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]