Platform: SEGA Mega Drive / Mega CD
Many of you may fondly remember the wonderful puzzler Benefactor from Psygnosis back in 1994 for the Commodore Amiga, with its tiny main character that would have parallels with titles such as Lemmings and Load Runner.
The success of the title makes it no surprise that a SEGA Mega Drive conversion was in the works back in 1994, but what may have surprised you is just how that conversion was apparently shaping up:
Looking at the above screenshot, it was very different to the Amiga original and seemingly moving away from the puzzler original and moving more into the realm of a Turrican/Assassin style game. That was certainly how Megatech issue 31 was describing the upcoming game due in November 1994. Sega Zone’s coverage in issue 20 also showed the same screenshots and seemingly confirming that the console edition was taking a different direction.
Literally minutes after originally publishing this piece, several followers (including Rob Caporetto) revealed that the game actually turned into a title called Hardcore and had been wanted for many years by Mega Drive fans. A title that had completed passed me by and I hadn’t made the connection with when doing this post. The game was actually unearthed in that form via the Mega SG and had a limited physical release as Ultracore. Here is a video which Rob has done showcasing the game, which you can see is almost identical to the Benefactor shots.
But something still wasn’t right – there was never any mention in the Hardcore press about the game originally being “Benefactor”. Twitter follower @MonstersGo quite rightly questioned it too and so we questioned it again with Fredrik Liljegren – who confirmed that the magazines had cocked up and showed Hardcore screenshots with the Benefactor news pieces. It must have been a press release cock up, which explains everything.
This means that Benefactor on the SEGA Mega Drive was indeed to be a proper conversion of the Amiga puzzler. The development team was confirmed to be Digital Illusions, and a text interview with Fredrik Liliegren confirmed that the developer was Thomas Andersson, with graphics by Patrik Bergdahl.
We didn’t hear back from the developer and artist in time for publication (but will update the entry as soon as we do), however Fredrik Liljegren did get back to us and confirmed that the title was cancelled when the publisher decided to exit the Mega Drive market. Digital Illusions therefore wanted to find a new publisher to continue, but the original publisher still held the rights and were unwilling to sell them back to them or a new publisher. That was sadly that.
As a result of the establishment of the game being a proper conversion of the puzzler, we’ve removed the Hardcore screenshots and have just kept the articles with the error image inclusions. It means that there is still a conversion to be found, and hopefully we’ll hear from the developers soon to see if it can be found.
With thanks to Ross Sillifant for the heads up and providing scans from archive.org, Rob Caporetto for the heads up about the screens being Hardcore/Ultracore and @MonstersGo for the prompt to question the legitimacy of the magazine pieces.
Great article, clears up a lot of confusion when looking at those screenshots and remembering the Amiga original’s tiny cuteness.
However, I think there’s a word order error somewhere in there.
‘Showing incorrectly Hardcore screenshots’ doesn’t seem right.
How about ‘incorrectly showing’ instead?
After all, the SHOWING itself is done correctly, it’s just what is shown that is in error.
Thanks again for a great article/post about this Benefactor-confusion.
I was sure that Benefactor, Malfunction and Hardcore/Ultracore were three different games developed separately by Digital Illusions . I read about that in Datormagazine, they have nice section in few issues where they interview devs about different stuff. Honestly I do not believe that Hardcore evolve from Benefactor.
Hi Grzegorz – you’re spot on. It was a press faux pas and they wrongly attributed the Hardcore details and screenshots to Benefactor. I’ve updated the page as a result.
No problem. From time to time I find stuff like that – like wrong game names under screenshots in press previews or some made up stories by magazine editors. Stuff like that got chance to become urban legend if not corrected. In old days many people believe that Bullfrog’s “Magic Carpet” was going to be released for amiga.