Elite on the Commodore 64 is slow and flickery (just like the BBC original in fact) but at its core is a fantastic game that refuses to be ruined by the C64‘s limitations.
C64 Elite was well-received by critics at the time of release, in 1985. It famously won a ‘Gold Medal’ award in the leading C64 magazine of the time (Zzap!64), although it clearly wasn’t a game for everyone.
People who bought it tended to play the game properly – managing to buy and trade goods and actually make some progress. People who pirated it (and I would say that was most people), rarely bothered to learn how to play Elite properly so just flew around shooting anything that came within range.
The C64 version of Elite has a unique ‘joke’ mission, involving an infestation of Trumbles (furry creatures that reproduce and take over the ship in much the same way that Tribbles did in Star Trek). The only way to get rid of them is to use a technique called “star-skimming”, which will burn them off the ship and probably singe a few of your hairs in the process…
Elite on the C64 is – without doubt – a phenomenal game – even if it doesn’t look like much from a distance. You have to gain a foothold before you can consider yourself a true Elite player, and to do that you have to read and understand the manual.
The Commodore 64 conversion of Elite was programmed by Ian Bell and David Braben themselves and published by Firebird.
Note: A 128K version of C64 Elite was hacked into existence by Ullrich von Bassewitz in 1998. I’m not entirely sure what enhancements there are but it’s easy to find online.
More: Elite on Wikipedia