Pole Position, Pole Position 2, Final Lap – 1981, 1982, 1988
If we didn’t start with Pole Position, this wouldn’t be a legitimate list. So many firsts, so much inspiration. This game set the tone for pretty well every F1 circuit racing game to come and so many beyond. Of course, coming in 1982, it should come as no surprise that this was an arcade game, running first on the Namco arcade game board. It grew to be the most popular coin-operated arcade game of 1983 and the highest-grossing arcade game in North America.
The game itself? A third-person F1 racer, not unlike what we have today, only with graphics and gameplay befitting the period. It was however the first to feature a qualifying lap, the first to feature a track based on a real circuit, in this case Fuji Speedway, and was also the first to introduce checkpoints. The success of Pole Position cemented the groundwork it laid, putting the onus on the racer and the quality of racing to do well.
Pole Position 2 in 1983 was a minor update, adding extra track interpretations, including Indy, Long Beach and Suzuka. It also introduced new colour schemes and better crash detailing.
Final Lap, the long-awaited 1988 sequel, was a revolution again, allowing up to eight players at once to race at Suzuka with multiple cars from the 1987 season. Yes, this was the father of multiplayer racing. We suppose you could say it’s also, therefore, father of all modern day racing eSports.
If you love F1 games, read our list of the 10 best F1 games of all time.