Elite on MSX Gold Edition disc version box

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By TomH

Master (191)

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22-01-2018, 16:34

I couldn't claim to be completely certain but I think Firebird simply declared Elite to be a 'Gold Edition' after it had crossed a certain sales threshold on that publisher's original set of platforms. Probably the Spectrum and C64; Acornsoft had published the original Electron/BBC version. Later releases then just started life as the Gold Edition.

I'm pretty sure my version for the Sam Coupe was a Gold Edition, and I'm absolutely certain nobody ever wrote two versions of Elite for the Sam Coupe. Though if you ever feel badly done by with lazy Spectrum conversions, check it out sometime: the Sam Coupe has four screen modes. One has the same layout and address as the Spectrum, and conspicuously slows the whole machine down to approximately Spectrum speed. Naturally the Sam Coupe version of Elite runs in that mode, because who needs extra processing time for 3d graphics? Worse than that, the Spectrum original uses a software back buffer with a pretty obvious copy-to-the-screen phase as 4kb is copied from one place to another as quickly as possible. The Sam Coupe has at least five times as much memory as a 48kb Spectrum and supports hardware page flipping. So guess what the Elite port does: a pretty obvious software copy-to-the-screen.

Based on that, I'm confident they didn't even have access to the original source and just did the bare minimum to hack in use of the Sam's DOS for loading and saving. Otherwise, switching the the Sam mode that is essentially like MSX screen 2 but completely linear and lets the machine run at full speed, and using the hardware page flipping would probably have been a one-afternoon effort doubling of execution speed.

This concludes the venting of something that annoyed me twenty years ago.

By rderooy

Champion (306)

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22-01-2018, 16:58

Well that is what both the MSX and Amstrad CPC suffered from in Europe. "Lazy" Spectrum ports. My understanding is that programmers were given no more then a few days to do the ports and as such made as few changes as possible. Lots of MSX games that originated on the spectrum for instance still use the default spectrum keyboard mapping for the cursor keys instead of the actual cursor keys of the MSX. Some even still have "Kempston" as an option on the main menu, not even bothering to change it to "Joystick".

By TomH

Master (191)

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22-01-2018, 17:11

Agreed, and what's more annoying is the inconsistency.

Ritman/Drummond's Batman is pretty terribly done: it's just exceedingly slow. But they seem really to have upped their game for Head Over Heels, which plays just as well as anywhere else (and therefore: really well). Ocean's Robocop is also pretty good, I think, complete with reasonably fast pixel scrolling.

Conversely, whoever it was that wrote Wec Le Mans and later Chase HQ seems to have regressed. Wec Le Mans at least acknowledges the platform shift slightly by not constraining its ground/sky palette switch to an 8-pixel boundary, but Chase HQ undoes that, acting as though it's under the Spectrum's attribute constraints. Also, both are slower than elsewhere, and Chase HQ even lacks AY music, just like the 48kb Spectrum. I appreciate that the 128kb version wouldn't have fitted because 64kb was the dominant European memory size of an MSX, but with an extra 16kb, they couldn't have spent five minutes to add the music back in? The music that they already have composed for exactly a 1.79Mhz AY?

At least on the CPC you know that lazy Spectrum ports are pretty much always going to be terrible. On the MSX hope always just barely lingers.

(EDIT: also annoying is that Chase HQ has an excellent CPC conversion, being nothing like a lazy Spectrum port; it also has a pretty great Robocop, but I think that came out pretty well for its MSX 1 target)

By hamlet

Scribe (1608)

hamlet's picture

22-01-2018, 22:10

Back to topic, Elite is a great port. I used to play the C64 version, which had some extras (real-time docking-computer that plays THE WALTZ, appearing tribbles (never happen in the MSX version to me) but the MSX port was more fluently to play. I did became Elite after countless hours, with a fully loaded Viper of course.
As I mentioned, my Elite box says "Spectrum", which is poorly over sticked with a MSX label. So I also don´t belive there was any non-Gold edition for MSX.

By TomH

Master (191)

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22-01-2018, 22:26

I'm pretty sure the Trumbles are a C64 exclusive. I've never seen them anywhere else.

By CASDuino

Resident (45)

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22-01-2018, 22:40

TomH wrote:

I'm pretty sure the Trumbles are a C64 exclusive. I've never seen them anywhere else.

they are.
If you look at the Elite home page it does explain which missions where on which version.

By diederick76

Expert (97)

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24-01-2018, 08:31

Quote:

with a fully loaded Viper of course.

Ah yes, the Viper. I remember how well it flew Wink

By FiXato

Scribe (1433)

FiXato's picture

24-01-2018, 17:03

If you want to learn more about the development of Elite, visit the GDC Vault to watch and listen to David Braben giving a post-mortem talk about Elite.

By Lazzeri

Master (216)

Lazzeri's picture

28-01-2018, 22:16

TomH wrote:

I'm pretty sure my version for the Sam Coupe was a Gold Edition, and I'm absolutely certain nobody ever wrote two versions of Elite for the Sam Coupe. Though if you ever feel badly done by with lazy Spectrum conversions, check it out sometime: the Sam Coupe has four screen modes. One has the same layout and address as the Spectrum, and conspicuously slows the whole machine down to approximately Spectrum speed. Naturally the Sam Coupe version of Elite runs in that mode, because who needs extra processing time for 3d graphics? Worse than that, the Spectrum original uses a software back buffer with a pretty obvious copy-to-the-screen phase as 4kb is copied from one place to another as quickly as possible. The Sam Coupe has at least five times as much memory as a 48kb Spectrum and supports hardware page flipping. So guess what the Elite port does: a pretty obvious software copy-to-the-screen.

i do collect “Elite” versions for quite some time now and I’ve NEVER heard of a SAM version until now. Amazing! Thank you for sharing!

Do you have pictures of it? I’d love to see them. Smile

By FiXato

Scribe (1433)

FiXato's picture

29-01-2018, 04:02

Lazzeri wrote:

i do collect “Elite” versions for quite some time now and I’ve NEVER heard of a SAM version until now. Amazing! Thank you for sharing!

Do you have pictures of it? I’d love to see them. Smile

Computing History has a couple of screenshots and photographs

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