Pole Position II was an old arcade game released by Namco way back in 1983 (it was distributed in the United States by Atari Games, but the rest of the world got the Namco version, they were nearly identical except for a few different billboards, and a small sticker on the cabinet dashboard).

The story

This is the follow up to the smash hit Pole Position.It is essentially the same game with different levels, and altered graphics.

This title was followed up by two more sequels, they were TX-1 and TX-1 V8.

The game

This game may seem a bit familiar to you (even if you have never played it before), because it is just like the original Pole Position (and very similar to hundreds of games released later).

You begin your race by selecting one of four courses (Fuji, Test, Suzuka, and Seaside), and then doing a qualifiying run (you will succeed at this unless you are a small child, or you have never held a steering wheel before. You then get to race the real race against other cars. You view the action from the pseudo 3-D behind the car viewpoint that has become industry standard ever since the first Turbo machine came out. The only advice I can give you is to drive fast, and not hit anything (don't forget to shift into high gear after a few seconds).

The road graphics are identical to the original Pole Position, but the cars have changed a bit, and use a different color scheme.

One of the best things about this game is the billboards that are littered along the sides of the course, they advertise such things soda and Marlboro cigarettes (you would probably never see a cigarette ad in a modern day game).

The Machine

The upright version of Pole Position II came in a standard Atari cabinet (similar to the Asteroids/Lunar Lander cabinet), with an altered control panel area. The sideart consisted of red, white, blue, and grey striped paint job, with an Atari logo, and a square sticker showing a race scene.While the marquee had a Pole Position II logo superimposed over a checkerboard pattern. This is the exact same cabinet used in the original Pole Position,the only thing that was changed was the marquee, and the outlines of the courses shown on the control panel.

The control panel was done up in the same colors as the side, and featured an analog steering wheel, and a two position shifter.

There was also a cockpit version of this game. This was one completely different than the original Pole Position cockpit. It shipped in s single piece, and had a clear window in the back for observers to watch the action. It had little in the way of decoration inside, but the exterior was completely covered in detailed race car scenes that were much more attractive than those on the original Pole Position (this one gets my vote as one of the best looking cockpit cabinets ever made).

The cockpit Pole Position II cabinet had both a gas pedal and a brake pedal, while the upright cabinets had only a brake pedal. Both versions ran on three processors (2 Z8002s, and a single Z80), and used a Namco six channel PSG for audio.

You can convert this title to the original Pole Position by merely swapping the program ROMs, and changing a single IC (Bob Roberts at therealbobroberts.com can make these chips for you at a reasonable price, as can Clay Cowgill at Multigame.com, but he has a much slower turnaround time).

Where to play

There were not nearly as many ports of this game as their were with the original Pole Position, although there was a fairly good port to the Atari 7800. Luckily you can play this title using the MAME emulator, although chances are slim that you will have the proper controls to correctly play the MAME version (you will need a spinner or arcade steering wheel, a PC steering wheel will not do).

This is a good game to add to your arcade game collection, as you get all the fun of Pole Position, but usually at a cheaper price. But you should be aware that this title tends to destroy its own circuit board over time, due to a bad design that places excess heat on the PCB edge connector.

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