|Betty Ryan Tylko & Doug Macrae (GCC)
|Pole Position may have
previously been named RealSports Driving.
While it may not look like much by today's standards, Pole Position
was the one of the pioneers of the modern racing game. Pole Position
was one of the choices presented to Bally/Midway from Namco for sublicensing.
Bally/Midway chose Mappy while Atari was left with Pole Position which
then went on to become the biggest game of 1983. Naturally Atari
wanted to port Pole Position to the 2600, but a good deal of technical
challenges stood in their way.
Even though it was made in 1982, Pole Position really
isn't all that different from modern day racing games. Sure it may be
single player and the graphics may fairly primitive, but the basic concept
of weaving your race car in-between other cars still hasn't changed. Pole
Position was one of the first games to feature advertisements for other
games inside the game itself. If you look closely you'll see advertisements
for Centipede, Dig Dug, and other Namco/Atari games on the road signs
on the sides of the road. Unfortunately these ads couldn't be carried
over into the home version due to system limitations.
The first thing most people notice is that the road and
the grass are both gray. This had to be done due to the way the
2600 sets up the playfield. Making the grass a different color would
complicate things, especially since the road is at a diagonal. The
road sides were actually drawn using a ball sprite which was stretched
to simulate a rectangle, but there was a problem with this method. When
both sides of the road meet off in the distance, the ball sprite needed
to be drawn in the same place twice. To do this Doug developed a
way to reset the CPU in the middle of an instruction, and have it resume
in the middle of another (thus drawing both ball sprites in the same spot).
Unfortunately one side effect of using a ball sprite for the road
sides was that it made the sides of the road look jagged on the turns.
The next thing people notice is that the other racers are
solid beige and are totally devoid of any detail. No one is quite
sure why this is, but it may have something to do with the limitations
in the number of players the 2600 can display on the screen. Another minor issue is that the grass is gray in this version (perhaps they paved over it?). This was due to the limitations of the system, as there was no way they could changed colors with all the other complex technical things going on. Still, these are only a minor blemishes
on an otherwise amazing game.
Apparently Atari had a hard time spelling Pole Position.
Carts have been seen with the spelling "Pole Positn*",
and with the more humorous "Ploe Position". Why Atari
had such trouble is still unknown, but how they got past the quality control
department may be the biggest mystery of all.
||Pole Pos. 135-05
||Nearly complete with slightly different
||Pole Poisiton 142
||Very minor code differences
||P Position 147
to 2600 Software