Jump to content

Elite Systems

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Elite Systems
Company typePrivate
IndustryComputer software
Software publishing

Elite Systems is a British video game developer and publisher established in 1984 as Richard Wilcox Software.[1] It is known for producing home computer conversions of popular arcade games.[2] Elite also published compilations of games on the Hit-Pak label and budget price re-releases on the Encore label.


Under the name Richard Wilcox Software, only one title was published: Blue Thunder for the ZX Spectrum, Atari 8-bit computers, and Commodore 64. In August 1984, the group was relaunched as Elite Systems,[3] expanding the team to include graphic designers Rory Green and Jon Harrison; programmers Neil A. Bate, Chris Harvey, Andy Williams and Stephen Lockley; administrators Paul Smith and Pat Maisey; and Wilcox's brother Steve handled sales and marketing.[1] Its first release under the new Elite Systems label was Kokotoni Wilf,[1] which also carried the first of their anti-counterfeiting holograms on the cassette inlay card.[3]

By 1986, the company was developing many home computer licenses of arcade machines. Their Aldridge-based headquarters housed a row of arcade cabinets for games that were being converted. Their hardware had been hacked so the team could analyse the games to ensure an accurate, licensed conversion.[2] Three of their conversions, Commando, Ghosts 'n Goblins and Paperboy, were among the UK's top ten best-selling home video games of 1986.[4]

At the 1986 Golden Joystick Awards, Elite was awarded "Software House of the Year" by Computer and Video Games magazine[5] and received a "Game of the Year" award for Paperboy from the British software industry the following year.[6]

Elite launched its first budget label, £2.99 Classics in July 1986[6] achieving chart success with re-releases of older titles from other software houses such as Scuba Dive, Full Throttle and Skool Daze. The label was closed before the end of the year when developers took legal action against the company for non-payment of royalties.[7] A new budget label, Encore, was launched in 1988[8][9] with its first 5 titles, Airwolf, Bomb Jack, Battleships, Saboteur, and Frank Bruno's Boxing all coming from Elite's back-catalogue.[9]

Elite Systems began creating video games for the NES and Game Boy in the early 1990s through its associated development house MotiveTime.[10]

In 2010, the company began selling versions of classic ZX Spectrum games licensed from the original developers for iOS and Android systems and in January 2014 they announced plans to crowdfund a Spectrum-themed bluetooth keyboard, the Recreated ZX Spectrum, that would attach to mobile devices.[11][12][13] Elite Systems took down the ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection app the following month, due to complaints from authors that they had never been paid royalties.[14][15] Steve Wilcox responded in a statement on their website[16] where he claimed he was "working towards" making all outstanding payments with 28 days and that the games were being withdrawn from sale in the meantime.

In April 2014, it was reported that Elite Systems had fully repaid the overdue royalties and cancelled the contracts it had with the unpaid developers.[17]

Wired described the finished device, which was styled as an original Spectrum 48k keyboard, as "absolutely gorgeous"[18] but said it was ultimately more of an expensive novelty than an actual Spectrum. In July 2019, Eurogamer reported that many of the orders had yet to be delivered due to a dispute between Elite Systems and their manufacturer, Eurotech.[19]

List of mobile games[edit]

List of older games[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "News Input - Elite Under Way". CRASH (9): 43. October 1984.
  2. ^ a b Smith, Rachael (May 1986). "Your Sinclair" (5): 56–57. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Frontlines – Holo Victory?". Your Spectrum (9): 3. October 1984.
  4. ^ "Yie Ar tops charts for 1986". Popular Computing Weekly. 12 February 1987. p. 6.
  5. ^ "Golden Joystick Awards". Computer and Video Games. No. 66 (April 1987). EMAP. 16 March 1987. pp. 100–1.
  6. ^ a b David Crookes (2009-06-18). "From The Archives - Elite Systems". Retro Gamer. No. 65. Imagine. pp. 53–54.
  7. ^ "Storm breaks over Elite's budget label". Popular Computing Weekly. No. 49. Sunshine Publications. 4 December 1986. p. 6. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  8. ^ "Re-release City". Zzap. No. 40. Newsfield. 14 July 1988. p. 9. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Advert: "Only Elite Games Are Good Enough For An Encore"". Zzap. No. 39. Newsfield. 9 June 1988. pp. 2–3. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  10. ^ "The British Invasion". Nintendo Power. Vol. 23. Nintendo of America. April 1991. p. 47.
  11. ^ Sharwood, Simon (29 January 2014). "Sinclair's ZX Spectrum to LIVE AGAIN!". The Register. Archived from the original on 31 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  12. ^ Hamilton, Alex (2 January 2014). "ZX Spectrum is coming back as a Bluetooth keyboard". TechRadar. Archived from the original on 4 February 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  13. ^ Curtis, Sophie (2 January 2014). "ZX Spectrum to be resurrected as Bluetooth keyboard". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  14. ^ Alex Hern. "ZX Spectrum Kickstarter project stalls over unpaid developer bills". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  15. ^ F, Casey (2014-02-03). "Elite Systems Blaster". Leviathyn.com. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  16. ^ Wilcox, Steve. "Temporary Withdrawal From App Stores". Elite Systems. Elite Systems. Archived from the original on March 6, 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  17. ^ Corriea, Alexa Ray (2014-04-30). "ZX Spectrum keyboad maker pays overdue royalties". Polygon.com. Vox Media. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  18. ^ Rundle, Michael (2015-10-01). "Which of the 'retro' Spectrum remakes is worth your £100?". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
  19. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (2016-07-08). "When Kickstarters go bad: chasing down the Recreated ZX Spectrum". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2020-07-30.

External links[edit]