8-Bit Software Online Conversion

2 Articles Submitted By 4WL ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Elite. ****** The BBC's greatest game, much copied but never beaten. Elite went on to conquer on many other formats but it started out on the good old BBC B and Electron. Anyway out of interest I thought I'd write a little article comparing the versions. The BBC B tape version. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ No missions, not all spacecraft available but Thargoids and Witchspace still in. If you get screen corruption you have the early tape version which needs updating. Electron version (tape only). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As above except black and white display, slower (obviously), no stars. BBC B disk version. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ All the normal ships, missions but loads from disk at every docking. So extra wear and tear on disk drive. It is however the full version as it was meant to be. BBC tube version. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ All the ships plus a few rare extra ones, more colour, faster, better sound. Intro sequence. BBC Master 128. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Same as tube version except not as fast and no intro. There are other subtle differences but nothing major. BBC Master Compact. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Comes on a 3.5 ADFS disk, modified to work well with a Compacts digital joystick. Subtle differences. Acorn Archimedes. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Needs 1meg. Solid polygon graphics. Different missions. New craft as well as most of old. Asteroid fields. Different formations. Wings of craft. Technically excellent and playable but with a few gameplay glitches. Atari ST. ~~~~~~~~~ Written by Mr Micro. Small view screen. 5 missions. All the normal BBC ships plus one or two extra of Mr Micro design. Retro rockets, ID computer. Solid polygon graphics. Docking and launching sequence. Amiga. ~~~~~~ Same as ST plus better sound but a little slower. Last update version 2 had reference computer built into game. MSX. ~~~~ Same as ST/Amiga except vector only graphics in larger view screen. Much slower. Required 64k MSX micro. Tape and disk versions the same. Spectrum 48. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Not all the craft were available. 3 missions. Space stations didn't launch vipers if attacked. Futuristic font used for text. tape or opus discovery disk. Used lenslok protection. Spectrum 48/128. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Version compatible with both 48 and 128. Vipers launched if station attacked. Futuristic font not used. Rest as 48 version. No lenslok. Spectrum Plus 3. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Presumably same as 48/128 version but with disk loading/saving. Amstrad CPC. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cassette and disk versions the same except for saving commanders. Same range of ships as spectrum. Slower but with more colour, better sound and music. Rest same as spectrum. IBM XT version. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ By realtime. Super fast version. Option for filled or simple vectors. Too easy. Takes little time to get to Elite rating. Requires 256k memory and CGA graphics. All the ships. three missions. IBM AT version. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ By realtime. Requires EGA/VGA graphics and 640k memory. Same as above plus better graphics and sound. Nintendo NES. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ By Anco. 1megabit cartridge (128k). Fastish graphics. Battery backed up saves. All the ships. Missions unknown (but one of the last versions so should be good). Polished version. Limited instructions. Einstein. ~~~~~~~~~ As spectrum 48/128 with disk loading/saving. Atari XL/XE. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Never released. Believed half written and then cancelled. C64. ~~~~ Same as BBC disk version on tape or disk. Very slow. music and improved sound effects. Poor sprite explosions instead of debris. Super Nintendo. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I believe it has been written by Hybrid but has never been released. Megadrive. ~~~~~~~~~~ Sony have the rights. Its believed the project has been started but is on hold. Apple 2. ~~~~~~~~ Was there an Apple 2 version? Someone once told me there was but I've never heard any more about it. Not a bad result really for a game that started on the BBC. ************************************************************************** ************************************************************************** Article 2 ~~~~~~~~~ FRONTIER. FIRST ENCOUNTERS. *************************** Elite has now progressed from simple line vectors, to filled polygons to texture mapping and landscaping. I've had a go on the demo that was on PC Power and like what I see. Unfortunately this demo, and I believe the full version which is now on sale, is full of bugs and keeps crashing. However I'm sure a less bugged usable version will come along soon and it certainly looks like it's worth waiting for. My PC is a DX2-50 although I have it running at DX2-66 speed. I would say a DX2-66 is a fastish PC especially with Vesa graphics but the new Frontier really needs a DX4-100 or Pentium. However detail can be reduced and it can be made to work with fast 386's. First Encounters is meant to be Frontier with playability. The original Frontier was more impressive than playable. The problem seemed to be because it was so open-ended and had taken so long it was difficult to polish up totally satisfactorily. First Encounters is meant to be more playable with better dogfighting and better goals. Online newspapers create more interest and the increase in graphics detail creates more atmosphere. Some magazines have cruelly described First Encounters as dated mainly because the graphics are not state of the art compared to some other PC releases. I feel this criticism is totally unjustified as Frontier is actually simulating space as we know it and not just pre-rendered graphics with simplistic 3D routines. I feel David Braben would have found it easier if he had developed the Frontier games on the Archimedes. First Encounters is plagued with compatibility problems. Some PCs can run it but many can't. There's been lots of soundcard problems and configuring the computer to run First Encounters is time consuming. We're still waiting for Frontier for the Archimedes and I don't actually know if its being developed but I hope so.