Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
Position was a racing video game designed by Toru Iwatani
The game allowed players to drive a Formula One race car around the Fuji Speedway
in Japan, making it the first game to include an actual existing track. It was also
the first to feature an introductory time trial qualifying lap before the
actual race to determine if the player would continue on or not. The game was one
of the earliest examples of product placement in video games as billboards for
real products were included along the track (some were region-specific being
that some of the featured advertisers were inappropriate for a game meant for
children). Players raced against seven other CPU-controlled cars, attempting to
take first place while avoiding crashing and exploding.
The game was released in July 1982
in Japan. Later that year, Namco offered Bally/Midway
the chance to publish the game for North America, but they opted to take Mappyinstead. Atari instead released Pole Position that November. By 1983,
the game had become the highest-grossing arcade game that year; selling over
21,000 machines with average earnings of $450 a week per machine. The game
established many of the conventions for the racing genre in the years to come
as well as inspired numerous imitators. Atari expanded on its success by porting
it to many of the home video game consoles. A sequel, Pole
quickly released in 1983 with improved graphics and three additional tracks.
The Darrett family with Kuma, Wheels and Roadie.
Looking to capitalize on the success
of the arcade game, DiC Entertainment
licensed the name from Namco and had Jean Chalopin
Reaves developed a series around the concept. However, the
resulting show had little to do with the game outside of racing and seemed more
of a clone of Knight Rider. The series
centered around the Pole Position Stunt Show, which was a front for a
government-sponsored clandestine investigative team. The group was led by Dr.
Zachary Darrett (Jack Angel), a wheelchair bound engineer who became the
caretaker of his brother’s children after he and his wife were killed in a
traffic accident. The eldest, Tess (Lisa Lindgren), was the de facto field
leader of the Pole Position team while her partner and brother, Dan (David
Coburn), was more of a reckless hot head. They also had a younger sister, Daisy
(Kathleen Kiff), and a genetically created pet named Kuma (Marilyn Schreffler)
who resembled a racoon mixed with a monkey. The Darrett children were
effectively carrying on with their parents’ work, as they, too, were part of
the Pole Position team. The characters were designed by Jesse Santos.
Tess and Dan drove two very special
cars. Designed by Zach, the cars featured extremely advanced artificial
intelligence computer systems and numerous gadgets. Tess’ car was Wheels
(Melvin Franklin), which resembled a 1965 Ford Mustang, and was the most
cautious of the two cars. Dan’s car was Roadie (Darryl Hickman), a
futuristic-looking car, who was very smart and often tried to keep Dan out of
trouble. Both car’s AIs appeared as digital faces on removable modules located
on the dashboards that could be carried around. The cars were designed for the
show by Eric
Heschong. To mimic the game, chase sequences would often take
on a first-person perspective.