To celebrate the publishing of our 700th review, we’ve chosen a shooter that’s aptly named. Toaplan’s Hellfire was released by the shortly-lived Seismic, and it’s pretty darn hard. Though it may not be visually stunning compared to other games in the genre, it’s a great game that offers solid gameplay and a rockin’ soundtrack to compliment its difficulty level.
Early Genesis adopters found many different genres covered by the growing library, including space shooters. Toaplan’s Truxton was one of the earliest examples on the console, and it offered intense action with awesome visuals and engaging gameplay. Even after two decades, the game is still a blast to play, and it remains one of the favorites among shooter fans.
Toaplan gets credit for being one of the pioneers of the Danmaku style of shooter, what we westerners know as the “bullet hell” shmup, and games like Donpachi and Mars Matrix are great examples of this fast paced and ultra twitch style of play. What’s interesting is that it got its roots in a Toaplan game that was eventually ported to the Genesis. Grind Stormer was the first game done by Ikeda Tsunemoto, who eventually went on to work at another shmup haven, Cave. Tengen handled the porting job, and sadly the game suffered in the transition. Flickering graphics hindered what could have been a great game, and our full review has the whole story.
Toaplan’s been behind some great shmups, and a few of them were never released in the U.S. Twin Hawk was one of the rare games that got published by Sega in Europe and Japan, but never flew across the Atlantic. No one knows why, but we were deprived of a solid little shooter that employed some unconventional gameplay dynamics.
Everyone knows Zero Wing. What’s ironic is that the most famous Genesis shmup of all time isn’t known for its gameplay, visuals, or sound. What makes it so special is a hilarious mistranslation in the opening of the PAL version. Toaplan’s “All your base” line will live in infamy for sure, but how does the game itself stand up?