The Game: Prepare to qualify! Fly to the finish line in a fierce field of Formula One competitors in a qualifying lap. Leaving the track is trouble – and hitting one of the billboards dotted around the edges of the Mt. Fuji track is a sure way to miss out on the subsequent race. (INTV Corp., 1987)
Memories: Pole Position has suffered a few indignities before; an arcade game that was a huge evolution for first-person racing and boasted stellar graphics is bound to hit a few speed bumps on the drive home. But the Intellivision version of Pole Position is a gigantic pothole that’s likely to relieve most players of their drive to recreate the arcade experience.
Struggling to keep the Intellivision user base happy after the fall and rise of the video game industry, several former Mattel Electronics employees – many of whom were known collectively as the Blue Sky Rangers – regrouped after the bottom fell out at Mattel and formed INTV Corp., selling new Intellivision games by mail order to the system’s faithful fans. Previously licensed to Atari as a package deal with the arcade distribution rights in the U.S., Namco’s Dig Dug and Pole Position were once again available, and INTV Corp. snatched up Atari’s lapsed licenses.
Sadly, in the case of Pole Position, you can just about feel the gears stripping as the first-person racer comes home. There’s always a little question of control with the Intellivision disc controllers, but this is a rare case where that control mechanism turns a game into an unplayable mess. Collision avoidance is difficult, to put it mildly. So is staying on the road, for that matter – get ready to kiss a lot of billboards.
Sadly, despite the fact that Intellivision has the ability to make the game look better than it did on the Atari 2600, this may well be the worst-playing version of Pole Position out there; if it doesn’t come in dead last, it’s gotta be close.