Pole Position


Developer GCE
Publisher GCE
Release Date 1983
Genre Action
Mode Single player only
Media Cartridge
ROM file

Pole Position is an arcade game that was released in 1982. It was ported to many consoles, including the Vectrex in 1983.


The player races their car around a course before the timer runs out. The first run is the qualifying lap, which the player starts off with 120 seconds to complete it. Depending on how well the player makes it around the lap, the better their starting position is for the next race (up to four laps total, if applicable). The player must avoid road hazards (such as puddles, which slows them down) and other cars as they drive, earning extra time for each completed lap during the second and final race. If the player collides with a hazard (such as a car), there is a brief delay before their next car appears on the track, wasting time.

For the second and final race, the player is allotted 90 seconds to finish the first lap; if they are able to do so, 60 seconds are added to the clock for each completed lap. If the player makes it through all four laps, the game will end and they will receive a bonus. Failure to complete all four laps within the allotted time will also end the game, although the player will still receive a bonus for all cars passed during the game.


  • Passing competitor's cars–50 points
  • Completing one lap–12,000 points
  • Achieving First Position (after first lap)–4,000 points
  • Achieving Second Position–2,000 points
  • Achieving Third Position–1,000 points
  • Achieving Fourth Position–500 points
  • Completing all four laps–200 points for every second remaining on the clock


Original or modded modern controllerEdit

  • Gas–buttons 3 and 4
  • First gear–button 1
  • Second gear–button 2
  • Steer–joystick or D-pad

Overdrive Paddle ControllerEdit

  • Gas–either right button
  • First gear–left black button
  • Second gear–right black button
  • Steer–wheel

Differences between versionsEdit

Most of the differences with the arcade original are cosmetic, what with the Vectrex's vector graphics (as the original arcade game was in raster, plus the Vectrex is actually capable of bitmapped graphics, but the majority of the game is in vector), along with them not having any color. There is also no voice synthesis announcing "prepare to qualify" (which the message scrolls by onscreen instead), along with it just stating "good driving", rather than voice synthesis proclaiming how they qualified after completing the original lap as on the original arcade game. The starting lights were also taken out, the signs on the side of the road were also replaced with symbols, rather than ads (see Trivia), and the amount of time was changed, along with the timer itself, as with the arcade original, the time units moved slightly faster than actual seconds. The race course for this version is also totally different from the original's, mainly consisting of very long curves, as well as removing the one precarious sign on the side of the road that players could collide with on the arcade original.


  • This is one of, if not the only GCE/Milton Bradley originally-released game to automatically start without pressing a button on the Vectrex controller when the game is initially powered up, as most games had an options screen to choose between either a game and/or number of players (most of the original games such as Mine Storm, Scramble, Berzerk, etc. would start a game within several seconds if no button on the Vectrex controller is pressed, but there is no options screen on Pole Position).
  • In the Atari arcade game release, billboards advertising various other Atari arcade games appeared on the side of the road. In the Namco releases (Namco created Pole Position while Atari distributed it in North America), the billboards advertise other Namco arcade games.
  • A 3D Pole Position for the 3D Imager was planned but ended up not being released.
  • This is one of a handful of games that is compatible with the Overdrive Paddle Controller from FURY.


  • Click on the tabbers below for reviews.


One thing that’s kind of funny is that I didn’t really discover this game until a couple of decades after release, since I’d usually just play a game of it at an arcade and walk away, as I didn’t know how to handle that one curve where the sign wiped you out. It wasn’t until I got the Retro Arcade Featuring Pac-Man plug and play unit in like 2010 or something that caused me to really get into it then once I learned how to negotiate that one blasted curve. I can now understand why this was THE top earner of the arcades the first year it was released.

This port looks really good, especially with the overlay. Mt. Fuji’s still cool, even with it being in vector (I really need to have someone else play this so I can admire the scenery better!). The controls work great and the sound effects aren’t bad as well.

However, even though you have to place and get the bonus for passing cars and all, this doesn’t seem truly like Pole Position due to the severely changed course, having many long curves. The game also doesn’t go as fast as the original and there’s no sign to plow into. It’s also a bit more difficult (and not quite as fun), as I’ve only beaten this thing once so far in playing it on and off from my flashcart for the last few weeks at the time of this writing; I’ve been able to beat the version on my Jakks unit a fair amount, but not this.

Hence, I’m giving this a 7/10, but that’s just barely a 7. Not quite Pole Position in my book. 7/10

(review by Darrylb500)

Another one of the later releases for GCE, Pole Position Vectrex style is a faithful rendition of the Namco Pole Position arcade 1982 release. Pole Position has been released on many platforms both computer and console. The Vectrex and Atari 2600 releases were both made available in 1983 while more modern conversions have featured on Dreamcast in 1999 and XBox in 2002. The Amstrad even received a Pole Position release.

Pole Position will most likely go down as the game which inspired the whole console and home computer racing format with games such as Commodore 64's Pitstop I and II and the more recent Burnout series strongly related to the original Pole Position. The games only course, the Fuji Speedway. is an actual recreation of the Japanese motor racing circuit which features the predominate Japan Mt. Fuji in the background.

24,000 Pole Position arcade units were initially produced and the Arcades were alive with the sounds of Pole Position for some time to come. This was the racing game to be playing in the early 80's and the switch over to raster from vector graphics highlighted during this period was a shock to the system for many gamers brought up on the likes of Star Castle, Rip Off, Armor Attack and colour overlays, which were the vogue.

Vectrex Pole Position was only ever released in the U.S. and the whole Vectrex community which by now had spanned from Australia to Germany missed out on the release of the Vectrex's second racing game. In my opinion Hyperchase is the better Vectrex racing game with the sensation of speed more realistic than Pole Position. Pole Position may have more detailed graphics and the added bonus of some effective explosion scenes but Hyperchase, even with it's dodgy steering technique, is the number one racer for me. Ebay auctions for a complete boxed Pole Position usually end at around $60.U.S.

Score 7/10

Review written by Daniel Foot

This article uses material from the Pole Position Gaming Wikia article and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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