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Elite on the BBC Micro and NES

Feature comparison table

The following table lists almost all of the differences between the official Acornsoft versions of Elite on this site.

This table doesn't contain every single difference between the versions, just those that have a noticeable impact in-game. For a complete list of every single difference between the versions, see how to compare the Acornsoft versions of Elite (in particular, I recommend the curated lists).

In the following, "Cassette" and "Disc" refer to the BBC Micro cassette and BBC Micro disc versions respectively. Also, Elite-A is not included, as it is a modification of the BBC Micro disc version and lists all its variations within the source code itself, and non-Acornsoft versions are also omitted.

Release year19841984198419851986
Ship types11113313333
Thargoids, ThargonsNoYesYesYesYes
Dodo space stationNoNoYesYesYes
Cougar has a cloaking devicen/an/an/aNoYes
Rock hermitsNoNoNoYesYes
Distinct2 ship designs1012293030
Max. ships in the local bubble31010101810
Max. cops in the local bubble34476
Bytes in each ship's data block3636373737
Enhanced AI and spawning (NEWB)NoNoYesYesYes
Ships that Anacondas can spawnn/an/aWormWorm
Colours in the space view22244
Colours in the dashboard24488
Flashing dashboard indicatorsNoYesYesYesYes
Ship colours in the 3D scanner12266
Dot height in the 3D scanner22221
Dashboard horizontal pixel count256128128128128
Escape pod colour scheme4NoPalettePaletteBorderBorder
Mining lasers and asteroid miningNoNoYesYesYes
Military lasersNoNoYesYesYes
Crosshair colour varies with laser typeNoNoNoNoYes
Enemy laser colourWhiteWhiteWhiteRedCyan
Proper docking computerNoNoYesYesYes
Sun, fuel scooping, cabin temperatureNoYesYesYesYes
Planet meridians and cratersNoYesYesYesYes
Extended text tokensNoNoYesYesYes
Extended system descriptionsNoNoYes5YesYes
Energy bomb kills Constrictorn/an/aYesNoNo
Energy bomb kills Thargoidsn/aYesYesYesNo
Energy bomb graphical effectNoFlashFlashNoLightning
"Press Fire or Space" shipMambaMambaKraitAsp Mk IICougar
Search for systems by nameNoNoYesYesYes
SHIFT moves chart pointer quicklyNoNoYesYesYes
Buy/sell specific amounts of cargoNoNoYesYesYes
Buy all available cargo with "Y"NoNoYesYesYes
Display ship hangar on dockingNoNoYesYesYes
Launch tunnel colourWhiteWhiteWhiteYellowWhite
Disc access menuNoNoYesYesYes
Revert to default commanderNoNoNoNoYes
Fractional kill countsNoNoNoNoYes
Kill count varies by ship typeNoNoNoNoYes
"S/E" indicator width (in mode 4 pixels)76688
Fuel goes red when lowNoYesYesNoNo
Volume controlNoNoNoNoYes
Sound effectsBasicStandardStandardStandardEnhanced
Laser sound attack phase amplitude6n/a112126126n/a
Save screenshotNoNoNoYesNo
Send trade screens to printerNoNoNoYesNo
Logarithm-based maths routinesNoNoNoYesYes
Hostile ships spawning distance3232252525
Galactic hyperspace counts down from15151522
Hyperspace countdown text column55664
Rings in the hyperspace tunnel16161688
Launch escape pod in witchspacen/aFatalYesNoNo
Thargoids in witchspacen/a4443
Docking check7 #3YesYesNoNoNo
Docking check7 #4 vectorStationStationPlanetPlanetPlanet
Docking check7 #4 angle22.0°22.0°26.3°22.0°22.0°
Medium circle radius range89+8-608-604-508-60
Explosion particles per vertex71515157
Stardust particles1018181820
Top laser line vertical offset900012
In-flight message positionColumn 9Column 9Column 9CentredCentred
Max. junk shown on our death44555
Version bit number in save file10312 or 523
"Star Wars" scrolltext and demoNoNoNoYesNo
Random Saturn on load screenYesYesYesYesNo
Title banners on load screenYesYesYesYesNo
Saturn planet dot counts12801280768768768
Saturn ring dot counts12801280819819819
Saturn dot plotting logicOROROverwriteOverwriteOverwrite
TINA hook11NoNoNoYesNo
Joystick support12NoYesYesYesYes
Bitstik support13NoNoYesYesYes
Loading pause on launch/dockNoNoYesNoNo
CPU speed1-2MHz2MHz2MHz3MHz2MHz
Size of loader binaries (bytes)144,8645,4268,4486,557721
Size of main binaries (bytes)1519,20020,71239,99445,25344,616
Total size of all binaries (bytes)1624,06426,13848,44251,81045,337
Total instruction count8,6539,40216,17612,96012,304


  1. ^ Including space stations, but not including the 6502 Second Processor version's Elite logo, or the planet and sun.
  2. ^ The BBC Micro cassette and Electron versions use the Cobra blueprint twice (for trader and pirate); the BBC Micro disc version also uses the Python blueprint twice (again for trader and pirate); and the 6502SP and Master versions also use the asteroid blueprint twice (for the asteroid and the rock hermit).
  3. ^ Not including the space station, planet or sun.
  4. ^ The original versions change the whole dashboard palette to indicate that an escape pod is fitted, whereas the advanced versions just change the colour of the dashboard's border. The Electron is monochrome, so it doesn't use the palette to indicate the presence of an escape pod; instead, it displays "Escape Capsule" in the Status Mode screen.
  5. ^ In the BBC Micro disc version, extended system descriptions are only shown when docked.
  6. ^ This subtle difference in the definition of the laser sound envelope makes the lasers noticeably quieter on the BBC Micro cassette version. The Master version has a unique sound system that doesn't use the standard sound envelopes, so this doesn't apply, and the Electron's sound effects are different again.
  7. ^ See the deep dive on Docking checks for more details of what these mean for docking.
  8. ^ In the non-Electron versions, a step size of 8 is used for drawing small circles, while 4 is used for medium circles and 2 for large circles. In the Electron version, small circles use a step size of 8, while all other circles use a step size of 4.
  9. ^ In the original versions, both sets of laser lines converge at the same pixel. In the 6502 Second Processor version, the upper pair of laser lines aim one pixel higher than the lower pair, so they overlap less, and the Master version aims one pixel higher than that. Because EOR logic is used when drawing, this gives the lasers in the 6502 Second Processor version a sharper point, and the Master version a much sharper point, as the tips overlap less and don't cancel each other out.
  10. ^ The version bit was changed from 2 to 5 when the refund bug in the first version of BBC Micro disc Elite was fixed. Before the bug was fixed, buying a laser that you already owned affected your credit balance.
  11. ^ Arbitrary code can be executed on the I/O processor just before the main game code terminates. This could be used for loading device drivers, for example. The address of the code block is &0B00, and the code block must start with the string "TINA", followed by the code to be run. The call handler is implemented at the end of the STARTUP routine.
  12. ^ The Master Compact release supports the Compact's digital joystick, as well as the standard analogue joystick. The Electron version contains a lot of joystick code, and it is possible to configure joysticks using the "K" option when paused, but the code to actually read joystick values from the ADC channels is omitted, so joysticks can't be used even if configured. That said, the chart routines still call the relevant joystick code, and configuring joysticks does move the crosshairs, just not in a controllable way.
  13. ^ The Acorn Bitstik is a three-axis joystick that was aimed at professional graphics and CAD. The extra axis means you can twist the stick as well as move it, which Elite lets you use to control the ship's speed.
  14. ^ The breakdowns are as follows:
    • Disc = 256 (loader 1) + 2,816 (loader 2) + 5,376 (loader 3)
    • 6502 Second Processor = 788 (loader 1) + 5,769 (loader 2)
  15. ^ The breakdowns are as follows:
    • Disc = 19,997 (docked) + 17,437 (flight) + 2,560 (ship blueprint file)
    • 6502 Second Processor = 6,454 (I/O processor) + 38,799 (parasite)
    • Master = 27,720 (code) + 16,896 (data)
  16. ^ For comparison, these variants have the following binary sizes:
    • Executive version (a variant of the 6502SP version) = 788 (loader 1) + 5,769 (loader 2) + 6,451 (I/O processor) + 39,143 (parasite) = 52,151 bytes
    • Master Compact release = loader (740) + 27,904 (code) + 16,896 (data) = 45,540 bytes