WEC Le Mans 24 (Konami, 1986)


WEC Le Mans 24 was released in 1986 and is based on the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race and features a representation of the Circuit de la Sarthe as it was in the mid-1980s. It’s interesting to note that at the time this game was touted by its marketing material as a “driving simulator”, really highlighting how getting hung up over the distinction between “simulators” and “games” isn’t really worth expending any mental energy over.

The game takes place over 4 laps of the circuit and has the usual checkpoint based timing system. Each lap takes place at a different time of day and as the game progresses the level of AI traffic increases and they begin to move around the track and get in your way more and more. By the 4th lap things get pretty tricky and I must confess that after about 2 weeks of playing it every day I actually can’t quite beat it. There is absolutely no margin for error in this game, even less than most racers of its type. Even the slightest contact with another car will spin you out completely and that pretty much spells the end of your run.

WEC Le Mans was a contemporary of Sega’s Outrun and some reviewers of the time were actually split over which was the better game. In hindsight I’d have to give the award to Outrun but WEC Le Mans is still very well put together game and would have been all the more impressive when played in its rotating deluxe sit-down cabinet (pictured in the flyer below). Sitting at my desk maybe doesn’t give me the full experience that gamers of the time had but I still enjoyed myself playing it. The graphics are quite simple, there is a lot less on the screen than you would see in Outrun but everything is very big and clear and the sprite scaling is effective. The soundtrack is also quite good too.

Despite the difficulty I’ve been having finishing it off, I’ve actually enjoyed playing WEC Le Mans 24. I’ll keep playing it in the background and when I eventually manage to defeat it I’ll post a score and probably a video.



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