The Appeal Of Elk On BBC

By Dave M

Originally published in EUG #62

As a BBC collector and webmaster of, I've been very pleased to see all the new software EUG has produced or made available over the past few years, especially all those rare disc Topologika adventures where the BBC equivalents are still missing. I know that EUG's Ed is going on now to set up an archive of Elk disc stuff so to "leave my mark" on EUG, as it were, lemme have a think about why BBC games collectors I know (or have known) find Electron versions of particular interest.

(Thinks) Right, here goes:

  1. Obviously a lot of Elk games run faster on the Beeb, but sometimes this can be highly beneficial to the gaming experience! Playing the Electron version of Repton on a BBC is just tops! - It's more like bloody Boulderdash on speed!
  2. There are visual differences, some minor. e.g. the monochrome displays in Blitzkrieg, Meteors, Cosmic Camouflage, etc; the Mode 5, as opposed to Mode 2, graphics in Yie Ar Kung Fu, Chuckie Egg, Tynesoft multi-part compilations, etc. Some major. e.g. the Reptons and Bonecruncher.

    Probably the best example of the lot though is Frak where the Elk version comes with a flamin' screen editor!! A lot of Beeb users at the time went out and bought Elk Frak purely for this facility (I think one of the mags e.g. Micro User suggested it). In fact, a rather excited Kevin Etheridge [Staunch defender of EUG! - Ed] mailed me just before Christmas raving about having just acquired an Elk version of Frak that runs on a BBC Model B and telling me about all those taxing screens he was gonna design!
  3. I suppose you have the audible differences too. Not having a tune isn't always a bad thing, you know. Especially when it's as irritating as the one in Caveman Capers or Repton Thru Time.
  4. Game keys. Many BBC games use CAPS for left and CTRL for right while their Elk equivalents make use of the more familiar Z and X. Playing such BBC games on an emulator is even more problematic. Look where CAPS is on the PC keyboard. Now look where CTRL is. See what I mean? You can re-map them of course but it's a pain. I'm forever playing Electron Death Star instead of the official BBC one.
  5. Finally, I suppose Elk versions give us the opportunity to fill a few more discs in our 'hacked' games collections. e.g. Rob's Games Disc #178, #179, etc, etc.

OK, so I'm scraping now but five reasons aren't bad. What I'm saying with all this, although I'm sure you do already know, is when compiling the Acorn Electron Haven archive [As it will be known - Ed], remember that it will be of interest to Beeb owners too. So don't include statements like PAGE=&E00 in !BOOT statements, unless you really have to. The Beeb likes PAGE at &1900, although you can usually set it to &1100 without problem. Most emulators are shipped with DFS ROMs that also operate higher than &E00. If your discs are purely AP4 discs then the archive will be accessible to 0% of Beeb users.

Anyway, that's all. I'm sure everyone's sick and tired of people ranting on about the Beeb in the Electron User Group magazine so I will now STFU forevermore.