Title Benefactor Game Type Platform Company Psygnosis Players 1 Compatibility All Submission firstname.lastname@example.org (Jan Ullrich Bister) Review Psygnosis, the same company that brought you Lemmings and many other great games, now brings you Benefactor, a fascinating combination of jump'n'run and strategy that resembles the game Lemmings quite a lot. But make no mistake, this is not a cheap imitation. On the contrary. The disks: The game comes on three NDOS disks which autoboot and kick right into the rather cool intro, which tells the background story of Benefactor with a "Star Wars"-style 3D scroller. Unfortunately, a harddisk installation is not possible (but disk accesses don't take place often), and the game saves its highscore list on the main disk, which, since the disks cannot be copied, will not find many friends. However, the disk can be write-protected - the program won't complain (it just won't save either). On my A500 with 2MB Chip RAM, the game runs perfectly, as long as I keep my GVP A530 turned off. With it turned on, the intro scroll slows down and flickers a lot; the game experiences trouble. It may run fine with other accelerators. The manual that comes with the game mentions data disks to be made available in the future by Psygnosis ("future" referring to 1994, when the game was released). Apparently, none of these data disks have ever surfaced. This is really unfortunate because Benefactor _will_ get you addicted, and it is possible that you finish all levels within a week or less because you can't put the joystick down. (It happened to me. :) The story and gameplay: You are Ben E. Factor and must help the Merrymen, whose awesome Rainbow Machine has been stolen by an evil tribe, which also kidnapped all of the guards that were protecting the machine. Now, everyone of them sits trapped in a cell, except a few Merrymen who managed to escape and enlist your help. They provide you with a transporter that takes you to a total of 61 levels - that is, 6 stages (with different themes, background GFX and music) with 10 levels each, and a special end level. In each level, there are one or more prison cells with Merrymen inside them, and one key somewhere for each cell. Your job is to find the keys and open the cells to free the Merrymen. This is where the fun starts. You see, they don't just walk straight to the transporter. You will almost always need their help - they fix broken machines for you that you need to use, flick switches for you that do all kinds of things (for example, activating additional pieces of platform that you need to get to another section of the level). Each Merryman will go to his place of purpose and, if he needs Ben to take him somewhere, wait patiently for him. Ben can pick up the Merryman and throw him up to a higher platform, or give him tools so the Merryman can fix a broken machine which, in turn, Ben can use to reach his goal of freeing other Merrymen. With each level, these exercises of teamwork get more and more complex and you will sometimes need to really think what to do first - or, as a matter of fact, what to do at all. ;) Sometimes you will encounter a black-and-white Merryman that has turned evil due to lack of Rainbow power, and you need to guide him through a small Rainbow Machine to turn him back into color, so he can help you. In his evil state, he will just blindly walk wherever fate takes him, and possibly destroy things in the way. Ben will have to hurry so these little creatures don't run into their death! And since we're comparing Benefactor with Lemmings: Benefactor actually contains one rather hilarious level that turns out to be a Lemmings spoof - lots and lots of black-and-white Merrymen come falling out of a trapdoor while a "Let's go!" sample plays, followed by the familiar Lemmings background tune! The gameplay is very responsive and well laid-out. Basic movements that Ben can perform are: running, jumping short distances, bridging longer distances by doing somersaults (kind of "Impossible Mission"-style, for anyone who remembers that Commodore 64 game), climbing onto a platform right above Ben, hanging off various things, rolling on the floor and lying down flat. Ben can also pick up keys and tools, carry and throw Merrymen, hand them things or take them back. This is done with a push of the fire button and a downward movement. Great! Sound and graphics: The graphics of the game, as well as the sound, are incredibly good. It is amazing how colorful and detailed the background, sprites and animations can look on an ECS Amiga, and speaking of sprites, they are TINY! In fact, I think the Merrymen are even smaller than the Lemmings, yet the animation detail is amazing and the Merrymen, Ben, and all the monsters that you will encounter look very much... alive. :) Each of the six stages of the game is based on a different theme. You will find yourself in underground caves, Egyptian tombs, the jungle, spooky Transylvanian castles, an ice world and a "techno" zone. Each of the stages is amazingly atmospheric and really involves you in the game. For example, I was playing one of the spooky-Transylvanian-castle levels one night with the lights off in my room, and suddenly there was lightning on the screen, revealing a dark castle somewhere far in the background, and a ghost emerged from the ground and started haunting me - rarely did a game scare me that much! The music is also excellent and adds even more to the atmosphere, with a great Carribbean reggae-style tune playing in the jungle levels, very cool and rather laid-back dance music in the techno zone, scaringly realistic-sounding church organs in the castle levels, and more. The sound effects are very entertaining, ranging from the happy giggling of a Merryman that is freed from prison to the deep rumble of a rock rolling downwards or the typical factory machine sound of an activated Rainbow Machine. The volume of each of the sounds even changes depending on how far Ben is away from the sound source! It is impressive to walk past a Rainbow Machine with its sound getting louder, then fading away while a buzzing sound emerges from nowhere as you approach a nest of hornets in the jungle... To summarize it, both the graphics and the sound are indeed so seamlessly perfect that you almost forget this is just a computer game. All in all: Everyone should have this game because it's a true gem, and it has something for everyone, from the action fan to the thinker and adventurer. Even for those who have a decent stereo hooked up to their Amiga and just want to listen to the music. :) If you don't have this game, get it now.