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Elite

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Released: 1984

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: BBC Micro

Publisher: Acornsoft

Developer: David Braben / Ian Bell

Submitted by: Damian Butt

This is it – the daddy. The greatest BBC game, perhaps even the greatest game of all time. Mindless fanboy hyperbole? Maybe, but you’ve got to admit that Elite helped to shape the face of videogaming as we know it, not to mention inspiring a generation – me included.

Since we only have one BBC format on this website, take it as red that I’m including the enhanced BBC disc version in this tribute, which added missions and – be still my beating heart – a brief glimpse inside the Coriolis space station when you docked.

Elite was a tale of rags to riches, with you riding in the pilot’s seat as Captain Jameson, a rookie trader/combateer with only a Cobra Mk III spaceship and 100 credits to your name. You could choose to be an honest trader; endlessly ferrying gemstones, food or computers between neighbouring words. Or you could dump the humdrum life and hit the spacelanes as a ruthless bounty hunter; ridding space of the scum of the universe and earning a decent wedge while doing it. Or if you were really sad (did anyone do this?) you could mine asteroids for precious ore.

Elite featured many clever ideas, including the user-friendly scanner, which showed in an instant where attacking ships were located in relation to you, fuel scoops that allowed you to fill ‘er up without docking with a spacestation, a large array of cool weapons, the Blue Danube while the docking computer worked its magic, and of course not forgetting the combat rating – from harmless to Dangerous, Deadly and finally Elite.

Everything about Elite was well judged, meticulously designed and downright clever. It was playable, rewarded dedicated players, delivered moments of pure joy and tension in equal measures, and even playing it today it is as fun as any modern equivalent.

Will we ever seen a modern day remake? I’m keeping my fingers crossed and I have a whole book of ideas ready for when Braben and Bell give me a call…