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 (many 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 in North America, but they opted to take Mappyinstead. Atari ended up handling
the release 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 various home video game consoles. A
sequel, Pole Position II, was 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 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 hothead. 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 cars’ 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.