Pole Position II
As a port of the arcade classic, Pole Position II succeeds wonderfully. Think twice if you never played the original, however.
It's an interesting commentary on the state of the mobile videogame industry that I enjoyed Pole Position II much more than Namco's brand-new, 3D Ridge Racer. Technology does not a good game make. It's still possible to see why Pole Position II was such a hit back in 1983, despite all the advances the genre has made since.
The sequel features four tracks, ranging from a simple oval to Wonder, a couse full of technical hairpin twists and turns. Namco included multiple difficulty settings as well, ranging from practice up to the original arcade difficulty.
Even with the gas and shifting switched to manual, controlling the game with one hand was no problem. On the default setting gas was centered with the brake and shifter located below and above it, respectively. Steering left or right was handled by the button on either side. Other control options are available, for those who prefer using both hands.
I found Pole Position II to still be a worthwhile racing experience despite the 20+ years that have gone by since its debut, thanks in large part to a desire to beat my high scores. As you make your way around the track, in either the initial qualifying lap or the race itself, a score ticker slowly but steadily climbs. At the end of the race that score is added to bonus points achieved by passing other racers and other actions. Your top ten scores for each track are stored.
It's amazing what a simple hi-score table can do for a game's replay ability. The graphics might be blocky and the gameplay a little loose (by today's standards), but the experience was fundamentally sound enough to keep me coming back to improve my high score table.
Pole Position II's value to mobile gamers who never played the original is admittedly somewhat limited. There are better classic titles available for download to kill a few minutes here and there. Still, the port is a good one and the game runs smooth. Gamers old enough to remember when Pole Position II was the hot new game in the arcade will be happy with this mobile translation.
What's Hot: Excellent port of the arcade classic
What's Not: Gameplay is somewhat quaint by today's standards