Pole Position is the conversion of the arcade 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 point 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.
Pole Position is a racing game; you're a Formula 1 driver, and you want to become champion. Sounds easy, and it is. There's no plot or track selection, just simple racing on pre-defined racecourses. Every new track has more turns, some of them quite sharp, which makes it more difficult to get to the finish line.
Driving in this game is very easy. You can define keys to control acceleration, braking, turning left and right, and switching gears (your car only has two). When you drive, you need to carefully avoid your opponents; otherwise your car will explode just by touching them, taking quite a few seconds from your precious time. The same thing occurs when you try to drive through the signs on the side of the track.
Time is most valuable in this game, but not for an obvious reason. You could be thinking, "If I lose time, I lose my position in the race." The funny thing is that the game doesn't track your position; if you pass another car, you gain nothing, and if someone overtakes you, you lose nothing. All that matters is to get to the checkpoint before the time expires - I believe you can imagine what will happen when the timer reaches zero.
GAME OVER The graphics aren't good, and the four-color palette doesn't make the game pretty. Apart from this, the screen looks like it's divided into two parts: The lower one shows the track, and this is the place where you should look; the upper part shows some mountains, which scroll right and left when you go around curves, and the sky.
One of the most loved arcade games, Pole Position is a watershed in arcade racing games and was THE game that set standard for all subsequent "checkpoint racers" (i.e. racing through checkpoints against the clock). Designed by Japan's NAMCO and licensed by Atari in the US, the game's launch in 1982 attracted countless arcade fans.
This rare PC version by NAMCO unfortunately won't give you the same feeling as the semi-authentic steering wheel and gas pedal setup of the arcade version, but it nevertheless remains a fun and addictive game. Although naturally the game's 4-color CGA palette pales in comparison to vibrant colors of the arcade version (which you can find to run on MAME emulator by searching the web), many of the game's innovations carry over to the PC version, back when black-and-white wireframe graphics were still the norm. Scalable foreground objects, detailed graphics including the sky and scenery, and very smooth gameplay are all the hallmarks that make Pole Position one of the true classics.
Even without the steering wheel and gas pedal, Pole Position for PC remains as challenging as it was in the arcades. It takes a lot of finesse and practice to find a good balance between speed and control, while you try not to smash into billboards along the roadside. The game is not too difficult, though - some practice should be enough for even novices to qualify for the big race.
NAMCO certainly made the best out of PC's capabilities in 1983 with Pole Position. Even without the convincing colors, sounds and realistic setup of the arcade version, this PC version offers the same excellent gameplay and crisp graphics that stand the test of time quite well. It's much better than the vast majority of other PC racing games at that time, and a true pioneer in its genre. If you like racing games, here's one pedigree you shouldn't miss.
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