Another classic single-screen shoot ’em up from Jeff Minter – that is the sequel to his earlier game, Laser Zone. Hellgate was published by Llamasoft in 1983 for the VIC-20 and further refines Minter‘s ideas for X and Y shooters.
You control two pairs of guns that move along the outside walls of a box and shoot inward. Spawning attack waves of enemies will try to touch your guns and destroy them, but you can move them off one end of the screen and make them reappear at the other end, creating a movement cycle in a loop. This is a key detail to remember when trying to survive in Hellgate. If it looks like you’re going to get ‘got’ by an enemy, move off the screen at the other side and try to avoid getting ‘got’. And keep that going until you’ve cleared an attack wave. And keep that going until you get a high score… LOL.
Gameplay in Hellgate is difficult to keep going for more then a few seconds at a time the truth be told, but it is intense when you get on a roll and start killing stuff in earnest. The audio is beefy and keeps the action pumping along. Hellgate is promising from young Minter, but not yet the breakout success that he wanted. Still, more was to come from him on this single-screen shooter format, with Voidrunner in 1987. This was, however, Jeff‘s last commercial game for the VIC-20, which he had supported throughout the early 1980s.
Ports of Hellgate were released for the Commodore 64 and C16/Plus 4 in 1984.
More: Hellgate on Moby Games