[Review] Pole Position (Atari 2600)


pole-position-cover

REVIEW # 00000000 00111100

Fast-paced track fun!

Pole Position is one of the fistful of racing games released for Atari 2600. It’s a port of Namco’s famous Pole Position, released for Arcade in 1982 that was an incredible success. Atari quickly got the rights to develop a cartridge for its console and, despite the copyright date states 1982, in 1983 they put on the market their version of the game. This was just one of the conversions, since the game was release also for Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, Intellivision, TI-99/4A, Vectrex, VIC-20 and ZX Spectrum (this one is a version I’m very attached to).

My heart says…

70%

What happens when a guy crazy for Formula 1 gets an Atari 2600 with Pole Position in nearly mint conditions during the period in which there are no races? Simple, he hooks up his 2600 and start to play.

Ok, I admit we are no more in the 80s so a game like this shouldn’t be the state of art for a racing game however I have to say that somehow Pole Position reminds a bit the arcade title from which has been ported and it’s even rather fun. Maybe just for a short time, but it’s fun.

Splash screen

70%

Pole Position, differently from other Atari games, especially the early ones, do have an opening screen. A simple one actually, with the credits to Atari which displays a track that should be the Fuji Speedway (and with a lot of imagination we can trust it is). So only for this I think it should deserve a little more consideration. However it’s hard to rate something like this so I think I will go for an encouraging 7/10.

pole-position-splash

Graphics

80%

Compared to other Atari titles, even later ones Pole Position aged quite well; for the performances of Atari 2600 I can fearlessly say that it’s for sure in the top range, at least regarding the visuals. Forget all the obscure Atari games with no sprites and dark colors, here we have a shiny colorful simulation with pseudo-3D set and everchanging background objects. The car you’re driving is supposedly a Ferrari, since is red and we can even see the effect of the wheels spinning.

Not bad for a 1983 game on a 70s console.

pole-position-1

Unfortunately the sprites of the cars that you’re chasing are not as well made as your car is: they’re all made in an horrible youllowish color and they seems more like hurdles than cars. Obviously the limitations of the console are explicit, especially if compared with the wonderful arcade version but in the end we can say that Pole Position did just fine.

Narrative

60%

Gameplay

60%

The gameplay department is maybe the one that suffers more for the porting from the arcade version. In Pole Position you have to complete the first lap within a given time of 73 seconds and then you can race (only two laps). Every 5 meters you gain 50 points plus 50 points every car you overtake and other 100 points per every second you save at the end of the race.

The car has two gears (LO and HI) and can be slowed down when goes outside the track limits and on the kerbs. Crashing against another car doesn’t create any problem if not some seconds lost. After a crash be careful to remember to start again with LO gear otherwise the torque will reach the maximum value when the race will be over…

pole-position-1

So far so good, but the game…it’s over.

Yes, after the race you can watch your score, make a smile, give a pat on your shouder (yes you have to do it yourself, since it’s a 1P game) and then you have to start all over again, trying to beat yourself.

…Meh…

Sound

60%

The sound effects are rather good and they’re limited to the sound of the engine, the loss of grips during the corners and the noise when you go out of the track. Oh, and you can even hear the sound of the explosion when you hit another car. There’s no menu or background music but there’s no need of it. Maybe it would have been better to hear the sound of other cars too but you can only hear the sound of the air compressed once you overtake them. So in the end a good compromise.

Longevity

30%

Veeeeery small. As you can read in the gameplay section, this game is very limited and this is the biggest issue. You get a game that you can play for half an hour before you ged tired and obviously you cannot save your high score. So, thumb down…

Final Score 64/100

65%


Year: 1983

Developer: Pixel Painters

Publisher: Pixel Painters

Genre: Puzzle

Game Mode: Single Player

Original Platform: MS-DOS

From same developers:

  • Galaxian (1979)
  • Pac-Man (1980)
  • Galaga (1981)
  • Bosconian (1981)
  • Xevious (1982)
  • Mappy (1984)
  • Ridge Racer (1993)
  • Tekken (1995) and sequels
  • Soulcalibur (1996)

From the same publisher:

  • See List of games by Atari

Inspired to:

  • F-1 (1976)
  • Monaco GP (1979)

If you liked it you can also try:

Other chapters of the saga:

  • Pole Position II (1983)
  • Final Lap (1987)
  • Final Lap Twin (1989)
  • Final Lap 2 (1990)
  • Final Lap 3 (1992)
  • Final Lap R (1993)

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Mill says:

    I’m really looking forward playing this. The graphics a quite impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is actually one of my favorite ports of this game as well as my favorite port on the 2600. They just did a great job of stuffing the arcade game into this cart. I always boot it up when I dig out the 2600.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      I alwas give it a go anytime I turn on my 2600 too. Pole Position comes first, then Dragonfire…

      Like

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