Elite / Frontier ZX Spectrum 128k Elite "3" - 1993

Although I started out with Electron Elite in late 1984, the bulk of my time in the original game was spent on the ZX Spectrum, courtesy of a fantastic twin cassette game compilation (Elite was double-sided with Starglider 2, and the other tape contained Tertris, The Sentinel, and ACE 2. Four out of five ain't bad :) ). After watching Drew Wagar's weekend stream I decided to revisit ye olden days of my youth and get an emulated version set up.

Now, a few years back on these forums, I heard about a hacked/modded version of Elite for the Speccy 128k that was released in Russia in 1993 - I have a vague memory of a description of its features, but unfortunately my Google-fu has proved weak so the only way to find out what it's all about is to give it a damn good playing at.

First trip (to Leesti, of course) saw me greeted by a Thargoid which almost destroyed me before it was distracted by an NPC which engaged it. I managed to get on its tail and get lots of fire onto the target but I think my starter Pulse Lasers were just tickling it. After dispatching my heroic rescuer (cheers, guy!) the Thargoid must've thought I wasn't the effort and entered Witchspace in front of me.

Not seen that before, thought I. Good start to the game!

At the Station I caught some footage of an NPC jumping away:
Source: https://youtu.be/YusQTLOKqVM


Looking at the system descriptions, it looks like all the exotic alien species have been replaced with either "Humanoids" or "Human Colonials", and the flavour text has gone. No more zero-G cricket and Evil Juice, unfortunately (I wonder if the coder, Vladimir Kladov, did this to bring the old game into line with Frontier: Elite 2 which released in '93?).

I've also been attacked by what appears to me to be a new ship - it launched 2 missiles during our fracas so perhaps it could be an Eagle model? Either that or it's the ship from Asteroids (or possibly it's Flash Gordon) :)
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The (what I'm assuming to be) help screens at the start of the game are all in Cyrillic so I haven't a clue if there's any useful info there, but I'm looking forward to a few new things in a few old journeys.

Edit: just accidentally shot an Anaconda, thinking it was an easy 0.5 credits (asteroid) and it launched a Sidewinder and a Krait at me! I know the 'conda has always supposed to have carried smaller ships but I don't recall them actually doing it in the game.
 
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Edit: just accidentally shot an Anaconda, thinking it was an easy 0.5 credits (asteroid) and it launched a Sidewinder and a Krait at me! I know the 'conda has always supposed to have carried smaller ships but I don't recall them actually doing it in the game.
I recall something similar happening in the original C64 version, Anaconda launching a Worm class landing craft to assist it fighting me.
 
I recall something similar happening in the original C64 version, Anaconda launching a Worm class landing craft to assist it fighting me.
I remember seeing the Worm getting dropped off, as well as escape pods, but I can’t recall ever seeing the small ships launched from a big vessel. It’s been a few decades since I last played though, so it might just be the old grey matter :)

Speaking of escape pods, I’ve seen one launch and then enter Witchspace - a feature I wouldn’t mind introduced in ED’s explosion screen!
Source: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YFJ4yKE7qFk

...1:39 onwards, if the time stamp doesn’t work.
Yeah how things look so much better these days, I remember version 1. Then later around 1993 or 1994 I had it on an amiga 500 plus
I got my A500 around the same time, though I only had a brief go on Elite Plus - I was all about High Frontier (as FE2 was previewed as), ready for the single-digit framerate in all its glory :D
 
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You can find a page for this modification over at World of Spectrum, along with its documentation in the "HELP!" RTF document towards the end of the page.

Never played it, but the new features sounds pretty cool TBH - ships also fight each other & will scoop cargo!
Btw - The new ship you found is an Advanced Mamba B-Type, there's also a Gecko Mk2.

The Russian site EliteGames.ru has a little discussion here about the various versions of Elite on the spectrum:
I'm not sure if it's a continuation of the same modification that you have, but a user there named Dimushka was still updating his own variant as late as 2018:
(If you use Chrome, it'll automatically translate these pages)

HTH!
 
Unfortunately my adventures in Elite “3” 128k came to an end just over a fortnight ago after a bug rendered the scanner area as an unreadable rainbow mess, and daftlad me was only using one save :(

I decided to revert back to original flavour Spectrum Elite, and change the emulation platform from my laptop to this:
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...which turned out to be a cracking decision - the Nintendo DS can be flipped shut to suspend the game and opened up to continue playing, so I’ve been able to sneak a lot more Elite in than I had been able to previously. This means I’ve managed to get as far in the past two weeks than I did in about a year back in the 80’s. The lack of a five minute tape loading and shared telly has done wonders for my Elite rating :)
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Elite / Dangerous Eighties Stylee!!!
 
Well I’m now further in Elite than I’ve ever been before - back in The Day I’d never left the first Galaxy and lived a fairly lawful life, thus I’d never triggered any of the missions or experienced the exciting life of a bad ‘un.

Over the past two hours of game time, my Fugitive rating in Galaxy Map 1 has seen me hounded by Police Vipers and bounty hunter FDLs as well as the usual gamut of pirates, and systems declaring me persona non grata - docking permission denied (auto docking not functional and the Stations being invisible in some cases!). After one tussle with a trio of pirates saw my docking computers shot out, things got even more interesting...it meant I wouldn’t know if the Coriolis Station actually had its docking slot closed until my Cobra III smeared itself all over it.

During one approach I thought I was watching a few Pythons launching (as the Spectrum version likes to do), but nope! those were four Vipers doing a whole lot of shooting at me. Hey, I’m only an Offender, Guv!

Eventually after a whole lot of star-scooping & jumping I managed to get to a distant port that let me in, so after purchasing a Galactic Hyperspace and a bigger jump than normal, my legal rating was back at Clean.

I’ve just had the Supernova mission occur - something I’ve only known about for the last ten years or so but have never seen - and I think if I’d experienced this way-back-when it would’ve blown my early teenaged mind!

Epic adventures at 3 frames-per-second :D
 
What the actual caressing of the gentle kind is this?

Did I not buy the SpaceLegs expansion or something? 😅
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(I’d just had to fight my way through about a dozen ships to get to the Station. Got a mouth like a cat’s bum-hole now!)
Edit: I’ve now been boarded a further three times in different systems in Galaxy Map 3 - my Elite induced Tourettes is increasing and my lips have pursed so much as to have disappeared 😅 Is it a combo of Fugitive status and another unknown factor, or is the game just flicking wee at me?
 
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Something has gone seriously wrong with my game :(

The red screen of Game Over Pirates now hits me at every Station I dock at - I’ve tried over two dozen systems over two different Galaxies - also when approaching for a manual dock, the Stations aren’t even rotating! (Perhaps this is the point when they changed rotation direction - clockwise in Elite, widdershins in Frontier)

I’ve tried the escape capsule to no avail, the pirates must be stowing away on there with me as well.

This means I’ve reverted back to the last safe save which was the Supernova mission - which is a huge amount of kills ago. I think this must be the digital equivalent of my save tape getting chewed up :/
 
Thankfully I’ve not had any more visits from my Red Pirate chums, so I’ve been able to get some serious Eliteineering done this week - I’ve just had the Stealth Asp mission trigger and by ‘eck it’s a toughie!

What initially looks like a trio pirate attack turns out to be a Sidey, a Krait, and the Stealth Asp (it blinks in & out of view while blasting away at you). It’s taken half a dozen attempts before cracking the mission - if you can survive long enough the Asp runs out of energy for its stealth device, giving you a decent shot at nailing it as it’s spamming missiles at you.

Unfortunately on my penultimate attempt not only did I take out the StAsp, I also blasted its dropped cargo pod - and knowing what that pod contains...it was back to the load screen for me! It would be mine...
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I’m looking forward to seeing how @drew tackles the mission to get that last piece of equipment - it’s never been video captured before and he’s intending on getting all the Speccy missions.

Hopefully he won’t swear as much as I did 😅
 
Thankfully I’ve not had any more visits from my Red Pirate chums, so I’ve been able to get some serious Eliteineering done this week - I’ve just had the Stealth Asp mission trigger and by ‘eck it’s a toughie!

What initially looks like a trio pirate attack turns out to be a Sidey, a Krait, and the Stealth Asp (it blinks in & out of view while blasting away at you). It’s taken half a dozen attempts before cracking the mission - if you can survive long enough the Asp runs out of energy for its stealth device, giving you a decent shot at nailing it as it’s spamming missiles at you.

Unfortunately on my penultimate attempt not only did I take out the StAsp, I also blasted its dropped cargo pod - and knowing what that pod contains...it was back to the load screen for me! It would be mine...
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I’m looking forward to seeing how @drew tackles the mission to get that last piece of equipment - it’s never been video captured before and he’s intending on getting all the Speccy missions.

Hopefully he won’t swear as much as I did 😅
Fantastic!!! Do you know roughly what triggered the missions from your perspective?

Cheers,

Drew.
 
Fantastic!!! Do you know roughly what triggered the missions from your perspective?

Cheers,

Drew.
The Supernova was in GalMap 2 after purchasing another Galactic Hyperdrive - at a rough guess around 2 or 3 dozen systems after I bought it. I got plonked into the North North West corner of GalMap 3 where I decided to sail the stars anti-clockwise - the Red Pirates ruined my save somewhere in the South-West (Galactic Penzance perchance?) and the StAsp attacked me almost right on the East cardinal point of the map, so almost 3/4 of the way around.

I’d got a “Right On, Commander” the other day so that must put me at just over 1000 kills or the next 250 after that.

I’m voting for the Starfleet intro music for your victory synth (half)keyboard celebration! 😁
 
Winter Is Coming Has Arrived!

A handful of System jumps from my encounter with the StealthAsp and I’ve successfully made first contact with the Thargoids (by which I mean they shot first...) in normal space.

I was just concluding aggressive negotiations with a pirate Asp when it appeared and dropped a pair of Thargons. Bit of a tasty encounter as my shields were down and half my energy bars were depleted due to the Asp, which meant my shiny new Stealth device was a no-no and shooting my Military lasers might kill me before the Thargoid did :)
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Phhht. 128k? - Oh, Lah-de-Dah. Back in my day we had a 1k ZX81 and were glad of it! People with 16k Spectrums were nobbs! If you 'ad a 48k Spectrum, well....
 
(Engages Monty Python Yorkshireman mode)

Pfft - my Dad bought me an Oric 1 and it only had one game, Zorgon’s Revenge, and I wur grateful fer it!

Workin’ a Saturday job paid for my Speccy, and I only got me 128k toastrack when Dixon’s wur selling ‘em off fer a tenner t’get rid o’ stock.

(chews pipe stem and nods slowly)
 
It’s great that a game that’s nearly 36 years old can still surprise me - I got to see a mad boosting Anaconda in @drew ’s livestream this afternoon, as well as finding out that ramming other ships doesn’t increase the player’s Wanted rating. This little snippet of information did come back to bite me in the bum though.

This afternoon I got my next “Right On, Commander”, so I decided to celebrate my possibly-halfway-to-Deadly by taking out the next innocent sans lasers - ramming speed was engaged, the trader Cobra popped, my Wanted level stayed at “Offender”, “Right On, Me” thought I, so it was full speed into the next lucky Cobra.

Pop! went the Cobra - Pop! went my energy unit - Karma raised an eyebrow and whispered, “Yeah?”

Three system jumps to the nearest sufficient Tech level Station (which was a bit hairy at times with Beam Asps and pirate gangs), but that’s my lesson learned! Stick to murdering the innocents with lasers in future! Edit: thought I'd give it another go for shiggles and Pop! went my Docking Computers. Only two jumps to get back to the Tech Station, but still, this game really doesn't want me trying consequence-free murder!

Pity that the Supernova mission didn’t trigger in today’s stream, it looks like it might be a distance dependant thing - I’d gone about half-way around GalChart2, so perhaps 20 - 30 jumps. Unfortunately my savepoint for that mission has failed so I can’t check - it looks like odd things can happen with my emulator when I save mid-flight, but it does mean I’m doing a “traditional” style game of Elite, only saving at Stations.

Edit2: I’m a big fan of the Cloaking Device now that I’ve had a play - I’d say it’s most useful against single Beam Laser equipped opponents like the Pirate Asp; engaging it as they open fire consumes about 1.5 energy banks while you manoeuvre to get on their tail, but I usually lose over half of the EBs plus my forward shields when under their fire on approach. It is possible to fire while under Cloak (if you want to go full Christopher Plummer/General Chang mode) but with Military Lasers the energy banks quickly get depleted and I’m not happy letting them get too low.

Edit3: After having a bit more of a think about Star Trek VI, I realised Chang’s Bird Of Prey was shooting torpedoes, not phasers/lasers/distrupters, so with this in mind I ventured into Anarchy space to test out the tactics. I managed to take out a quad pod of pirates (3xKrait, 1xSidey) while cloaked for the cost of a full complement of missiles, but was left with about a quarter of one energy bank left. Expensive, and left in a precarious position for when the inevitable next pirate showed up. I’ve since tried cloaking during the bigger encounters, in short bursts it can get you out of the hail-of-fire that can lead to the Game Over screen. I’m liking the extra tactical option it’s bringing to the furballs.
 
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I’ve been trying to find any info regarding the triggers for the Secret Missions - according to Ian Bell’s website the 6502 versions’ first mission starts at a rating of “competent twiceover” in Galaxy 1 or 2 and the second at “halfway to Deadly” in Galaxy 3. No mention if this applies to the Spectrum conversion.

In the helpfile to the unofficial 128k Elite 3 it mentions the three original missions: “You are assigned old missions after every message “RIGHT ON COMMANDER”” - but whether these are the original triggers or if they’ve been shifted to allow for the new, hacked-in missions isn’t specified.

It looks like the triggers are kill based as opposed to my earlier idea of them being distance based. I had been going on quite the piracy rampage to finance my Cobra’s Ferrum bum (free cargo is zero outlay after all 🤷‍♂️) so perhaps that’s what caused my Supernova.

Edit: I’ve just had another “Right On Commander” - I can’t believe I’ve got another 250 kills (or is it 256?) since yesterday, but I have had 2 Thargoid encounters since then so perhaps they do count for more than one kill. It might explain why Drew got the RoC at the end of last week’s stream in Thargoid space, but took most of this week’s stream to get it when killing human vessels.
 
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@drew - after yesterday’s RoC I decided it was an opportune time to see if Thargoids are worth more to Galcop than Humans, so I’ve forced hyperdrive misjumps (CapShift, F, Space) and blasted Thargoids until I got the next RoC, with the occasional Station visit to stock up on fuel (I was jumping between two fairly close systems but needed to refuel every fourth misjump). Rough numbers from my hour or so of anti-xeno activity:
  • Thargoid kills = 50ish
  • Human kills = 30ish
...which would mean that Thargoids are worth about 4 human kills.

Edit: had another Boarded By Pirates game over screen during my lunchtime play - I think these may have a chance of happening after scooping pirate cargo or escape pods, I haven’t had one occur during the last week when I’ve not scooped anything apart from a few Thargons this morning. Went on a piracy run just now and the Red Pirates got me after about 6 systems.
 
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On my playthrough stream of original ZX Spectrum Elite - we triggered the Supernova mission today - Very cool indeed! :)

Cheers,

Drew.

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On my playthrough stream of original ZX Spectrum Elite - we triggered the Supernova mission today - Very cool indeed! :)
I remember that mission - and utterly failed.

I had no clue whatsoever how to go about actually doing it - and if I remember right - that was a game over :(
 
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