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Hellfire S - The Another Story

version: jp - year: 1991 - developer: nec avenue / toaplan - publisher: nec avenue - format: pc engine, hucard - condition: good, w/o spine - rarity: slight


Hellfire S (S for Special?) is an enhanced port of the original Toaplan arcade board


The exclusive PCE cutscenes are simply gorgeous


The Egyptian theme is very original


Hellfire S is a much easier game compared to the coin op or the MD port


Graphics are very colorful but unfortunately most of the parallax scrolling is missing



Review - Hellfire was originally released by Toaplan in 1989, and it was then ported first to Mega Drive in 1990 by NCS/Masiya and then it made it to PCE CD in 1991 with the awkward name Hellfire S The Another Story.

While the MD port is among the hardest shooters I ever came across, the difficulty in this PCE port has been greatly reduced.

So what are the main differences between the two versions?

For one thing in Hellfire S, checkpoints are gone since when you lose a ship, you continue exactly from where you last died.

Also, enemy ships don't shoot as many projectiles while extra lives are awarded more often.

Finally, the limit of 10 continues allowed in the MD port has been generously replaced by infinite continues.

This means that Hellfire on PCE feels almost like a different game compared to the MD port. To further differentiate this version from the MD one, Nec included a lot of nicely drawn anime cutscenes which truly add a lot of atmosphere to the game.

Also, the 2 players mode from the arcade game returned in this version (it was dropped in the MD port) while the music sounds truly fantastic and takes full advantage of the CD format.

Graphically, the PCE version looks definitely convincing and is more colorful than its MD counterpart.

To be honest though, I must say that despite these enhancements, Hellfire S is not the ultimate Hellfire port I was expecting. After all the good stuff I said about it, how is that possible you might be asking yourself?!

In all truth, PCE Hellfire is missing some important elements. For example, the playing field isn't as big as the Mega Drive version (which even slightly scrolls vertically) while most of the parallax backgrounds have been eliminated, maybe to be able to handle the 2 players simultaneous mode.

The annoying slowdown of the MD port has been eliminated but unfortunately, there is some noticeable flickering when too many things happen on screen.

Moreover, sound effects sound inexplicably worse than on Mega Drive while in the weapons department, the very useful POD is simply missing.

In the end, Hellfire S is certainly more accessible than either the coin op or the MD versions. It represents a good option for people who feel like experiencing the game from start to finish without having to go through the nerve-wrecking and almost impossible to finish MD game.

Me, I finished the PCE game first and now I'm going back to the MD game after 15 years I haven't literally touched it. I eventually made my new record by being able to reach the boss of level 4 and then I was actually able to finish that version too!!

To conclude, Hellfire S provides a way more manageable challenge and probably most of you will find it more fun to play.

I just can't shake that feeling off me when I play it of going through a lesser game though: Hellfire S feels watered down compared to the harsh and unforgiving MD experience. For this reason, I still prefer the MD port over this one. Going the way of the warrior, that's what shooters should be about!!

Bottom line: a decent shooter, but the challenge is watered down compared to the mighty mega drive port....6,5/10










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