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.