Pleasing copy of the motor-racing classic
Arcade action explodes on your screen in this official copy of Atari's top money earner. The Fuji Grand Prix is the setting and it's up to you to burn round the track overtaking other drivers and notch up record-breaking lap times.
When you start the race, you first have to complete a qualifying round in an allotted time. The faster the lap time, the better your grid placing.
A lap faster than 58.50 seconds will give you the much-sought pole position and a 4000 point bonus. Lower grid placing means less of a bonus and a harder battle to fight your way up front.
The number of laps is optional, but if you complete the race you are given a bonus for the number of cars passed and time remaining. You start with 75 seconds and extra time is given for a successfully executed lap.
The game ends either when your time runs out or you finish the race. Needless to say, speed is always of the essence.
Graphics are similar to its arcade counterpart - you're given a driver's eye view. But they lack somewhat in detail and crispness - and according to the game, there are now four Mount Fujis!
The cars are quite convincing as you hurtle past them in excellent 3D and the way the track scrolls from side to side as you switch lanes is another nice feature. Signboards on the side of the track whizz by as you race, although they haven't anything written on them, which is rather a shame.
Colours are nicely used, and several types of cars are in evidence during the race. When you crash, your car explodes in a crescendo of flame. There are some nice tunes at the beginning of the qualifying lap, reminiscent of the arcade game, while the actual race itself and the sound of the cars as you zoom past them is quite convincing. As you accelerate through the gears the engine roars and if the car goes out of control, there are the appropriate skidding noises.
On a high lap race, the going gets rough and the other drivers have almost kamikaze tendencies. There's plenty in this to keep you going for that elusive chequered flag.
The most impressive part of the game is the crash explosion but some areas leave something to be desired. Control is rather tough, it being difficult to make fine adjustments. The car graphics are also a problem since it is difficult to tell exactly when you have cleared another car. However, the game still retains the basic addictiveness of racing games, and I'm sure most people will be satisfied with this conversion.
Although by no means stunning, this is definitely the best race game for the 64. No other has the realism of the much, yet unsuccessfully, copied ace race game. The 3D effect is excellent and cars are clearly visible far away as you speed up behind them. Control, although taking a bit of getting used to, soon becomes second nature, and within a few games you will be hurtling through hairpin bends at truly monstrous speeds. This game I would heartily recommend to anyone who enjoys living dangerously.
I may be in a minority, but I think this conversion is second-rate. The perspective view of the track is inaccurate and the cars are blocky. The sound is better, as it faithfully reproduces the tune and most of the effects of the original (but not the speech). Pole Position has been around for some time now in the arcades, and I don't think this official conversion is good enough to excite C64 owners.
Race-Track Driving Techniques
Control of the car is very tricky to a novice but is soon mastered. Don't wrench the joystick from side to side as you scream round bends: two gentle taps will send you from one lane to another. If you see a car round a bend on the inside, let yourself drift to the outside lane. If the opposite happens, then work yourself into the inside with a series of taps on the joystick.
On later stages you will often find two cars side by side. Speed up behind them and zoom along the grass verge: although you slow down you can easily overtake them, but beware of the dreaded signboards.
A nice title screen, options all at hand.
There are already road-racing games on the 64.
Fast, realistic and colourful with good 3D effect.
Instant appeal as you belt round the track.
Nice tunes and some realistic car sounds.
Always possible to improve your time and score.
Value For Money 70%
Aging idea, but still the best race game money can buy.