Frontier: Elite 2 appeared for the first time in 1993, just in time for Christmas. It wasn't in my Christmas stocking. I didn't own an Amiga, Atari or PC. I owned a Mega-Drive and spent that Christmas playing Street Fighter II Turbo. However, many parents across the land snapped up the game for their outcast sons and probably didn't see them again until well after the new year.
|Commodore Amiga [3.5 inch diskette]||1993||Coded by David Braben himself in 68000 Assembler.|
|Atari ST [3.5 inch diskette]||1993||Essentially the same as the Amiga version, though was only in 16 colour low res mode and had a few musical compositions. Also written in 68000 Assembler.|
|IBM PC & compatibles [3.5 inch diskette and CD ROM (UK)]||1993||Chris Sawyer ported Frontier to the 286 machines using 80286 Assembler.|
|IBM PC & compatibles [3.5 inch diskette (US)]||1994||This release of Frontier was de-bugged in response to complaints from the first version. Also released in French, German and Spanish language versions.|
|Commodore Amiga CD32 [Compact Disc]||1994||Completely de-bugged and features the Navigation Computer, as seen in FFE, as well as other minor and cosmetic changes. The password protection was also removed.|
|PC [Compact Disc Version]||1997||The de-bugged version of Frontier that appeared on the 'Award Winner's' CD. This is the same as the later floppy disk versions.|
Atari ST review
Here are some scanned images of an original review of Frontier on the Atari ST (the magazine is ST Format):
CD versions: a wasted opportunity
Frontier was first released on CD for the Amiga CD32, and this version of the game is probably the best one released for various reasons. For a start, the password protection was removed as it was considered pointless (which is true). A new device called the 'Navigation Computer' was added, which made things a lot easier with regards to selecting the nearest starport in the system you were in. This device of course appeared in FFE, as well as powerlines and wind turbines at starports, which are also present in this version of Frontier. A rather strange and somewhat pointless addition, but nevertheless, it's an addition.
Apparently, the game files can be put on a floppy disk and played on "proper" Amiga machines, meaning Amiga owners can play the best version of the game on a system that already has a mouse and a keyboard and is much more conducive to playing the game than the antiquated CD32 console. Save games are also interchangeable seeing as the game is essentially the same. What is annoying though is the wasted opportunity with Frontier on the CD format. There's no extras and minimal improvement to the game. When the PC version was released on CD it was even worse, since the aforementioned improvements were absent. In fact the "CD version" is a complete con. They just took the disk version (around 700KB in filesize), decompressed it (to a not so much larger 900KB) and pressed it on a CD. Nothing else. Quite a waste of the 650MB capacity of CDs.
I suppose David Braben and Frontier Developments were already busy working on FFE, but a bit more effort would have been nice, even if it just meant purely cosmetic change, or even a few more bug fixes.
Here are a couple of pictures of a version of Frontier running on a PlayStation Portable: