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Elite (NES)

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Description

Elite is a free-form space trading and combat simulation, commonly considered the progenitor of this sub-genre. The player initially controls a character referred to as "Commander Jameson", starting at Lave Station with 100 credits and a lightly armed trading ship called Cobra Mark III. Most of the game consists of traveling to various star systems, trading with their inhabitants, gaining money and reputation. Money can also be gained by other means beside trading; these include undertaking military missions, bounty hunting, asteroid mining, and even piracy. As the player character earns money, he becomes able to upgrade his ships with enhancements such as better weapons, shields, increased cargo capacity, an automated docking system, etc.

The game utilizes pseudo-3D wire-frame graphics; its world is viewed from a first-person perspective. It has no overarching story, though a race known as Thargoids play the role of antagonists: their ships will often attack the player-controlled ship, forcing the player to engage in space combat. Combat is action-oriented, taking place in the same environment as the exploration. The player must use various weapons the ship is equipped with, as well as manoeuvre the ship, trying to dodge enemy attacks. The player can also choose to attack neutral ships; doing so will decrease the protagonist's reputation, eventually attracting the attention of the galactic police.

Elite is notable for its expansive game world, consisting of eight galaxies and 256 planets. The player is free to travel to any of these planets, provided his ship has enough fuel for the trip (the ship's fuel capacity is limited for a journey to the distance of seven light years).

Screenshots

Elite NES Elite title screen.
Elite NES Local starmap.
Elite NES Game Over.
Elite NES Elite intro screen, displaying the Cobra Mk III.

Alternate Titles

  • "Classic Elite" -- BBC Micro B Disk informal title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

There are no reviews for the NES release of this game. You can use the links below to write your own review or read reviews for the other platforms of this game.


The Press Says

Total! (Germany) Feb, 1996 1 out of 6 100
Total!! UK Magazine Nov, 1992 96 out of 100 96
Nintendo Magazine System UK Oct, 1992 91 out of 100 91
N-Force Jan, 1993 89 out of 100 89
Megablast 1992 83 out of 100 83
Just Games Retro Jan 21, 2007 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
Retroage Oct 19, 2013 5 out of 10 50

Forums

Topic # Posts Last Post
Label vs Owner 11 vedder (20203)
Apr 02, 2013

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Elite appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Book

The book Game On! From Pong to Oblivion: The 50 Greatest Video games of All Time contains a chapter on Elite.

Controversy

Elite's two creators, Ian Bell and David Braben, were not on the best of terms for a long time, ever since development on Elite 2 was cancelled. This erupted into open confrontation during 1999-2000 when Bell decided to release all versions of Elite as freeware. The dispute was settled and all files relevant to Elite and Braben's version of the matter can be found in Ian Bell's website.

Copy protection

The ZX Spectrum version used Lenslok as copy protection. Lenslok was a physical device with a lense unique to the game which had to be used to decipher a code (more information here). The first few hundred copies of the game were delivered with a faulty Lenslok device, rendering the game unusable.

DOS version

Two versions were supplied with the DOS release, Shaded and Line Drawn. At the selection screen this message is displayed regarding the shaded version: "...but unless your machine is powerful (6MHz 80286 or greater) it will not run very quickly and you should select the line drawn version."

Extras

The package came with a novella about how your father sacrificed himself and saved you by dumping you in the lone escape pod in the ship, and how you managed to "acquire" this ship that you are driving at the beginning of the game.

Fan club

This was apparently the first game, or among the first games, to have a fan club.

Game On exhibition

Elite is being exhibited as part of the "Game On" exhibition in places like the London Science Museum. David Braben also gave a lecture as part of the exhibition in 2006.

Musical

Ian Bell's brother, Aidan Bell, enjoyed a spell of success writing for musical theatre; sooner or later his muse led him to his brother's enormous success story, which (believe it or not) resulted in 1989's completion of Elite: the Musical, furthering the storyline set forth in Robert Holdstock's novella The Dark Wheel. The book and lyrics, with mp3 recordings, (c) Pink Hippo Productions Ltd, can be perused.

Whether or not this musical has ever been produced on the off-Broadway stage is unclear, though one figures the chances are slim to nil.

Records

Elite (as of 2009) holds fours Guinness World Records. These are for the most format releases for a space trading game, being released on 25 different formats, the first space trading game, the first game to use Lenslok copy protection (the ZX Spectrum version) and the first space game to use procedural generation.

References

  • The docking sequence is borrowed from the movie 2001 - A Space Odyssey. Also, the music ("On the beautiful Blue Danube") used in this sequence is the same as in the movie. The only difference is, that the space station looks different, but the one who played the sequel to Elite, namely Frontier: Elite II, knows that this got corrected...
  • The second worst pilot rating, "Mostly Harmless", is an obvious reference to Douglas Adams's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" book series. In the books, "Mostly harmless." is the entire contents of the Hitchhiker's Guide article about Earth. One of the books is also called "Mostly Harmless", though it was published after Elite hit the shelves.

Ships

Most of the ships, which can be cycled through in start-up with F9/F10, in the game are named after snakes. There's a few exceptions such as the Moray and Gecko.

Awards

  • Amiga Power
    • May 1991 (issue #00) - #75 in the "All Time Top 100 Amiga Games"
  • Computer Gamer
    • 1985 - Game of the Year
    • February 1986 (issue #17) - Included in the list Spectrum Collection (the best Spectrum ZX games since 1985 by editorial staff choice)
  • Crash
    • 1985 - Best Game Overall
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 03/2013 – One of the "Ten Best C64 Games“
  • Golden Joystick Awards
    • 1984 - Best Original Game
  • Happy Computer
    • Issue 02/1986 - #2 Best Game in 1985 (Readers' Vote)
    • Issue 04/1987 - #12 Best Game in 1986 (Readers' Vote)
  • IGN
    • 2000 - #12 Top PC Games of All Time
  • Next Generation
    • 2008 - #1 Best Game of the 1980s
  • Retro Gamer
    • October 2004 (Issue #9) – Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
  • Telespiele (trade show)
    • 2007 - One of the 16 Most Influential Games in History
  • Times Online
    • 2007 - #3 Most Influential Video Game Ever
Information also contributed by Kasey Chang, Pseudo_Intellectual, SDfish, sgtcook, SharkD, Silverblade, woods01 and FatherJack

Related Web Sites

  • Elite Official FAQ (Elite Frequently Asked Questions (Answers from David Braben))
  • Elite: The Dark Wheel (The accompanying novella to Elite by Robert Holdstock, The Dark Wheel, is found here.)
  • Frontier Astro (Fanpage with version descriptions and collector information for any Elite version ever released.)
  • The Elite Home Page (Site maintained but one of the co-authors, Ian Bell. Among the wealth of info on the site is the chance to legally download the game for every platform it was released. )
  • The Making Of: Elite (an article about the history of the game, on Edge Online (22nd May 2009))
totalgridlock (83) added Elite (NES) on Feb 03, 2004
Other platforms contributed by Jo ST (15017), Makitk (27), Kabushi (126079), Martin Smith (63132), Terok Nor (19018), cafeine (143) and Will D (789)