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Home Midway Ms. Pac-Man (1981) Midway Pac-Man (1980)
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last updated May 23, 2009 10:41 PM

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Pole Position

Atari Pole Postion (1982)

Prepare to Qualify!

Another Namco classic!


In 1982, Atari releases another award winning arcade classic!  This time, instead of Midway licensing this gem, Atari steps up to the plate and releases the top game of the year.  In fact, Midway really got their wires crossed this time!  When offered a choice between Mappy (remember the little mouse running around the house bouncing off of trampoline-type thingies to get to different floors?), and our topic of conversation, Pole Position from Namco, they chose Mappy, leaving Pole Position up for grabs!  As I mentioned, Pole Position went on to become game of the year that year.  We shouldn't feel too bad for Midway though, as they were still raking in the bucks for their license of all the Pac-Man series of games.  One thing was for sure.  Arcade racing would never be the same!  They'd come along way since Gran Trak 10 and Night Driver!

Oh, by the way, this was one of the first speaking games.  You couldn't always tell what the voice was saying, but one phrase was distinctly recognizable. It's on the banner behind the blimp below...

I have to admit, although I put more than a couple of quarters into Pole Position machines in the early 80's, I never thought of it as one of my favourites.  However, now that I've got one in my home, I have really started to realize the greatness of this game!  I especially like the cockpit cabinet and the awesome artwork that's on it!  It looks absolutely great in the 'games room'.  It's no where near as overpowering as I thought it would be due to its size.  The kids love it too, but mostly for a playroom!  One trick we've learned is that if you hold the gas pedal down when you turn the machine on, then let it go, there is acceleration without touching the gas pedal.  This is great for the kids since they can't reach the pedals at all.  I am surprised at how good they are at steering around other cars and stuff at there age!  It's like driving is a natural thing or something!  I have to tell them to shift once in awhile since they often forget and leave it in low gear, but oh well, they'll get the hang of it.

Oh, by the way, I HATE THAT CORNER BY THE SECOND CENTIPEDE BILLBOARD (the hairpin one right by the 4.359km on this map)!!!  My strategy is to take my foot off the gas just before it and spin the wheel as hard as I can.  Some of the other strategies my friends use is to shift down momentarily as they approach the corner to slow them down fast.  For the real brave ones, you can forget about slowing down and just spin the wheel as hard as you can, but you are most likely to plough the back of another car as you go around the corner.  I've never seen anyone successfully finish more than a lap or two using this stategy.

I've got the flyer for this one.

Here are the ROMs2

Pinouts and switch settings coming soon

Here's a reasonable representation of what my machine looks like from the back...

Acquired:  February 2000

  When I went to ship my Ms. Pac-Man machine to Chicago, I had it professionally crated at Cratex here in Calgary.  As usual, everyone was curious about my machines, how I find them, etc.  While I was talking to about 5 guys there, one says to the other, "We should show him that racing thing we have upstairs."  I asked what they were talking about and was told that they had some kind of "race car" thing in storage above there warehouse.  It used to work, but now when they plug it in they hear the fan come on but no sound our picture.  I asked if I could have a look at it, still not really having much of a clue as to what it was they were talking about.  Because they waited so long in the conversation to mention it, and they really didn't seem overly sure it qualified as what I was interested in, I really didn't think it was going to amount to much.  

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was  a Pole Position!  At first glance,  it was dusty, had no glass in the back window and was surrounded by other big equipment.  The coin door was locked with no key and there was no way to have a look in the back of it.  I made them an offer and they said they'd talk to the owner and get back to me.  They had received it some years ago from a Chucky Cheese that had closed down.  They said they also had a bunch of kiddy ride stuff in storage in a semi trailer somewhere.

  I didn't here from them for two months (that was in late December 1999) and so decided to phone.  After some negotiations over the phone, I was told to come pick it up!  I got it at a reasonable price since it wasn't working.  I told them if it turned out to be a really easy fix, like a loose wire or something,  I'd give them a little more, especially if I sold it for a good profit.  I also warned them I may not want to sell it at all.  They were okay with that deal. 

After getting it out of the warehouse, I was surprised at the excellent shape that the cabinet was in.  I was still pretty apprehensive since they said it didn't work though.    Turns out the monitor was disconnected.  Every wire that went to the monitor, including the big suction cup thing on the tube was disconnected.  It took me awhile to find where they all reattached.  After getting them back on the way I thought they should go, I fired it up.  It worked...for about 5 minutes, then it started to smoke out the back.  The power supply was burning up!  After replacing some parts, I got it working again.  I guess it's a fine line between what is a difficult fix and what isn't.  I haven't returned to give them more money because I feel it was definitely a harder fix than a loose wire, especially since I had to replace parts.  I suppose if I ever sell it though, I'll kick some money Cratex's way.

(Note Atari's use of free advertising for other games!  In Pole Position II, they even got sponsors to post ads on the billboards!)

Things I would like for this machine...
PCB for Pole Position II!
Plexiglass for back window.
maybe a marquee from an upright 

The Lawley High Scores


Name Time Score
Cliff   56,690
Tana   18,260
Denin   33,970
Dec 16 2001
fastest race


fastest lap 56.35''

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