Some of us do not care to take our lives into our hands. Or feet, for that matter. This is why we would never consider race car driving seriously as a career. Let's face it, race car drivers court death every time they get into those flimsy little cars that are so low to the ground they're practically underneath it. Never mind that you get to wear helmets and sit beneath roll bars, etc. This is a dangerous sport. One false move and you're up in flames. This is not the sort of blaze of glory we had in mind as a dramatic exit. For us cowards, there's Pole Position.
This Pole Position is good / very good but it's not all that it claims to be.
Although there are four courses, they are all the same. You're never shown an overhead view of the tracks. Playing each of them, you'll find the same billboards and curves on every one. That sham aside, the game plays and looks almost exactly like the 5200 cart, which is a stripped-down version of the arcade.
There are no oil slicks and no ads on the billboards, but otherwise the features are complete. The clouds remain, as does the blimp which signals the start of each game. Your blue-and-yellow racer, though not up to arcade graphics, is far better than the VCS version.
As in almost every other version of this racing game, you begin with a qualifying run. Based on how well you do while racing around the course, you are then assigned a position in which you will race against other drivers.
You accelerate automatically at the start of each heat. To shift into second gear, pull the joystick toward you. Tap it from side to side to steer. Your fire button is your brake. A self-centering joystick makes steering easier but requires you to hold the stick down to stay in gear. It's not the most logical controller for a driving game, but it'll do.
The allegedly different courses are the Atari Grand Prix, Namco Speedway, Malibu Grand Prix and Practice Run. Mt. Fuji must be one heckuva high mountain to be visible all the way from Malibu.
As long as the machine is on it will store your high score. Current score, time, lap and speed are also clearly displayed at the top of the screen.
The sounds are faithful to the original, from the revving engines to the honking horns.
What's known as the Centipede turn in the arcade is marked by a red billboard here. You'll know it's coming up immediately after the pink-blue-yellow-and-black billboards. To get past the hairpin, you must brake or downshift.