Description official descriptions
Pole Position is a Formula 1 racing game. Enter the Grand Prix, race against other racing cars to achieve the highest score possible in the shortest amount of time.
Before the player can enter the Grand Prix, the player must first qualify by competing in the Qualifying Lap within 73 seconds or less. If the player, however, does not qualify in the Qualifying Lap, the player may continue to race until the Race Timer runs after 90 seconds. The player will score 50 points per 5 meters and additionally 50 points for every racing car passed. When the time runs out - Game Over. The player will have to restart the Qualifying Lap.
Qualifying will enable the player to start in one of the eight available positions. The faster the lap time was, the better the starting position in addition to bonus score points. The number one starting position is the Pole Position.
During the Grand Prix, the player will compete against the Race Timer as well as against other racing cars. If the player fails to beat the Race Timer in any lap, the player drops out of the race - Game Over. Completing the race by reaching the finishing line will grant the player 200 points per second left on the Race Timer, a bonus score for distance covered, and passing bonus points.
- Every 5 meters driven: 50 points
- Passing Car Bonus: 50 points per racing car
- Time Bonus: 200 points per second left on the Race Timer
- Pole Position - Lap Time: 58"50 seconds - 4,000 points
- 2nd Position - Lap Time: 60"00 seconds - 2,000 points
- 3rd Position - Lap Time: 62"00 seconds - 1,400 points
- 4th Position - Lap Time: 64"00 seconds - 1,000 points
- 5th Position - Lap Time: 66"00 seconds - 800 points
- 6th Position - Lap Time: 68"00 seconds - 600 points
- 7th Position - Lap Time: 70"00 seconds - 400 points
- 8th Position - Lap Time: 73"00 seconds - 200 points
Credits (Arcade version)
Average score: 77% (based on 28 ratings)
Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 96 ratings with 1 reviews)
At the time I'm writing this (2016), Pole Position is 34 years old. As I personally like driving games, I can tell that in between have passed many interesting titles: OutRun, Stunts, Virtua Racing, all the Need For Speed and Gran Turismo series, and the list can go on. Somehow, looks like sports games age more noticeably than others, as the technology every time allows for more and more realism.
So, how it goes for Pole Position? This is a race game, which puts you in the Formula 1. You have two challenges: First, you must qualify to the race, by doing a lap in a given amount of time. If you qualify, you have to survive the race, by making every lap before the timer runs out, and passing cars.
The game sounds simple, and by the way it is, however that doesn't mean it's easy. Pole Position at the time bragged about physics. That is, the car at higher speeds will skid and need a larger radius to make a curve. Also, not at all times the track will be empty to let you to use all the room you need, but more likely will have several opponent cars as obstacles. You will have to use wisely the brake and gears to go through, because the timer won't forgive and last, but not least, any hit against another car or road sign will slow you down - collision detection is the other remarkable feature that Namco, then, took pride on. It's very accurate.
That's the game in overall, but, how it is translated to the Atari 8-bit computers? Consider that most people had joysticks to play with; for myself I had the original Atari joystick: Eight directions with a frail stick, and a single button. With that, Atari had to work a way to give the feel of a steering wheel, two pedals - gas and brake - and a gear stick of the arcade version. It may sound not good, but don't rush - they kept it simple and it's very easy to get used to. Throttle is always set to full, to the sides you steer, up and down are gears - low and high -, and the button brakes. Controls are very responsive and you won't get disappointed.
Graphics are very interesting as they may look too simple - they are actually, when compared to the arcade version. The cars are square shaped, you won't see any curves at all. However, they do their work well, as you can recognize easily a racing cars. I reckon the reason to keep them as simple was speed, as the track can convey that feel, with no slow downs, even when you approach many cars on the road.
Sound is also simple as well, but gets the job done. With Atari's 4 voices you will hear the engine, skids, cars passed and blow ups when colliding.
As for difficulty, the game stands well. I have played it many times and remains challenging. It can be adjusted depending on the number of laps - from 1 to 8 - and the track. The circuit itself won't change, but Malibu Grand Prix - easiest - has less opponents and signs, Namco Speedway is the intermediate, and Atari Grand Prix will offer you the ultimate competition with curves full of signs and many cars on rush hour to crash on. I think I beat 8 laps on that difficulty only once in my life.
Can't complain with real perspective on Pole Position for Atari 8 Bit. I could think of a remarkable soundtrack like OutRun, a wide variety of tracks like many others, but... They came after Pole Position. This game is like watching the begin of modern civilization. So no, I can't find something wrong with it.
The Bottom Line
Try this survival racing game! There's no way you arrive in last place, but certainly odds are that you won't even arrive, even with the fastest car. To youngsters, Pole Position is not about nostalgia, but seeing where most modern racing games came from.
Atari 8-bit · by jose vargas (22) · 2016
|Pole Positon(Arcade) in Microsoft's Return of the Arcade for Windows||Andrew Fisher (695)||Aug 21st, 2022|
Pole Position was popular enough to have a Saturday morning TV cartoon based on it in the early 1980s.
References to the game
- The game is referenced in the movie The Goonies. When the kids discover One-Eyed Willies' treasure map, Chunk (Jeff Cohen) notices the date, 1632, and asks if it was a year. At that point, Mouth (Corey Feldman) tells him, "No, it's your top score in Pole Position".
- Pole Position is briefly featured in the 1984 Swedish comedy film Jönssonligan får guldfeber (The Jönsson Gang Gets Gold Fever) along with another classic, Video Olympics. At the beginning of the movie, the game is played on a pocket TV. Later it is mistaken for Sweden's "general plan" chip and can be seen running on what appears to be a Casio FP-1000/1100 personal computer.
- Happy Computer
- Issue 04/1985 - #10 Best Game in 1984 (Readers' Vote) (Commodore 64 and Atari versions)
- Issue 04/1984 - Video Game of the Year 1983 (Readers' Vote)
- Issue 04/1984 - #2 Computer Game of the Year 1983 (Readers' Vote)
- Issue 04/1984 - Arcade Game of the Year 1983 (Readers' Vote)
Information also contributed by Big John WV.
Related Sites +
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AtariMania (Atari 8-bit)
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Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Atarisoft, BBC Micro)
For BBC Micro, Cassette: exhibit reference ID CH4532; additional material.
Cambridge Centre for Computing History (DataSoft, C64)
For Commodore 64, Cassette: exhibit reference ID CH11621; additional material.
Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Namco, Atari 2600)
For Atari 2600, Cartridge: exhibit reference ID CH354; additional material.
Cambridge Centre for Computing History (Namco, ZX Spectrum)
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Derrick 'Knight' Steele.
Commodore 64 added by Quapil. TI-99/4A added by Corn Popper. BBC Micro added by fwibbler. Atari 5200 added by RKL. ZX Spectrum added by Martin Smith. Arcade added by Pseudo_Intellectual. Atari 2600, Intellivision, VIC-20, Vectrex, Atari 8-bit added by Servo.
Game added March 7th, 2000. Last modified August 27th, 2023.