WILL YOU WANT TO PLAY THIS FOR 24 HOURS?
The 24 hour WEC Le Mans race is one of the toughest in motor racing. Konami attempted to give the thrills, without 24 hour play, in an impressive hydraulic cabinet which just lost out to Out Run. A year after the disappointing Out Run conversion, Imagine hope the arcade runner-up will beat the arcade champion on the Spectrum...
As with the arcade machine, the number of laps seems drastically reduced - just four. Getting you there in style is a turbocharged engine with high and low gears - press fire to change up or down. Forward on the joystick accelerates, backwards applies the brakes vital for tight, hairpin bends and edging past competitor cars.
Each lap is divided into three checkpoints and you start with Just 66 seconds to reach the first checkpoint. If you reach it with lots of time in hand, your time limit for the next checkpoint is increased. Fail to reach it and you're out of the race. If you crash along the way the timer kindly stops until you're moved back onto the road, but getting back up to speed takes time you can't afford to lose.
Another tough race game, but much older, is Full Throttle. Despite that game's simple visual charms, WEC Le Mans beats it hands down for looks, with well-defined graphics whizzing past at great speed and - unlike Enduro Racer- no confusing overlaps. Also like Full Throttle it remembers the competitor cars, so you can catch up with those two drivers who caused you to crash. But otherwise this is far inferior. For a start there's only one track which little resembles the map layout, then there's dodgy collision detection and only one (far too tough) skill level, severely limiting lastability. WEC Le Mans is great fun to play for a while, but I suspect it will soon end up gathering dust.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: smooth-scrolling track but general lack of variety in appearance
Sound: adequate 128K title tune, but poorish ingame engine noises
Options: definable keys
'I don't think I've got any relatives called Jonathon (Dunn), so I can safely say his title tune is pretty dull, while ingame FX are almost nonexistent. Sadly, WEC Le Mans has got nothing I haven't seen before; the hills are very effective, but so were Enduro Racers and that's got much more content. The colour clash on the sides of the road is pretty unpleasant, and as for the collision detection-well! I counted four slip-ups (ie, straight up someone else's exhaust pipe!) in one go, and my games aren't remarkably long, believe me! Nine pounds could buy' a lot more.'
MIKE ... 59%
'The inlay calls it the most gruelling and challenging car race in the world and I definitely agree; I was sure my wrist was going to snap on some of those corners, and completing each sector is really demanding. WEC Le Mans gives you a fast, roller coaster ride around a very plain track with just a few spark plug advertisements to cheer it up. But even though the variety is lacking, I kept coming back for more (psycho?). On the negative side, sound is surprisingly poor and as the race is supposed to be 24 hours long you would have would get darker - like in the arcade game - but the Spectrum programmers seem to have overlooked this (at least in the first 3 laps). WEC Le Mans has nothing particularly outstanding about it, but it's a great way to let off steam.'
NICK … 69%
Eeeeeeeeoooooooowwwwwwwwwww!!! Could this be the best car racing game yet? Matt Bielby gets his crankshaft (fnar) in gear to find out.
It's not much fun being a Le Mans 24 hour racing driver. First you get strapped to the front of a giant petrol tank containing a trillion gallons of highly dangerous fluid. Eeek! That's enough to put most people off for a start.
Then they send you off around a twisty, turny, treacherous track at 200 miles an hour, with 30 or more totally mad people to join you. And that's not the worst!
The worst is that they make you do it for 24 (24!!) hours non stop (well, actually, that's a bit of a lie) and feed you full of coffee to keep you awake. All very well, but what they haven't thought of is providing any way to, erm, 'do your business,' without stopping and losing the race. Ouch! Maybe a full bladder is an added incentive to winning and getting first in the queue to the little drivers room.
But in Ocean's new game WEC Le Mans you can stop playing at your convenience to use the, er, convenience. And there are so many other good things about WEC Le Mans I don't know where to start.
This is possibly the best Speccy race game we've seen since Enduro Racer, knocking OutRun and the rest into the pits. Indeed, though the graphics and animation are perhaps not quite up to Enduro standard, WEC Le Mans manages to remember where the other cars are meant to be in relation to you rather better, so it's a real race against other cars instead of just the clock.
WEC Le Mans has lovely large car sprites, a challengingly curvey track and a smooth set of acceleration/braking/gear change controls. However, there are no surprises at all in the gameplay: bonus points and extra time are given if you manage to make each successive time checkpoint and you spin off if you hit the trees, barriers or other cars.
This total lack of anything unexpected is perhaps the game's weakest feature. For example: the game is based on the one famous race course so each lap is exactly the same as the last, which may help it become a good simulation of the repetitiveness of an actual race but is not exactly a selling point.
Get far enough and the course switches to night for a bit, where it all gets a bit more difficult 'cos you can't see a thing except headlights!!
So, a rather fine racing game that works exactly as it's meant to but is very hard to write much about because it's so simple. With two of the best racing games (Enduro Racer and Super Hang On) being about bikes, WEC perhaps gets 'best car race' by default. We're impressed with it - but we wouldn't buy the company. (Oh I don't know! Ed)
Aha! This is the driving game that's my barg of the month, if not the year. Like most coin-ops, it's simpler than Simple Simon's simple brother - just complete 4 laps of a course without running out of time between the checkpoints. But, it's the kind of game that once loaded is harder to get off your Speccy than fluff stuck under the ENTER key! Unusually for the Ocean conglomerate, the 128K sound is rather (hem hem) 'dubious', though the graphics are top-notch. The road has more twists and dips than a '50's dance craze! The other cars progress from puttering L-plate drivers to speed maniacs who hog the inside lane of vicious curves before ganging up to box you in! The clock never reaches zero unless the checkpoint is just too far away, and the playability leaps so far off the top of the scale that you could give it a brush and get it to paint the ceiling! My only quibblette is that, no matter how slow you're going, whenever you hit something you skid to a complete halt. WEC regains some brownie points by politely stopping the clock as it scrolls you back onto the road.
What else can I say? It's better than Chase HQ. (Blimey! A complete barg - and some controversy thrown in for free. Service or what?!)
Don't get put off by the horribly boxy graphics - beneath 'em there's a formidably playable racer struggling to get out. Simply a case of driving around a set of courses very quickly, WEC scores over the opposition with some commendably generous time limits. Um, that's it really. A doozy!
The next 16 bit owner to walk up to me and say that the Spectrum is a dying machine, I'm going to kick his teeth in or I'll do the next best thing, I'll grab him by the lapels and drag him over to a Speccy, and then put on WEC Le Mans, the latest in a long line of racing conversions. Up until now, I always thought of Super Hang On as the ultimate in Spectrum racing. Le Mans looks at SHO, says "I can do that," makes the graphic bigger, moves more items around, does it faster, makes the tea, puts the kids to sleep and then takes you out for a meal afterwards. Now that's what I call programming.
The WEC Le Mans race itself is a 24 hr continuous race around some racetrack somewhere or other (probably Le Mans - GT).
You start under starters orders in the front of the grid. It's right from this point that you notice the acute resemblance to the coin-op's graphics. It's when the whole caboodle starts moving that the game really starts to impress.
The amount of things moving about on screen at once is probably one of the most impressive feats of programming since the rainbow processor. Either side of the road is filled with a series of light and dark bands. These scroll towards you very smoothly. The horizon lifts and falls as you climb and descend the hills. There are dozens of objects lining either side of the road at once, signs, adverts etc, as well as anything to half a dozen opposing cars on screen as well. What's more, it all moves faster than Super Hang On.
The game has a memory for the opposing cars, which makes the game that tad more realistic. What I mean is, that the computer remembers where all the cars are at any time. If you should pass three cars, and then slow down, three cars will overtake you. Similarly should two cars appear on the horizon. Stop for a few seconds, accelerate into top speed and, sure enough, after a couple of seconds, those same two cars will make an appearance.
It plays similarly to the coin-op, and is about as difficult as well. The steering wheel of the original has been replaced by a progressive steering system whereby the longer you hold the joystick in the required direction, the more obtuse your turning angle.
Sound is fairly restricted, unfortunately. The same boppy tune appears on both 48 and 128 version, but the 128 is the only machine with in-game effects, which consist of nothing more than a loud farting noise.
Ocean prove yet again that they are THE software house for 89. Roll on Chase HQ.
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
OK, you don't actually spin around on your seat as you're playing it, as you do in the original coin-op, but WEC LeMans on the Spectrum captures most of the thrills of the original, so much so that on first release we at SU described it as "absolutely brilliant", an accolade we don't use carelessly.
Using the fire button or space bar to change from high to low gear, you whizz around corners and along straights through four laps, each consisting of three stages. The track curves and humps realistically, and steering is more responsive than a romantic rabbit.
Though the car and background graphics aren't astonishing, the animation's pretty good, and the all-important sense of speed and control is satisfying. Spins and skids are handled realistically, and it's a real challenge to complete each lap in front.
Perhaps no longer the best car racing game - there are so many competitors it's hard to pick a best - but Wec Le Man still qualifies in the front row.
Label: Hit Squad
Price: £2.99 48/128K
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Ocean shift into top gear.
Outrun may well have been a tremendous success as far as sales went, but we here at ACE, and judging by the amount of mail we received, a good few of you too, were disappointed with the 8-bit versions of that Sega classic. The car moved unconvincingly, was slow and handled appallingly. So can Ocean make a better job of converting another classic car driving coin-op?
The action is viewed from just behind and slightly above the car, and the object of the game is to compete against a number of other cars around a circuit. There are three checkpoints on the course, so to stay in the running the player must reach each checkpoint within a time limit. Make it, and some extra time is added to help you reach the next checkpoint. Once the lap is finished you start all over again until you've completed four laps of the track.
The controls are simple enough, just accelerate, brake, left and right. What's not so simple, of course, is avoiding roadside obstacles and other racing cars. When you get to know the course and where the straights and bends are, staying on the road becomes less of a problem - or would do if the amount of traffic didn't increase as you progressed, making it more and more common to find yourself weaving between bunches of up to four cars.
It's good to see that not all of the computer-controlled cars are expert drivers - indeed one of the major hazards (especially later in the game) is avoiding computer cars that have collided with each other and gone spinning off. Crashing into any of the cars sends you tumbling end over end, losing precious time while you restart and build up speed again.
What Out Run didn't have, and what really makes a coin-op conversion like this playable and addictive, is realistic handling from the car and an impression of speed. Ocean have got both just right, and though there may not be much depth to the game, it remains extremely playable and you're likely to be coming back to it for months.
Reviewer: Andy Smith
Atari ST, Price TBA , Imminent
Amiga, Price TBA , Imminent
SPEC 128 £9.95cs. £14.95dk, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.95cs. £14.95dk, Out Now
C64/128, £9.95cs. £14.95dk, Imminent
IBM PC, To be decided
Predicted Interest Curve
1 min: 75/100
1 hour: 80/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 60/100
1 month: 45/100
1 year: 20/100
PRICES: Spectrum/C64/Ams £9.95 cassette/£14.95 disk, ST £19.95, Amiga £24.95
The summer of '87 brought something of a revival for driving games in British arcades. The most popular of them all was the immensely successful Out Run, and following close behind was Wec Le Mans, with its unusual rotating cockpit giving new meaning to the term "going for a spin".
Unsurprisingly for a game called Wec Le Mans, you, the hapless player are strapped in a car on the starting grid of the 24 hour Le Mans road race. Your auto is ably kitted out with an accelerator (always handy if you want to go really fast), a brake (always handy if you're already going really fast), a speedometer (so you know whether or not you're going really fast), and low and high gear shift (to get you from fast to really fast and back again). Controlling the game via joystick or keyboard is very satisfactory, because the longer you hold the steering, the greater the lock put on the steering wheel, as a gauge at the bottom of the screen shows.
The track runs between three checkpoints, and you have to beat the clock to the next one or retire to the pits in disgrace. Seeking to foil your speedy ambitions are a host of other cars which dodge and weave across the track, crashing into one another, bursting into flames and generally making the going difficult for safe drivers like you.
To make a twisty, turny, bumpy track even more dangerous, signboards, lamp posts and other trackside obstacles lie in wait for the reckless driver, who tries to skid his way through corners at top speed, instead of braking. Unfortunately, breaking is exactly what your car does after a crash has hurled it twenty feet into the air and fifty yards down the track - a sure-fire way to lose time and the race. As the race progresses the track becomes more and more crowded with backmarkers, who like nothing better than crashing into each other and taking you with them as they career off the road.
And that's it really, just what you'd expect from a motor racing simulation, oh, except to say that this one is really good. The track graphics are a teensy bit jerky, but the 3D effect they create is fast and convincing enough, and the car sprites follow the dips and curves in the road perfectly. Apart from the bouncy tunes and jingles the game sounds are limited to the tinny buzz of the engine, which grows irritating as the race goes on, but serves its purpose of indicating when to change up a gear.
Gameplay is as fast as you could hope, and challenging too. After a day's concerted effort I was on the brink of getting onto the third lap but after that the number of the cars on the track and the incredibly tight time limit proved impossible to beat.
Being unable to beat the game is no reason for me to bear it a grudge, though. Indeed, this is one of the most elegant race games I've seen on any computer lately, and it's certainly the best I've played on the Amstrad.
The Spectrum version is of similar high quality and the game doesn't seem to lack anything in spite of the machine's graphical and audio shortcomings. Strange, isn't it, how well driving games translate to the old Speccy?
On these two machInes at least, this has to be one of the best arcade conversions going. Test drive it today.
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £14.95
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £14.95
DULL DRIVING FROM IMAGINE
Despite wilder hydraulics than Sega's Out Run and being a technically and graphically better game, Konami's 1986 arcade release WEC Le Mans flopped in the arcades. Punters wanted to race Out Run's sexy Testarossas, not mess about with humdrum Porsches. Kicking off with 8-bit versions, Imagine now try and redress the balance in the home.
The French race upon which this games is based is an all-day-all-night affair, but on the computer you're only expected to compete with other drivers against an allotted time limit around four laps with three checkpoints per lap. Running into the other, often devious, drivers can see your car spinning off the track of flipping end over end, and it's in the extravagance of the graphics that the coin-op can often disguise shallow gameplay. Needless to say, the 8-bit conversions suffer in comparison to the original, and WEC Le Mans fails, ironically, through remaining too faithful to the coin-op.
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