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.
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.
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.
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.
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 -- firstname.lastname@example.org]