DescriptionElite 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).
- "Elite Plus" -- Amiga "Action Sixteen" budget re-release title
- "Classic Elite" -- BBC Micro B Disk informal title
Part of the Following Groups
- Elite series
- Gameplay feature: Slavery
- Games with classical music
- Games with included books (fiction)
- Games with manual lookup copy protection
- Genre: Simulation - Space trading and combat
- Merchant / Trade-oriented games
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Apr 02, 2013
1001 Video GamesElite appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
BookThe book Game On! From Pong to Oblivion: The 50 Greatest Video games of All Time contains a chapter on Elite.
ControversyElite'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 protectionThe 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 versionTwo 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."
ExtrasThe 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 clubThis was apparently the first game, or among the first games, to have a fan club.
Game On exhibitionElite 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.
MusicalIan 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.
RecordsElite (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.
- 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.
ShipsMost 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.
ZX Spectrum 128K versionEnhanced version for ZX Spectrum 128K was released which introduced three new missions and fixed a number of bugs.
- Amiga Power
- May 1991 (issue #00) - #75 in the "All Time Top 100 Amiga Games"
- Commodore Format
- February 1991 (Issue 5) - listed in the A to Z of Classic Games article (Great)
- July 1993 (Issue 34) - Modern Classics: FRP & RPG
- March 1994 (Issue 42) Heaven – The Path to Righteousness: 20 Essential Games
- November 1994 (Issue 50) – #6 The All-Time Top 50 C64 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)
- 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)
- 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
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 (Game's co-author (Ian Bell) site dedicated to Elite. Among the wealth of info on the site — including a FAQ, links to musical and narrative works inspired by the game — there is the chance to download emulable versions of the game for every platform it was released, with Bell's comments and notes on every version. It is also possible to play a browser version of Elite: The New Kind, celebrative of the original game release 30th anniversary)
- The Making Of: Elite (an article about the history of the game, on Edge Online (22nd May 2009))
- The Unsolved Mysteries of Elite (Read-only Memories, 2015) (Article by Steve Hogarty about rumors about the Elite games (like the black hole or space dragons) and the responses of David Braben on those.)
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