The MSX version of the classic space trading game, Elite, was programmed by Mr. Micro and published by Firebird in 1987.
Like the Amstrad CPC version, the MSX version also suffers quite badly from “squashed screen syndrome”… Meaning: the play window is tiny! It almost looks taller than it is wide… It’s weird… Again: like the Amstrad version, it doesn’t mar the game too much – thankfully.
The extra colour provided by the MSX makes Elite more enjoyable to play overall. The maps and charts, and the first-person sections, look great with better colour definition.
Frame rate wise MSX Elite is not too bad. The simple wireframes move at maybe ten frames per second – maybe more; maybe less – I don’t really know but it’s not very many frames per second. You have to remember that this is from days when CPUs were really not very fast – compared to what we see today anyway.
The gameplay seems okay too. The ship movement is not as responsive as other 8-bit conversions but it seems to work the same way as all the other Elites – ie. flying using Newtonian physics in a vacuum, rather than cockpit style in an atmosphere.
I don’t know if this conversion has anything unique to the MSX game itself – most Elite conversions do – although the lead programmer, Rob Nicholson, has said that (for contractual reasons) he did not have the source code to work with and therefore had to write the game “blind”. All he had were the ship shapes and the code for the procedural generation of the galaxies. Co-creator of Elite – Ian Bell – has said that he encouraged all converting programmers to “add their own stamp of creativity” to their conversions although it’s not clear if that extended to the MSX version which came a couple of years after the main ‘set’ of conversions by Firebird.
More: Elite on Wikipedia