Codex Gamicus

Pole Position is an arcade game released in 1982. It was ported to the Atari 2600, the Atari 5200, the Intellivision, the Vectrex, and was included in the compilation CDs of Namco Museum Volume 1 for the Playstation, Namco Museum and Namco Museum 50th Anniversary for the Playstation2, Namco Museum Virtual Arcade for the Xbox 360 and several Plug and Play units, such as Retro Arcade Featuring Pac-Man. It was followed by Pole Position II. It was the first 16-bit video game ever released, utilizing two 16/32-bit Zilog Z8002 processors for the Namco Pole Position hardware.


Race your Indy car around the Fuji course before the timer runs out. The first run is the qualifying lap (which the player starts off with 120 time units in the beginning round) and your starting position is determined by your completion time. Avoid road hazards (such as precariously placed billboards on the side of the road) and other cars as you drive, earning extra time for each completed lap (50 time units added to the clock, and the amount of time at the start of the actual race goes down to 75 units.) If the player collides with a hazard, there is a delay of several seconds before their next car appears on the track, wasting time.

Differences between versions[]


There were two versions of the arcade game, which the standup version had a gas pedal and a gearshift to alternate between the high and low gears, whereas the cockpit version also included a foot brake.

Atari 2600[]

Atari 5200[]

In the arcade original (and later Retro Arcade Featuring Pac-Man Jakks unit), the player could make an extended lap if they crossed the starting line either right when the time hit zero units to maybe half a second afterwards to still qualify for the extended play. On this version though, the player's car gradually slows to a crawl if they run out of time, but if they cross the start line (even with zero time units remaining) before their car has come to a complete stop, then they will still receive an extended play and can still continue.


Obviously the most noticeable differences are cosmetic, what with the Vectrex' vector graphics (the machine is actually capable of raster graphics, but the majority of the game is in vector), having no color, and there being no voice synthesis announcing the beginning of the race either. However, the course for the Vectrex version is also totally different from the original's, mainly consisting of very long curves.

Plug and Play Units[]

One of the Plug and Play versions from Jakks Pacific has the sounds changed. For the Retro Arcade Featuring Pac-Man unit though, the sounds were restored to their original form.


  • In the Atari arcade game release, billboards advertising various other Atari arcade games appear on the side of the road. In later Namco releases, the billboards advertise other Namco arcade games.
  • Pole Position became the biggest arcade game of 1983.
  • The Retro Arcade Featuring Pac-Man Plug It In and Play unit allowed the player to steer their car by a unique joystick that would twist in place left and right.