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Benefactor logo

Man bediene sich bei den flüssigen Animationen von “Flashback” und würze mit viel Tüftelei à la “Lemmings” nach – schon verwandeln sich herkömmliche Plattformlandschaften in eine zünftige Action-Knobelei!

Benefactor Mögen die Zutaten auch alle längst bekannt sein, mehr als aufgewärmte Durchschnittskost hat Psygnosis hier allemal zusammengebrutzelt. Selbst wenn die Hintergrundstory ebenfalls ziemlich altbacken klingt: Die putzigen Bewohner von Lullyat haben Trouble mit ihren streitsüchtigen Nachbarn, die ihre Stammesmitglieder gleich reihenweise entführen. Für Recht, Ordnung, und offene Gefängnistüren soll nun Ben E. Factor sorgen – ein Wortspiel (Benefactor = Wohltäter), das nicht von ungefähr kommt...

Für Beschäftigung in den 60 Levels sorgen u.a. aufzusammelnde Gegenstände wie Schlüssel und Zahnräder, mit denen sich Zellen öffnen oder Maschinen reparieren lassen. Befreite Gefangene unterstützen unseren Helden dann bisweilen, etwas indem sie Seilwinden bedienen. Hebel umlegen oder Fhrstühle aktivieren und damit ihren Artgenossen den Weg zum Levelausgang weisen bzw. Ben sonst unerreichbare Regionen zugänglich machen. Die kleinen Kerlchen lassen sich auch tragen und an bestimmte Stellen heben oder werfen. Allerdings funktioniert diese Form von Teamwork nur mit den cleveren farbigen Jungs, während ihre grauen Kollegen im Zweifelsfall eher die Verliererstraße wählen: Sie laufen nach ihrer Befreiung planlos umher und stürzen vielleicht sogar in einem Abgrund, was dann zum vorzeitigen Game Over führt. Man sollte die Dummchen daher schleunigst zu einer der (zuvor mit Farbe aufgefüllten) Einfarbemaschinen dirigieren, wo ihnen das nötige Gehirnschmalz verpaßt wird. Tja, und so ganz nebenbei wollen Ben auch noch alle ebenso zahlreichen wie kontaktfreudigen Gegner ans Leder – was einen Computerhelden mit nur einem kümmerlichen Bildschirmleben ganz schön in Bedrängmis bringen kann. Zum Ausgleich findet man immer wieder Erste-Hilfe-Boni, die den Energiehaushalt schnell wieder auf Vordermann bringen.

Benefactor Der sichtbare Ausschnitt der mehrere Screens umfassenden und mit Paßwörtern versehenden Levels scrollt horizontal, und das sehr flüssig. Für die richtige Orientierung sorgt eine Karte des gesamten Abschnitts am unteren Rand. Okay, die Sprites sind zwar unglaublich winzig, aber nett animiert: Benn kann z.B. Purzelbäume schlagen, sich elegant an Plattformen hochhangeln oder über den Boden rollen. Wenn die Grafik hier also auch niemanden vom Hocker reißen wird, so ist sie doch detailliert gezeichnet und genauso abwechslungsreich wie die Musik- bzw. FX-Begleitung. Zu guter Letzt läßt auch die Sticksteuerung nichts zu wünschen übrig, und über mangelnden Spielspaß kann man erst recht nicht klagen.

Fazit: Obwohl das Suchtpotential dieser “Techno-Lemmings” nicht ganz an das der klassischen Selbstmörder heranreicht, dürfen digitale Wohltäter getrost zur wohligen Tat schreiten – sooo viele knobelige Jump & Runs gibt es ja auch wieder nicht... (st)

Amiga Joker, August 1994, p.18

BENEFACTOR
(PSYGNOSIS)
PLATTFORM - TUFTELEI
76%
"NIEDLICH"
Amiga Joker
GRAFIK
ANIMATION
MUSIK
SOUND-FX
HANDHABUNG
DAUERSPAß
64%
72%
68%
64%
76%
79%
FÜR FORTGESCHRITTENE
PREIS DM 89,-
SPEICHERBEDARF
DISKS/ZWEITFLOPPY
HD-INSTALLATION
SPEICHERBAR
DEUTSCH
1 MB
3/JA
NEIN
NEIN
ANLEITUNG


Benefactor logo

This is almost certainly your only chance to save the ‘merry men’ of Lullyat. Or so it says here.

Game: Benefactor
Runs on: A500, A1200
Publisher: Psygnosis
Author: Digital Illusions
Price: £25.99
Release: July

Y Benefactor ou know, I am getting pretty damned sick of playing games that are ‘all right’. It is simple to rave about great ones, but it is a total drag to have to work my way through ones that could have been great but just tailed off somewhere in the production stage. Like this one. There are fast paced games and there are medium paced games. Then there is slow paced games, extremely slow paced games, pedestrian paced games, zimmer-frame paced games, and somewhere below that, there is Benefactor.

Now I am not talking about the speed the characters move (although when I think about it, they hardly whoosh across the screen) or the scale of the levels (which are huge and take your slow moving character eons to traverse) but more about the length of time it appears to take you to finish a level. Civilisations have risen and fallen into disrepair faster than this. The problem lies with the yawning chasm between working out exactly what you have got to do to complete a level, and then actually getting past the boring monsters, annoying jumps and tedious instant death falls to complete the sodding thing. Aaaaargggghhhhhh! Call me old fashioned, but I have always thought that puzzle games are supposed to be challenging, thought-provoking AND entertaining? This one is not.

Which is a shame, because on the face of it, Benefactor looks great. It is one of those save-‘em-up games like Lemmings and Sleepwalker, where you have got to rescue little creatures and guide them safely to their den. In this case, you are a marine and the creatures are little fluffy gonk things that have been locked up in an attempt to take over the planet, or some similar such rubbish. Suffice to say that you are a human, they are not and that there is lots of nasty alien things just gagging to sink their teeth into your protein-rich nether regions.

IN YER FACE
The most obvious thing about the game is the teeny-weeny-itsy-bitsy-tidgy-widgy scale of everything. On a 14 inch monitor, your guy is about the size of a 00-gauge station master from a train set, whereas the gonks are the size of a match-head. When I first started playing, I thought that this tiny scale must have something to do with you needing to see a vast amount of the screen at once, but this just is not the case. Even if you needed to look ahead all the time, the game lets you scroll the screen around, so why the tiny figures? I really do not know, maybe the programmers did not feel like or could not be bothered with presenting us with huge, realistic looking Flashback-esque characters, or perhaps they thought that tiny figures would be somehow cute and endearing. They are not.

LET ME OUT
To complete each level, you have got to find keys to unlock each gonk’s cell, and then get them back to a teleporter, but obviously it is not plain sailing. For a start, the gonks cannot jump, so they just walk up to edges and stand there until you pick them up and jump across gaps or throw them up to higher platforms. Occasionally you come across machinery such as lifts and cranes that you cannot operate, but the gonk can, in which case they will help each other and escape. I am talking about coloured gonks now, which are fairly helpful, but there is also black and white ones, which are major league pains. The wander off the wrong direction, bad mouth their parents and are generally gonks from the wrong side of the street, but there is, thankfully, a solution to these delinquent fluff balls – paint. All you have to do is find a can of paint, pour it into the top of a paint tube and then chuck the offending monochrome nasty down the pipe to produce an instant coloured one. See? It is easy when you know how.

And that is it for the gameplay, with all subsequent levels being variations on the theme of collecting various items in the correct order and charting the right course around the platforms. You come upon doorways which take you to different parts of the level (à la Dizzy), you find cool little rope slides and springy platforms to bounce across large gaps and as you progress, there is more to do, more baddies to work your way past and more black and white gonks.

Benefactor DEAD AND DUMB
Unfortunately, there is also more and more stupid ways to get killed. Get this – long drops kill you. Did that not go out with flares? There is also masses of random baddies like birds and bees and things that cause you serious and often entirely unavoidable damage when you least deserve it. You can also spend anything up to five minutes trawling round a level only to fall into a room where there is no escape, so you have to quit out of the game and do the whole flipping thing again. Annoying and tiresome? You betcha.

Continuing on that gripes and moans thing, there is the control system. Once you are on ladders, you cannot jump off them and many of the jumps are of the annoying pixel-perfect variety where you have to be on the last pixel on the ledge to make it. If you are just one pixel away, you fall to your death. I have got doubts about this 16-40 pixel jump business as well. The idea is that you hold down fire to jump and when your bloke has gone far enough, you let go. This is all very well and good when you just need to leap across a gap, but when you are trying to jump onto a small moving platform with lethal spikes underneath, you invariably miss. And die. And spend the next five minutes getting back to that point again. It also makes it difficult to jump on the run, so stopping at every ledge breaks up the flow.

This is not enjoyable, or entertaining, or even particularly challenging and with one unavoidable death after another, it is just bloody annoying. This is a shame, because I enjoyed the demo we had on AP 36 and was looking forward to playing the full version. Looking back on it, I reckon you got the best bits for free, and the complete version, great to look at though it may be, gets the ‘Throw A Joystick Across The Room In Frustration’ award for completely annoying gameplay, while the disks get chucked in the corner of the AMIGA POWER office where all the other mediocre things live.
CAM WINSTANLEY

Amiga Power, Issue 39, July 1994, p.p.36-37



"More and more stupid ways to get killed"


Upper UPPERS Good animation, colourful and varied backgrounds and loads and loads of levels that frequently give you a feeling of well being and smugness when you complete them.
Downer DOWNERS Long and complex levels without restart points, so if you mess up, you have got to go through it all again, some of the most annoying music of all time, pointlessly small graphics, and hundreds of new, unusual and completely arbitrary points that either kill you instantly or trap you. Oh, and if you fall too far, it kills you. Great.

THE BOTTOM LINE
For every level that is fun to do, there is one that annoys the hell out of you, and for each Nice Touch in the game, there is a Bad Thing to go with it. More often than not, the silly things get in the way of enjoying a game, and if we ever do a Complete Control section on it, count me out.
57

P E R C E N T

THE BOTTOM LINE

A1200 An altogether more expensive way to scream at your computer and pound your head against the TV in annoyance.



Benefactor logo CU Amiga Screen Star

"What sort of benefactor is this then?" Cried Alan Dykes as he searched Psygnosis' box for cash or the deeds to a stately home in rural blighty. As usual he had got it all wrong.

Benefactor Benefactor is not the game of the story of a kindly old man who bequeaths a fortune to some unsuspecting soul or charity. It is the game of the story of a kindly young man who happens to be an interplanetary do-gooder, an expert deep space survivor, and the owner of the naffest tracksuit and trainers combination seen this side of Rocky 1. Ben E. Factor is his name (and an original one at that - it ranks up there alongside D. Fens) and helping helpless people is his game.
And the people of Lullyat are in dire need of help. Known collectively as the Merry Men they are a happy race of souls whose tranquil life has been ruined by hostile neighbours (the Miniatians) who have imprisoned some of their leaders on the six moons of Minniat and stolen their most precious and joy giving icon, the Rainbow Machine.

A one-player game, Benefactor can best be described as a cross between Prince of Persia and Lemmings. The main sprite, although small, is reasonably detailed (you can see his goofy tracksuit) and he moves smoothly. Running, jumping, climbing and rolling are all executed in a manner reminiscent of Prince, while the main object of the game - rescuing the Merry Men on each of the six moons - is the bit that's reminiscent of Lemmings.
On each level there are several Merry Men to release, but getting the sequence right is very important. Merry Men can fix ladders and winches, chop their way through levels and operate mechanisms, all of which are designed to help you free others or help the little grey men get to the colouring machine. There is a map function which allows you scan the entire level and this helps you locate keys, Merry Men and enemies.

Most Merry Men are well-rounded individuals, and this is reflected in their bright colouring. But there are a few who are more trouble than they're worth - the grey ones mentioned above. Naughty devils to a man, these little lads need to be whisked away to a colouring machine pronto, before they send you to an early grave. Like sleepwalkers, grey Merry Men will keep going until they either walk over the edge of a precipice or are smartened up with the colouring machine. Thus you have to keep a close eye on them, picking them up and depositing them back to safety every now and then. In fact this game sounds as though Benetton should have sponsored it: simply by making Merry Men more colourful life immediately improves. Art mirrors life, eh? Or something.

ENEMIES
Benefactor No game would be complete without enemies and the moons of Minniat are absolutely swarming with them: though moon men they ain't. It would appear that the Minniatians have kicked every single nasty creature of their planet and on to these moons in order to make Ben and the Merry Men's life a misery. Ghosts, slugs, birds of prey, walking bees, bats and strange bendy monsters are but a few of the creatures in the way, while all sorts of platforms, ladders and mechanical winches (which need the right components to work) also conspire to hold up the hero. In this respect the Merry Men can be very useful, standing on buttons and pulling levers to make you more mobile.

There is an energy bar along the bottom of the screen and under normal circumstances it's quite difficult to kill yourself, however, fall through one of the trapdoors or run off the edge of a tree without bouncing first and you'll end up dead as a dodo. Another way to finish the game quicker than Lindford Christie in the l00m dash is to allow one of your Merry Men to stray off the edge of a platform or fall into some water. As mentioned before you have to watch them carefully and carry or throw them to safety when necessary. As well as the usual walking and running routines Ben can crouch, roll for ward, jump short or long distances, pick up and store or drop objects. Creatures or shots that can't be avoided one way can usually be jumped past by other means, and brain power is just as important as fast reactions here.

HANDS UP, IT'S A PICK-UP
Picking up objects is also very important. There are the usual power ups to aim for but the most essential things to pick up are keys (which open doors and cages) and Merry Men (yes you have to carry them around too if you want to get things done quickly). Other objects of note are: cogs (which, in the hands of the Merry Men help fix ladders and mechanisms), axes and weights.
Basically, although Ben is fast and strong, he can't do any fixing or fighting himself so rescuing Merry Men is really a two way thing - you need them as much as they need you.

There are six moons, each of which has several zones that inevitably get progressively larger and more difficult as you go along. Strange climates and scenery abound in Benefactor and during the game you will encounter everything from forests to castles, stopping oft along the way for some Egyptian action and a chilly encounter on the ice moon.
Planning a release strategy is essential for completing each level so the mini map on the bottom left hand side of the screen is useful as it gives you some indications if your location and that of the Merry Men. However, by pressing the M button on the keyboard you can scroll around the full size map at your leisure - which is highly recommended. Pressing the fire button returns you to play mode again.

WELL, IT'S GOOD THEN EH?
I must say, when I first started to play Benefactor I was mightily disappointed. I couldn't manage to get my little man to jump far enough, so he kept dying. I also didn't really see the point of rescuing those little Lemming lookalikes, I mean, come on where's the fun? Things soon changed. The first problem was remedied when I changed joysticks - I suddenly found that Ben could jump twice as far, and all those platforms were, after all, well within reach.

The second problem was remedied after I had played Benefactor with my new 'stick for an hour or two. Once you actually get the Merry Men working for you, anything becomes possible. They have a lot of Lemmings cuteness and each level poses new dangers and opportunities for them. You just can't stop sitting back with smug smile on your face when you've set one of them up to winch Ben to safety after you've bungeed him into a difficult spot.

The colourful background graphics work really well; my only real criticism being that it can be difficult to tell where a platform begins or ends on some levels, or indeed if that enemy is actually going to hit you. The sprites are cute (if a tad small) and, once you get used to the various moves, you can really get down to the business of enjoying the game.

It might not look very special when you first load up, but if there was ever a prize for games which improve with playing time, Benefactor would definitely be shortlisted, and would possibly win it. An incredibly addictive cross between platform and puzzle action that will take a while to finish, but will keep you entertained all along the way.

CU Amiga, July 1994, p.p.76-77

SOME OF THOSE ENEMIES AGAIN

Never, ever, visit one of the moons of Miniat on a package holiday. If you thought Marbella was chock full of reprobates then check this small selection of Benefactor's baddies out.
 
Benefactor: Blind, blue slug The blind, blue slug. He's slow, but if your joystick doesn't work (like mine at first) he'll drain away some of your life. Not a serious threat though, as long as you are quick on the joystick.
 
Benefactor: Rock man Rock Man. Fast but not fast enough. Guaranteed to lose you some energy but easy enough to avoid in the long run (hint, hint). He actually looks much worse than he really is.
 
Benefactor: Dragon worm Dragon worm. This one's a bit unexpected at first. One minute you're prancing merrily along, next you're having your butt fried. Very easy to jump over though. Bring along a barbie.
 
Benefactor: Green nasty Green nasty. Bit tricky this one because the's about three times faster than you. If you get caught in the open he'll drain your life, so you'd better stay well clear of him unless you want to feel like a pancake.
 
Benefactor: Teeth of doom The teeth of doom. You'll never walk over a manhole with confidence again. These guys come from nowhere and the only way to avoid them is to do chin ups on the bar above.
 
Benefactor: Rock man with giant back scrubber Rock man with giant back scrubber. Go near the back scrubber and it'll kill you instantly. It is possible to jump over it and use the platforms on the way back, but there are no second chances.
 

PSYGNOSIS £24.95
A500
A1500
A500+
A2000
A600
A3000
A1200
A4000
PSYGNOSIS, UNIT 2, SOUTH HARRINGTON BUILDING, SEFTON STREET, LIVERPOOL L3 48Q. TEL: 051 709 5755
 
RELEASE DATE:
GENRE:
TEAM:
CONTROLS:
NUMBER OF DISKS:
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:
HARD DISK INSTALLABLE:
MEMORY:
 
JUNE
PLATFORM
DIGITAL ILLUSIONS
JOYSTICK
3
1
NO
1Mb
 
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY
79%
71%
90%
82%
Quite an original platform puzzler, with plenty of long-term addiction.
OVERALL: 87%



Benefactor CD32 logo  CD32  Amiga Computing Gold Award

Benefactor Benefactor appeared on floppy quite a while back. Now it’s been ported over from the A1200 for all CD32 owners with a penchant for puzzley platformers.
Programmed by Digital Illusions, who are renowned for their Pinball Dreams/Fantasies/Illusions, the game was well received by the public and reviewers alike. It is a strange mixture between Flashback (arcadey adventure style) and Lemmings (miniature graphics and puzzle action) and one which works well.

You play Bent Bright, the hero of the title, who is on a mission to rescue the Merry Men. It is your job to make your way across the platforms, avoiding obstacles, leaping across gaps and climbing up ledges. And as well as taxing your arcade skills, you get to exercise the old brain too with the problem solving element. You find the chaps, unlock them from their cells, find a safe route for them and return them back to the teleporter. These elements work exceptionally well and makes Benefactor highly addictive.

Although this version is a direct port-over from the A1200, it is still a recommended purchase for CD32 gamers. Graphics are imaginative and varied, the main character is well animated and, with his small size, is perfectly suited to the gameplay. Sound effects add to the action too.
An original title that will keep you entertained for ages.
Tina Hackett

Amiga Computing, Issue 85, April 1995, p.126

Publisher: Psygnosis
Developer: Digital Illusions
Disks: 1 CD
Price: £19.99
Genre: Puzzler/Platformer
Hard disk install: N/A
Control: Joystick
Supports: CD32
Recommended: N/A