Pole Position (Arcade) review
"I remember a few years ago when just about every arcade I would go to had a Pole Position cabinet backed against a corner somewhere inside. Many of the small arcades (here's to remembering Battles Skating Rink!) didn't have any racing games but Pole Position. "
I remember a few years ago when just about every arcade I would go to had a Pole Position cabinet backed against a corner somewhere inside. Many of the small arcades (here's to remembering Battles Skating Rink!) didn't have any racing games but Pole Position.
Pole Position revolutionized racing games tremendously when it first came out. Before Pole Position, the most realistic racing game that had ever been witnessed was Night Driver. Pole Position was much more realistic. It had realistic graphics for the time (scenery!), the controls were more responsive (it actually had gears), it was more challenging, and the racing itself was a lot like being in a real race car.
These days, for people who stop and take a look at Pole Position in the arcades, you'll see that it's just a basic racing game by modern standards. It sure hasn't aged well, but for the time, there was nothing else like it.
In Pole Position, you drive a race car that is sort of like the one that Mario Andretti used to drive. I don't remember what they're called (I think it's either Formula One cars or Indy cars) because they never show those races on TV anymore, but they're not stock cars. Anyway, there are a bunch of other cars just like the one you have to drive that are scattered throughout the track to serve as your opponents.
Unlike most racing games, in Pole Position you don't start out in the real race that counts. Instead, you have to race, pass enough cars, and finish before time runs out (and in a good enough pole position) in order to qualify for the real deal. If you successfully qualify, you will then proceed to the real race and test your skills at driving this almost antique race car.
Even though Pole Position is old and gray by now, it is still sort of fun to play. The main reason it's still here today is because it was revolutionary, and it provides a good challenge. It can be pretty tough to even qualify, and then it's even more of a challenge in the main race. If you don't finish a race before time runs out, you will be given a final score. If your score is high enough, you'll be able to put in your initials on the list of high scores. It sounds simple, but seeing your name or initials on a high score list can give you pride!
Pole Position took racing games from being mediocre and obscure, to being realistic and enjoyable. Many gamers who are huge fans of racing games still enjoy this title very much. Unfortunately, it just hasn't ever been one of my personal favorites. Even though the controls are responsive, it's still a cinch to crash. And when you crash, it seems to take a bloody eternity for the car to magically rebuild itself enough to be driven. That's its falling point to me. But there's no denying Pole Position's place in history.
GRAPHICS - For the time, the graphics in Pole Position were spectacular. There are clouds, scenery such as signs, grass, semi-realistic looking race cars, and more. The visuals are also colorful, which makes them classic eye candy. 9/10
SOUND - The sound in Pole Position isn't bad at all either, but it's probably the weakest part of the game. You will hear sounds such as skidding tires, crashes, and the running motor itself. They were all well done, but there's nothing about them that really stands out from the crowd; they're satisfied with being mediocre. 5/10
CONTROL - Pole Position's controls are real simple to learn and to get used to. To steer your car, of course you have the steering wheel. There is also a knob that allows you to choose either high gear or low gear, and you can change it at any time during the game. There is a brake and an accelerator down at your feet. The brake and the accelerator are in the form of two metal bars that are at an upward, 45º angle. Oh yeah, unlike some other popular racing games such as Super Off Road (my favorite class arcade racer!) and Super Sprint, Pole Position is in the form of an arcade cabinet, which allows you to sit down inside the machine while you play the game. That was yet another realistic feature of this game.
The controls in the game are all responsive and easy to master, which is what they should be. 10/10
REPLAY VALUE - I'm going to be honest. Pole Position hasn't ever been one of my favorite arcade games, and not even one of my favorite racing games. However, I did like playing it from time to time if I had already played the other arcade games that I enjoyed playing. It is somewhat fun to see how high of a score you can get, but that's about all. 6/10
OVERALL (not an average) - Even though Pole Position isn't one of my favorites, I do like it pretty well. For its time it was unbelievable and without it, we might not have seen some of the great racing games that were to come in later years. Almost everything about it, especially its graphics and controls, was revolutionary. Pole Position is a true classic, but it just hasn't aged well. 6/10
Community review by retro (January 16, 2004)
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