Developed by Mr. Micro and published by Firebird in 1988 the Atari ST version of Elite is pretty much identical to the Amiga version – in terms of graphics and gameplay.
The game has the same blue panels surrounding the viewing window and the same instrumentation panels. And uses the same keyboard and mouse layout for the controls.
I did read that the programmer wrote the 16-bit conversions of Elite without having the source code, which does raise some concerns, but after playing both the Amiga and ST versions for some time there is little doubt in my mind that this is the Elite we know and love.
One tip I will give any new Elite player – if you’re trying to learn to play the game properly for the first time – is… Figure out how to find space stations quickly, and then how to line-up for manual docking. Which isn’t easy.
What you need to do, upon entering any new system is: face the nearest planet and line-up the dot in the crosshairs and fly towards it. When you see an S on the indicator panel you’ve entered a space station’s ‘safe zone’. Then fly quickly towards the space station until it comes into view, keeping the dot in the crosshairs. To line-up for manual docking: use the reverse view and fly slowly away from the entry door until it lines-up behind you. Then – when you’re lined-up – return to the front view and fly slowly towards the docking bay door. Entering can be tricky so beginners are advised to make a save before attempting to dock. And buy a docking computer as soon as you can! It takes the pain out of docking…
The ST and Amiga conversions of Elite are both superb. The only game in the same class that might be considered better is probably Elite Plus on the PC.
Note: the Amiga and ST versions were published by Rainbird in North America.
More: Elite on Wikipedia