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Video Game: Pole Position

Prepare to qualify!

Pole Position is a racing game released by Namco in 1982 (and published by Atari in the United States that same year). Your goal is to drive your Formula One race car around the Fuji Speedway while avoiding crashing into other cars. The game is broken up into two segments: a qualifying round, where you try to complete a lap of the course for positioning and points; and a race segment, where you have to complete four laps around the track before the time runs out. Crossing the start/finish line gives you a time bonus.

Pole Position turned out to be the most popular arcade game in 1983 due to its realistic-for-the-time graphics, and was one of the pioneers of the pseudo-3D "rear-view racer" format (though Sega's Turbo beat it by one yearnote ).

A sequel, entitled Pole Position II, was released in 1983. It added somewhat improved graphics and the ability to choose from one of four courses, including the Fuji Circuit from the original game, and the famous Suzuka International Racing Course (by far the hardest of the four).

The 1984 cartoon of the same name has nothing to do with the games, even though DiC Entertainment did in fact pay Namco to use the name.

Pole Position contains examples of:

  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Your car explodes spectacularly when you even so much as touch another car, costing you time. Though apparently your driver is invincible or something. (This went on to be a common trope for Atari, NES and Genesis-era racing games.)
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If you fail to fulfill the qualifying time, the game will not move on to race mode. Instead you'll keep driving until the time runs out.
  • Product Placement: Seen on the billboards in certain versions.
  • Timed Mission: You have to finish the course before time runs out in the qualifying round to even make it to the actual race.

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