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Reviews (N-Z)

Pole Position

982 (1 Player)



Overview and game play

Pole Position is a racing game for 1-2 players that was popular in the arcades and was later converted to several home computers available in the mid eighties such as the Commodore 64. Pole Position also inspired some other racing games for home computers such as Pitstop 1 and 2. One coin is required per game and when the game starts a small grey airship flies across the screen with a banner that reads “prepare to qualify”. Some lights are then used to countdown the start and the player must then drive his/her car as fast as possible through the course to qualify for the race. Driving the car is relatively easy. The steering wheel controls the car left and right and depressing the accelerator and brake pedals speed up and slow down the car respectively. A gear stick can also be used to switch between high and low gears when needed. A counter at the top of the screen indicates how much time remains and the players’ score is shown at the top left of the play area with a “hi” or “lo” printed at the bottom right of the screen to show which gear the players’ car is in.

“Fuji” is the name of the first course and during the qualifying lap the player has the opportunity to get accustomed to controlling the car and keeping it on the road. The road is sometimes straight but it also has bends to the left or right at different curvatures, requiring either a gentle turn of the wheel or a sharp movement just to keep the car on track. At the side of the road there are adverts on billboards and if the player’s car hits one of them, the car will explode in a ball of flames. The car will then be replaced and the game continues until the time is up, but crashes are definitely to be avoided in order to secure good time that will qualify the player to participate in the race. During the qualifying lap, some other cars can be seen on the road and they should be avoided because if the player crashes into them the car will explode as with the roadside adverts. A quick way to slow down is to switch the gears from high to low and back again when going around a sharp corner, as well as using the break pedal. As the game progresses, timing the transition between gears becomes more important to gain some extra speed and therefore reduce a lap time. In low gear the car can reach a maximum of 107 Km per Hour, so watching the speed displayed at the top of the screen is important to know exactly when it the optimum time to change gears without slowing the car down.



If the player successfully completes the qualifying lap in a fast enough time, the airship reappears towing a banner that reads, “prepare to race”. The players’ car is then positioned among other cars according to the lap time s/he achieved and the game continues as before except that more cars are present which makes driving slightly more hazardous, as well as puddles of water on the track which the player must avoid.



The graphics of Pole Position are good for an early 80’s game. Alternating colours are used on the roadside to create the impression of speed as well as scaling roadside adverts. The backgrounds are minimal and consist of a few clouds in the sky and some mountains.





A little jingle plays when a coin is deposited and some pleasant introductory music plays before the start of the race. When the airship flies across the screen, a scratchy female voice reads what is on the banner and the starting lights make sounds as they change. During play, there is no further music save at the high score table and only sound effects are used, that are actually quite good for 1982 when the game was released. Sound effects are used to represent the change of gears, acceleration and breaking as well as passing other cars and driving off the track.



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