Elite (Firebird Gold Edition/Firebird/Rainbird)

Elite (Firebird/Gold Edition/Rainbird)


All versions of Elite published by TelecomSoft in Europe were released under the Firebird label. Microprose released "Elite Plus" on the Rainbird label in the UK in 1991, and with slightly amended artwork for the US release via their MicroStyle label.

The back of the TelecomSoft Elite boxes say:

Command your Cobra space ship in a fantastic voyage of discovery and adventure, a supreme test of your combat, navigational and entrepreneurial skills.

Trade between countless planets, using the proceeds to equip your ship with heat-seeking missiles, beam lasers and other weapons - corporate states can be approached without risk, but unruly anarchies may be swarming with space pirates.

Black market trading can be lucrative but could result in skirmishes with local police and a price on your head!

However you make your money, by fair means or foul, you must blast onwards through space annihilating pirate ships and hostile aliens as you strive to earn your reputation as one of the Elite!

Each of the TelecomSoft Elite boxes had a single screenshot on the back from the relevant version.

Three Spectrum versions!

There were three different official Spectrum versions of Elite published by Firebird - the original 48k release (with Lenslok), the 48k (but 128k compatible) version without Lenslok, and a special limited release Opus Discovery 3.5 inch disk version (sold as an exclusive through Boots - The Chemist).


All three Spectrum versions shared the same box, the same barcode and therefore the same internal production number.

MSX Sticker

I'm not sure about the cassette release, but the MSX disk 'Elite' boxes were really Spectrum 48k boxes with an orange MSX format sticker strategically covering up its Spectrum heritage! The barcode on the back of the box was presumably a sticker as well, as those versions had different barcodes to the Spectrum release.

Magazine adverts

There were more Elite adverts published in the UK than for any other TelecomSoft title.

When the Sinclair Spectrum version was published in late 1985, a new white shop poster was produced. The red and white banner at the top said "Be Dangerous. Here" and the poster featured a single screenshot from the two versions of the game (C64 and Spectrum), along with the Elite badge logo artwork and the usual Firebird and TelecomSoft logos and references


1 thought on “Elite (Firebird/Gold Edition/Rainbird)

  1. Grunaki

    I was always intrigued by Elite back in my Speccy days, but despite rave reviews, I never bought it.

    A few years later, I was in a used game store and found the ST version fairly cheap, so I picked it up – and I’m glad I did.

    I loved the open-endedness of the game – pick a system and go – “out there – thataway!” as Kirk says at the end of the first ‘Star Trek’ movie.. (Well, as far as your funds and fuel will take you.. A concept that was obviously nicked by ‘Star Control 2’ – which is another great spacefaring game – and is now open-source! Google it!)

    I really enjoyed the physics – like having to match rotation with the Coriolis space stations in order to dock (blatantly nicked from 2001 – a space odyssey) – but of course I bought a docking computer ASAP! 🙂

    I also liked how you could go from being running scared in the first instance (like if you came up against a Thargoid, Viper or Wolf MkII, which would likely wipe the floor with you if you only had a pulse laser) and eventually turned it around once you made the credits to acquire a military laser and could start hunting them down.

    The only minor gripe I would have with it is that I don’t think there’s any way to finish the game, so you’re just blasting through space forever..


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