcade Mega Drive/Sega Genesis
  • JP September 28, 1990
  • NA 1991
  • EU 1991
PC Engine CD-ROM²
  • JP April 12, 1991
Genre(s) Scrolling shooter
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Cartridge, CD-ROM

Hellfire (ヘルファイヤー?) is a 1989 scrolling shooter video game developed by Toaplan and published by Taito. The game was initially released in the arcades before it was ported to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and the PC Engine CD-ROM², the latter under the name Hellfire S. Hellfire S contained notable differences from the other versions, including a remixed, more orchestral soundtrack, animated cut scenes, and the replacement of the leading male character Lancer with a female character called Kaoru (voiced by voice actress Yumi Tōma).


Hellfire is a horizontally scrolling shooter, one of Toaplan's two alongside Zero Wing (compare to their library of vertical games).

Players take control of a small spaceship named the 'CNCS1' and manoeuvre through several different locations set in space. In similar fashion to many other space shooters of the late eighties and early nineties, the game is split up into a series of stages that automatically scroll along on a 2D plane as players destroy basic enemies, middle bosses part of the way through some of the stages, and a tougher boss at the end.

One of the more unique features found in Hellfire is the ability to fire in different directions by changing the colour of your ship. The CNCS1 ship individually cycles through the colours Pink, Yellow, Green and Blue.

  • Pink fires missiles from the front in a horizontal state.
  • Yellow allows the opposite, firing from the behind.
  • Green has two guns firing at once, shooting above and below the ship vertically.
  • Blue adds two more shots to this, firing four guns from each corner of the ship diagonally.

This firing system helps give Hellfire a more tactical edge to its gameplay, as different colours work more effectively in different situations. More experienced players can cycle through the different colours rapidly, making complete use of the four different firing types. To keep balance in the game, no matter which colour players pick for their ship they will always be vulnerable from one direction or another.

Hellfire also sports many upgrades and power-ups. that can be collected throughout stages, ultimately altering the ships appearance. The power-ups range from simply granting the player more firepower by upgrading the ships projectiles to adding an over shield, increasing defense. Once a life is lost however, all power-ups are removed and the CNCS1 ship reverts to its most basic state.

Furthermore, the Mega Drive version contains a new "special weapon", a powerful laser. This weapon is stockpiled by collecting the appropriate icon, and fired with the C button.


The story to Hellfire takes place in 2998, where man has reached a great point in galactic travel and colonization with the help of a peaceful society. However, a mysterious space matter known as Black Nebula appears and starts engulfing different stars before reaching man's latest colonized galaxy. It is eventually revealed that the force behind this matter is Super Mech, a mysterious robotic dictator from the farthest regions of space with the only intention to destroy any resistance that it and its massive space armada faces.

A Space Federation member known only as Captain Lancer decides to initiate a surprise attack against Super Mech by piloting the only available space fighter craft, the CNCS1, loaded with the strongest weapon available in the galaxy: Hellfire.

In the arcade and Mega Drive versions, Lancer returns safely to Earth after having defeated the Black Nebula. The PC Engine CD-ROM version features a more poignant ending, with the main character Kaoru taking her own life in a heroic act of self-sacrifice in order to save the Earth.


The music in Hellfire was composed by Tatsuya Uemura.


Review scores
Publication Score
MegaTech 93%[1]
Mean Machines 93%[2]
Publication Award
MegaTech Hyper Game

MegaTech magazine said it was "a slick and very good looking blaster which oozes playability". Mega placed the game at #4 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.[3]


  1. ^ MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, page 78, May 1992
  2. ^ http://www.outofprintarchive.com/articles/reviews/MegaDrive/Hellfire-MeanMachines3-3.html
  3. ^ Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992

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