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BBC Micro Elite... with music!

BBC Micro and BBC Master Elite, with added title and docking music

When you ask people for their fondest memories of 8-bit Elite, you get all sorts of responses. Perhaps it's launching from Lave for the very first time... and dying not long after. Or maybe it's fighting Thargoids in witchspace. Or wrestling with the Lenslok copy protection on the Spectrum. Or the trauma of docking... there's always the trauma of docking. Heck, you even get people remembering things that couldn't have happened, from generation ships and ship-swapping to being pulled over and boarded by the cops (none of which are in-game, alas).

But ask Commodore 64 fans what they remember the most, and the chances are they'll say "The Blue Danube!", because the Commodore 64 port was the first version of Elite to come with music, and boy, did the authors use it well. The first tune you hear is the title screen's catchy earworm, which was composed by Aidan Bell, brother of Ian Bell, the co-author of the game... but once you manage to get hold of a docking computer, the real magic happens. As you engage auto-dock and your ship turns towards the station, the game plays the Blue Danube, brilliantly echoing that seminal scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The docking music is integral to the experience of Elite on the Commodore 64, and hearing it for the first time must have been a hoot, particularly if you didn't know it was coming. It's always been a bit annoying for us BBC Micro fans that we missed out on such a cool addition to the Elite experience; we can probably live without the Trumbles, but the music really is a win for the Commodore gang.

Music now available on the BBC

Happily, BBC Micro and BBC Master players can now enjoy the very same music as their Commodore friends, and all you need is 16K of sideways RAM (which is an optional extra on the BBC Micro, but comes as standard in the BBC Master).

As a bonus, I've extended the volume controls in BBC Master Elite so they change the volume of the music as well as the sound effects, and I've backported this feature to the BBC Micro and 6502 Second Processor versions, so everyone can now enjoy a quieter Elite experience.

Here's what it sounds like, assuming you have audio enabled:

If you've always wanted to waltz your way into the space station, then check out the downloads page to get hold of a copy, or see the technical information for details of how it works.