Aug 06 2009


zorro @ 6:29 pm

Elite - CoverOne of the most highly acclaimed 8-bit games ever made. David Braben & Ian Bell’s first outing on the C64 is a conversion of their 1984 BBC Micro masterpiece Elite. Commodore 64 users though are treated to the best version of Elite ever to appear on an 8-bit computer. The C64’s extra memory is utilised and makes the game better than ever.

In Elite the player starts with a basic Cobra MkIII space craft, with 100 credits. The player then has to survive in a hostile galaxy containing traders, pirates, police, bounty hunters, and an alien race, the Thargoids. The player can take jobs to earn cash, the most legal of which involve ferrying commodities from planets that have them, to planets that don’t.  Much like Han Solo in the Millenium Falcon there are risks and the importance of cargo for the return journey should not be forgotten. The player may even prefer to be a pirate themselves, or perhaps do a little dabbling.

Elite - Commodore 64 versionIt uses vector graphics throughout and they work really well.  Later conversions used filled polygons but made very little change to the game structure.  The Commodore 64 version had a couple of extra features over the BBC one.  Hidden ‘extra’ missions were present and a new race of parasitical freeloaders – the Trumbles!

The game constantly evolves so becomes very engrossing and addictive. It’s a super piece of programming when you consider how much depth there is to the game. A game that should be in everyone’s collection.

David Braben developed ‘sequels’ to Elite in the Frontier series of games.  Ian Bell was still involved in the industry.

Elite - Amiga version

Trivia Alert: Interestingly enough there was an acrimonious fallout between the two programmers, that resulted in them going their separate ways. However they each own 50% of the code for Elite and legal wrangling were still going on decades later (1999).

There’s an Elite Purity Test on the net somewhere, if you want to see how 3l1+3 you are :)

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