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Elite space trading game

Updated 4 July 2023

Elite is a game franchise with a solid following from the 8-bit gaming world. As we have been working through my archives we have realized how much great information there is on Elite. This is our journal of the game. There are links to the runtime versions of the game, period and modern reviews and of course the obligatory fiction pieces.

Game Franchise Elite screenshot of Cobra Mark 3

Welcome aboard this Cobra Mk III trading and combat craft. The ship has been supplied to you by Faulcon deLacy Spaceways, by arrangement with the Galactic Co-operative of Worlds whose Space and Interstellar Pilot's Exams you have just successfully completed. The small flight manual supplied with the craft is designed to familiarize you with all aspects of space flight, combat and trading, and we hope that it will be of use to you.

Introducing the Elite franchise

The Game Franchise Elite has a solid following in the 8-bit gaming world. The original Elite game released in 1984 on the on the BBC Micro was probably the first game to be a space opera in a sandbox. The game seamlessly blends trading, space combat and deep space exploration. As we have been working through my archives we have realized how much great information there is on Elite. Royal Mail even released a video game stamp collection that featured the 1984 release of Elite. This is my journal of the game.

The popularity and critical reception of a game can be influenced by many factors such as graphics, gameplay, story, innovation, and cultural impact. Elite was considered a groundbreaking game in the space trading and combat simulation genre, with its open-world design, procedurally generated galaxies, and 3D graphics. It offered players the freedom to explore and make choices, making the game highly replayable.

The scope of the space trading game Elite and its subsequent versions is an amazing feat for the hardware available. The Beeb (BBC microcomputer) version of Elite fit into 22 kilobytes of memory. In order to achieve this increadable feat of software engineering, the developers used Fibonnacci sequences to calculate the scope of the universe.

Known ports for the game include:
IBM MS-DOS, Acorn 32-bit, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, MSX, NES, Tatung Einstein, ZX Spectrum

Catalog of Elite Spaceships

Catalog of Elite Spaceships
image:  Catalog of Elite Spaceships

In the game Elite, a renowned space trading and combat simulation, players have the opportunity to pilot various types of space ships as they navigate through a vast and dynamic universe. These ships come in different sizes, classes, and with unique capabilities, allowing players to tailor their gameplay experience to their preferred playstyle. Here are some of the notable types of space ships you can encounter in Elite:

These are just a few examples of the diverse range of space ships available in Elite. Each ship has its strengths, weaknesses, and specialized roles, allowing players to carve their path in the galaxy as traders, pirates, explorers, or mercenaries. The choice of ship in Elite is crucial as it determines your capabilities and playstyle in the vast and immersive world of space exploration and commerce.

Elite Inspired Fiction

Elite game franchise imprint

Starbound Odyssey
Elite fiction

Elite release schedule

If you want a pic of any of the others.. just let me know! 😎 pic.twitter.com/jgwSqUAOaI

— The Loud Scots Bloke (@loudscotsbloke) March 25, 2020

Magazine Reviews of the Elite franchise

Link to Wikipedia article on Elite

Wikipedia Article

The usual quality write up on the video game and its history and controversies. In typical Wikipedia style the article lacks the emotions that come with playing this genre defining game.

Computer Gamer reviews Elite game

Computer Gamer issue 11—Game of the Year

Firebird's Elite walked away with Computer Gamer's Game of the Years. It fought off strong challenges from Melbourne House's Way of the Exploding Fist and Winter Gold's Winter Games. Elite's success and recognition may have been due to its innovative features, addictive gameplay, and positive reviews from players and critics.

ACAR review of Elite game

Australian Commodore and Amiga Review Amiga Version

At last Elite has arrived for the Amiga, and unlike Outrun has been worth the wait. With literally hundreds of planets and several galaxies to choose from Elite offers the player tremendous scope and variety. The game which became a classic on the C64 will once again become a classic on the Amiga.

808 Gamer review of Elite

880 Gamer Issue 7 Elite Special

The trusty 880 Gamer editor takes a look back at the game that started it all and then sequels released on the Amiga. By the release of the Amiga, the original drawbacksd were starting to weigh on the game. Elite Frontiers worked to fix this issue. Don't forget to look for the cheat codes in the back of the magazine.

Microcomputer Run-time Versions

If you don't believe us, you can find out just how good the Game Franchise Elite is. Elite is one of the most original space trading games available. And to think that all of this trading gameplay was built on the humble 8-bit microcomputers such as the Apple II and Commodore C64. We have put together some links to the web-versions of the game. Play the different Elite franchise ports on each 8-bit platform.

As someone who has played Elite on various microcomputer run-time versions, I find the browser version to be the most enjoyable. The smooth graphics and sound make for an immersive experience. It's great that I don't need to worry about hardware issues like monitor compatibility or disk drive failures. The browser version is much more accessible and convenient for me to play, especially with the easy-to-use keymapping. I also appreciate that the browser version has retained the original C64 music, which adds to the nostalgic atmosphere of the game. Overall, the browser version of Elite allows me to experience the classic game in a way that is both faithful to the original and convenient for modern gameplay.

Variations between releases

Gamers often realize how groundbreaking Elite was. Elite pushed the boundaries of what can is possible in an open game. Porting Elite to different 8-bit machines did lead to compromise. Gamers became confused about these variations. There were noticeable variations between the disk and cassette versions as well.

Elite was first released on the BBC as a diskette version. The desk version kept gaming data on the disk to remember the state of the game. The developers had to remove expansions such as Galactic Hyperspace and detailed planetary data. It was not possible to save the state of the game onto a cassette. Cassettes read and write data sequentially. Data can read and write randomly on a diskette. It would be embarrassing to have the player save the game to tape and overwrite the game code.

These compromises increase across platforms. Elite on the Acorn Electron was even more limited. Even more was removed from the game code to improve speed. The Electron version of Elite has a reputation for being slow. An estimated seven galaxies were removed.

Other tricks that to trim the microcomputer requirements down were employed. Mining lasers were removed so that you cannot mine asteroids. Military lasers with even more firepower were removed. Those special details like rotation planets, suns (no free fuel), and various enemy ship classes are other items that vary between editions. These detail change the game mechanics and game play. Hard core elite collectors will want to play each version.

In the Archive

Elite game archives


We don't know what happened to these archives but it has been lost over time. our link is to the Wayback Machine. The guy who developed this site sure was passionate about the game.

Here is a launch advert for the website. There is good commentary here about what the author was trying to achieve.

It looks as if the original website is now defunct. New updates are now being given through the Elite Archives twitter account.

Elite training manual cover

Elite Space Traders Flight Training Manual

Fly your Cobra craft wisely and carefully. Other pilots may be attempting to increase their own combat rating by attacking either innocent traders, or police Vipers. If you resort to such tactics then your combat rating may rise but your legal status may make you Public Enemy Number One with the Federation Crime Monitoring Authority and you will not be left alone.

Elite Plus game manual cover

Elite Plus Manual IBM [1990]

This a scan of the manual that came with the PC version of the game. In addition to the instructions there is also a short fiction story to get you in the mood. Now to get stuck into reading the story.

Elite game archives book cover

The Elite Archives Book: A 30 Year History of Elite

The Elite Archives book takes a look back over the past 30 years since the computer game Elite was first released. This Kickstarter project closed in 2014.

Elite Imprint cover

Elite Imprint [1990]

An entertaining short story of a starry eyed Spacer that gets into all sorts of trouble to earn some credits. Romance and a space battle of Elite proportions are the ingredients to this tale of swashbuckling adventure.

Image Gallery

Elite trading game screenshot for MSDOS Elite Plus released 1991 enhanced edition

Hacking the Elite Game

Elite ACS shipbuilder app

The ACS Elite Shipbuilder, published by ACS

Spectrum users can receive a character boost in the original Elite game. This program lets you create new characters, so you can jump start your trading career. Or if you have already started and you need a little help here or there, the program can fine-tune your character. Maybe you are getting impatient and you want a military laser canon or a couple of missiles to rid yourself of those pesky raiders.

Elite Spectrum Character Builder screenshot

Elite Character Designer [1987]

This is a small utility for the ZX Spectrum. Users can define thier own characters or reset their mangled character back to the default. in reality, this utility should have been ported to all of the microcomputer platforms.

Article tags: Computers Commodore Amiga Computer Magazines

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