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Beat It! Pole Position [arcade]
by Robert Guerra
[Appeared in the August/September 1983 issue of "Video Games Player"]

Every so often a game comes along that sets the standard to which all
other games of its type are compared. Donkey Kong is the model for climbing
contests. Defender, the definitive horizontally-scrolling space shoot-'em-up.
With Pole Position, Atari has set another standard. One qualifying lap around
Fuji Speedway and you'll know that video races have changed forever.
As the driver of a Formula 1 racer, you are required to maneuver
around the 2.709 mile course in a breathtaking race against the clock, and
other racers. Only if you do well enough in the qualifying heat are you
allowed to participate in the actual race. How well you do on the qualifying
lap determines which of eight starting positions you will be given. Only the
very best drivers are awarded the pole position.

The Course

At the beginning of each game, you are shown a map of the course. You
begin on a long straightaway. The first turn is a fairly sharp right which
leads, almost immediately, into an easily handled left. This is followed by a
right that brings you to the most difficult turn of the course--a left
hairpin that will test even the most advanced driver's ability. Master this
turn, and you're guaranteed high scores. The final curve is a long gradual
right which deposits you back on the original straightaway.
As in real driving, there are road signs along the side of the track
which warn you of upcoming curves. Also included are billboards and a
picturesque view of the foothills of Mount Fuji. Don't get carried away with
the scenery, however. You'll need all your concentration.

Scoring

Upon successful completion of the qualifying lap, you will have
accumulated 10,000 points. If the lap is completed in less than 73 game
seconds (which click off at twice the speed of real time), you will be given
a starting position and bonus points as follows:

LAP TIME POSITION BOMUS
58.50 1 4000
60.00 2 2000
62.00 3 1400
64.00 4 1000
66.00 5 800
68.00 6 600
70.00 7 400
73.00 8 200

Each car passed during the race is good for 50 extra points. In
addition, when you reach the checkered flag you will receive 200 points for
every unused second.

The Qualifying Lap

The best way to approach the qualifying lap is to go for broke.
This means getting tne racer into high gear at the appropriate time and
keeping it there. Also, because there is less traffic during the qualifying
lap than in the actual race, you should keep the pedal to the floor throughout
almost the entire course. The one exception is that left hairpin.
When you get the green starting light, be sure the car is in low gear
and the accelerator is down as far as it will go. Keep one eye on the
speedometer and shift into high as soon as you reach the 100 mph mark.
The first turn can be tricky at close to 180 mph, but with a little
practice, you'll learn exactly how hard to cut it to minimize sliding. Since
you're not yet into traffic, approach this turn from the center of the track
and lean into it just a touch early. Straighten the car immediately as you
come onto the short straightaway which follows.
The next two curves (left, then right) can also be handled at top
speed, although you'll have to pass a number of cars to do it. To pass on the
curves, position your racer in the open lane and hold the wheel as steady as
possible as you ease past the other car. Any lane changes should be done
gradually. Remember, at 180 mph a little steering wheel movement goes a long
way.
As you come into that dangerous left hairpin, you have to reduce
speed slightly to avoid slamming into other racers. Taking this turn too fast
can also send you sliding off the track into a green "Centipede" billboard.
Either option will result in a fiery crash which, while spectacular
graphically, is not worth losing your life for.
When you see the turn approaching, ease up slightly on the gas. This
will give you enough distance from the other cars to spin the wheel hard to
the left and slide through the turn without losing too much time.
The following curve and eventual straightaway will pose no problem as
long as you pass carefully and maintain smooth control over the racer. This is
especially important when threading the needle between two cars which are
side-by-side. If there is enough room to do this (there usually is), get
directly in the center of the track and keep the wheel rock-steady as you
blow by them. If you know you won't make it, stay on their tails until
there's room to pass.
Although you will be given between 90 and 120 seconds to finish the
lap (depending on the settings the arcade owner has chosen), to qualify for
the race you need a time of 73.00 or better.

The Race

You begin in a double row of eight cars. Positions two, four, six, and
eight are lined up in the left lane, and one, three, five, and seven on the
right. Even though you may pull out ahead of this pack, you will encounter
more traffic as you proceed through the course.
During the race, other racers will frequently change lanes, so be
ready to change accordingly. As soon as you see the closest car in front of
you begin to drift into your lane, gradually move your car in the opposite
direction, into the lane he's vacating.
You will also encounter wet spots on the course this time around.
Since they don't significantly reduce your speed or interfere with the
handling of your racer, don't go out of your way to avoid them.
Unless you are starting in one of the first two positions, you will
have to weave your way to the front of the pack on the beginning straightaway.
Try to maintain top speed through as much of the course as possible. One of
thc most common mistakes people make is unnecessary down-shifting. If you must
slow down to avoid a collislon, use gour gas pedal.
The one spot where you will have to shift into low is that dangerous
left. Just before you reach it, ease up on the gas and kick it into low. Once
you're into the turn, floor it while cutting the wheel as hard as possible.
The instant you know you've made it, shift into high and head for the
finish line.

Extended Play

If you complete the first race lap in the time allotted (usually
75 seconds), 45 seconds will be added to your unused time and you may continue
to race. As you cross the start/finish line and collect the additional time,
don't slow down. If you can complete another lap, your racing time will be
extended again. You can race up to a maximum of three or four laps depending
on the machine's internal settings.

Tips From The Pit

* Hold the inside lane through as much of the course as possible.
* Don't be afraid to drive on the grass to avoid a collision.
* Always wait until your speed reaches 100 mph before shifting into
high gear.
* Finally, if you do crash, get going again as quickly as possible.
A slow start will cause you to get hit from behind.
* Go out there and blow the doors off those other guys.

Minimum Score Potential: 60,000

[Scanned and edited by Dennis Brown -- brownd@ns2.apmtech.com]


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