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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 Lenslok protection
- Games with manual lookup copy protection
- Genre: Simulation - Space trading and combat
- Merchant / Trade-oriented games
|One in a million!||Amstrad CPC||Paul Wildman (3)|
|Welcome, Commander Jameson.||Amstrad CPC||pophase (8)|
|Explore the galaxy on one 5 1/4 Floppy.||DOS||woods01 (163)|
|probably the most immersive non-roleplaying game of it's time||DOS||Zzap (62)|
|Popular Computing Weekly||BBC Micro||Oct 11, 1984||100|
|Crash!||ZX Spectrum||Nov, 1985||92 out of 100||92|
|Personal Computer Games||BBC Micro||Nov, 1984||9 out of 10||90|
|Your Sinclair||ZX Spectrum||Dec, 1988||9 out of 10||90|
|Just Games Retro||NES||Jan 21, 2007||80|
|The Games Machine (UK)||MSX||Nov, 1988||80 out of 100||80|
|ST Action||Atari ST||Nov, 1988||78 out of 100||78|
|Play Time||NES||Dec, 1992||69 out of 100||69|
|Computer Gaming World (CGW)||DOS||Nov, 1992||40|
|Computer Gaming World (CGW)||Apple II||Nov, 1992||40|
|Topic||# Posts||Last Post|
|Label vs Owner||11||vedder (50490)
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.
FreewareMany of Elite's original releases are now available on Ian Bell's (one of the game's developers) homepage. These include hard to find MSX, NES and BBC Micro versions, to name a few.
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.
Game Art BeyondIn 2018, Elite was selected as one of the biggest classics on the Commodore 64 by the creators of the C64 graphics collection Game Art Beyond. Elite was honoured with a high resolution title picture (based on Atari ST title screen artwork) in a special C64 graphics format called NUFLI, along with a new, much extended C64 interpretation of the C64 Elite theme and docking computer music.
- 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
- AtariMania (Firebird, UK, Atari ST) (For Atari ST: game entry database; downloadable release; game packaging; advertisement; manuals; magazine reviews; additional material.)
- AtariMania (Rainbird, USA, Atari ST) (For Atari ST: game entry database; downloadable release; game packaging; advertisement; manuals; magazine reviews; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Acornsoft, BBC Micro) (For BBC Micro: exhibit reference ID CH21339; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Firebird, Amstrad CPC) (For Amstrad CPC464: exhibit reference ID CH20287; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Firebird, Amstrad CPC) (For Amstrad CPC464: exhibit reference ID CH37822; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Firebird, Atari ST) (For Atari ST: exhibit reference ID CH12609; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Firebird, C64) (For Commodore 64: exhibit reference ID CH36165; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Firebird, C64) (For Commodore 64: exhibit reference ID CH11520; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Firebird, PC) (For MS DOS: exhibit reference ID CH36166; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Firebird, ZX Spectrum) (For ZX Spectrum 48/128: exhibit reference ID CH38035; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Firebird, ZX Spectrum) (For ZX Spectrum 48k (Gold Edition): exhibit reference ID CH18553; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Hybrid, Acorn) (For Acorn Archimedes (Gold Edition): exhibit reference ID CH31256; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Imagineer, NES) (For Nintendo NES: exhibit reference ID CH34156; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Rainbird, Amiga) (For Commodore Amiga: exhibit reference ID CH10920; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Rainbird, Atari ST) (For Atari ST: exhibit reference ID CH32603; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Revelation Software, Sam Coupe) (For Sam Coupe: exhibit reference ID CH38034; additional material.)
- Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Superior Software, BBC Micro, Master) (For BBC Micro, BBC Master: exhibit reference ID CH29842; additional material.)
- Commodore 64 Boxed Sets (For C64: game packaging digitalisations. Include box, manual, brochure, additional material.)
- CPC-Power (in French) (For Amstrad CPC: game database entry; game packaging; manual digitalizations; goodies; advertisement; magazine reviews; downloadable releases; additional material.)
- CPCRrulez (in French) (For Amstrad CPC: game database entry; advertisement; game packaging; downloadable releases; additional material.)
- DOSBox, an x86 emulator with DOS (Statistics page of compatibility with original DOS version.)
- DOSBox Wiki (The encyclopaedic page of the DOSBox project.)
- 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.)
- Hall of Light (For Amiga: game database entry; digitalised manuals; game packaging; screenshots; additional material.)
- Hall of Light (Elite Advanced) (For Amiga: game database entry; digitalised manuals; game packaging; screenshots; additional material.)
- IMDb, the Internet Movie Database (Game database entry: reviews, trailers, ratings.)
- Kio's home (For ZX Spectrum: additional material including – photographed cassette inlay; snapshots; downloadable releases.)
- Lemon 64 (For C64: game entry database; advertisement; magazine reviews; music; documentation; cover art; additional material.)
- Lemon Amiga (For Amiga: game database entry; magazine reviews; music; manual; additional material.)
- MSX Generation (For MSX: game database entry; game packaging; manuals; additional material.)
- 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 Tipshop (For ZX Spectrum/SAM: a central archive for all Spectrum and SAM games hints, tips, cheats, maps, hacks and pokes. )
- 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.)
- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Encyclopaedic entry for combined platforms.)
- World of Spectrum (For ZX Spectrum: downloadable releases; additional material including – cassette inlay, advertisement, instructions; remakes links; player reviews; magazine references; magazine adverts.)
- ZX Spectrum Reviews (For ZX Spectrum: magazine game reviews in HTML.)