Le Mans 24 is an arcade game produced by Sega in 1997/1998. Despite its production at that year itself, arcade machines portraying this game are still scattered around in some arcades today. The game is popular for being the earliest of games to have a full pit-stop service when issued, provides a somewhat feel of a 24-hour race (while other arcade games usually launch races within the day, evening or night, Le Mans 24 Hours is the only arcade game that lets you play real-time) and not to mention, changes in weather during gameplay. Players can choose up to six cars, all which have been pulled out from the actual 24 Hours of Le Mans races (due to the latest cars that are fast in nature and the evolution of much dynamic and faster prototypes, cars like these have actually no chance of entering Le Mans today) but still exists in other races today.
The game featured six cars: Grand Tourers Nismo GT-R LM (1995-1996), Ferrari F40 GTE (1996, returning from Scud Race, albeit in different livery), McLaren F1 (1996, again returning from Scud Race), Porsche 911 GT1, the former two having better traction while the latter two balances grip and speed; and the Group C machines Sauber C9 (1989) and Mazda 787B (1991). Porsche 917K (the game's True Final Boss) and Sonic the Hedgehog (in a buggy car) also makes apperances as secret racers.
Although the game focuses on the famed track, Circuit de la Sarthe (albeit scaled down), the game lets you choose other tracks. The Endurance mode lets you take the pavement of Circuit de la Sarthe along with the 24-Hour race format. The sprint modes lets you take either the Circuit de la Sarthe or a fictional city course along with a couple of laps against others.
Despite having classes in the actual race, however, the game has absolutely no classification whatsoever. Players choose their car of choice and proceed to play their best in order to achieve podium finish. As the game progresses, weather changes and traction can deteriorate over time, which requires players to pit when prompted. Also, time can be awarded if:
- The player overtakes a car. 8 (3 for lapped cars)note seconds will be awarded per car overtake. However, any car that overtakes the player sucks away 8 (3) seconds from the time limit per car that overtakes the player.
- The player last for 6 hours in-game. The player will be awarded 12 seconds per 6 "hours" they last in-game. The player can receive a total of 36 seconds after 18 "hours" in-game.
- The player completes a full lap. Completing a full lap grants the player an extra 30 seconds in the time limit.
Not to be confused with the actual 24 Hours of Le Mans race, which the game is based on.
This game provides examples of:
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Somehow, during rain, the NPCs are never affected by the rain. Only the player suffers from loss of traction during rain season. Also, NPCs always makes the perfect drifts when cornering and they seem to keep their speed in uniform even when cornering tight corners. What makes this trope more solid for this game is that they don't even seem to get slower every time they crash, either by colliding towards the wall or with a downed NPC. If the player crashes, it'll cost precious seconds being wasted from the time limit.
- Boss Dissonance: The boss car isn't that hard to battle with. You either overtake it during the straights or when it slows down in the last 4 turns before the finish line. Unless you crash through the bumper. Then good luck getting first place in a 2 second gap between the car to the finish line.
- Cool Car: All the cars still look cool today (though the Sauber C9 looked no different that the Mazda 787B, but still - it should be noted that both are Group C race cars)
- Easter Egg: A large, gigantic Michelin mascot is seen flying in the sky if you drive one of the straights in reverse. Also, if cars count as easter eggs, the Porsche 917K can only be seen after you complete the race or entering commands. And you can race as a Sonic the Hedgehog in a small dune buggy car, too!
- Game-Breaking Bug: The amount of time added (and removed) for passing cars is actually one second less than what is displayed on screen. This turns the time limits from difficult to essentially impossible except on the easiest settings.
- Nintendo Hard: Using the beginner cars (GT-R and F40) will give a slim chance of getting in the Top 5, much less Top 3 (unless you play the city sprint course). Using cars like the McLaren F1 GTR LM or the Porsche 911 GT1 yields the same results. Your only chance to take the podium finish is to use prototypes like the Sauber C9 Mercedes or the Mazda 787B or the Porsche 917K but the handling will pose a challenge to new players, especially during rain or when the tires start to lose traction. Or both. And it doesn't help that the Group C cars tend to lose traction much faster than other classes. Also, some NPCs you overtake either remained overtaken or will chase you in order to overtake you back. And the way they overtake is definitely ruthless, even for an NPC.
- Secret Car: The Porsche 917K and the Sonic buggy, as well as alternative liveries of the original cars (such as the white Mazda 787B or the yellow/blue Ferrari F40).
- Spiritual Successor: To Scud Race aka Sega Super GT.
- True Final Boss: If you finished the endurance race, a bonus race took place, and it's pitting your car against a Porsche 917K. Well, played with Mirror Boss if you use Porsche 917K after entering commands.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you fail to continue the race after your time limit reaches zero (no matter what position you are in the race), you will be graded an 'E' regardless. If you place anywhere below 3rd, you will be graded a 'D' overall (which kinda sucks knowing how hard it is to complete the game without losing so much of a token). And if the NPC in front of you burns out completely and you overtake it, your position still remains in the same number. And every NPC that overtakes the player sucks away four or nine seconds from the time limit unless the player overtakes again.