Daytona USA Review (PSN)
I have fond memories of playing Daytona USA as a kid in the mid-90’s. Every time I walked into a mall, boardwalk arcade or movie theater and heard the intro music theme “Let’s Go Away” (Daytonaaaaa!) it put a smile on my face, and I had to sit down and play a race or two. Right alongside the X-Men and Simpsons arcade games (with an honorable mention to The Punisher arcade), Daytona USA was one of the best quarter suckers of the arcade’s 90’s heyday. It’s even recognized as one of the highest grossing arcade games of all time.
SEGA has decided to offer fans a chance to relive that nostaligia with a PSN and Xbox Live Arcade re-release. While the game saw release on home console with a Sega Saturn version a long time ago, this new arcade-perfect version is the best way to play Daytona USA outside of going to a local arcade (Daytona USA was re-released in arcades last year as Sega Racing Classic).
Daytona USA is an arcade racing game, so logic says that it would be intentionally difficult in order to get people to throw in more quarters. Luckily, SEGA has been kind enough to throw in multiple difficulty levels and you can even set how long the timer is. In Daytona USA, you have to not only beat your opponents, you also need to beat the clock- if you miss the checkpoint by a second, even if you’re in second place, you lose. You don’t get acknowledgement for being in second place, it’s just game over. This certainly isn’t a fun situation when you’re playing in your living room, so I’m glad SEGA included these modifications.
For a game from 1993, Daytona USA looks great. I’m told that this version has received the 16:9 widescreen display and HD textures that the arcade remake from last year included. It certainly doesn’t look amazing by today’s standards, but consider that this was one of the first games ever to feature filtered, texture-mapped polygons, making it truly one of the best looking games of its time. With that said, it holds up great today given its age. I do find it a bit odd that SEGA didn’t use the visual upgrades from the Dreamcast port; while that version was criticized for its downgraded controls, I don’t see why they couldn’t take the graphics from that version and apply the arcade version’s control scheme. I suppose it could be argued that a lot of fans wanted a arcade-perfect port finally, now that we have capable hardware, but I don’t see why SEGA couldn’t have included both versions.
The gameplay is just as I remember it. In the arcades, the steering wheel would pull and vibrate when you made tight turns, and this is kind of replicated on the DualShock with small rumble feedback. This version of Daytona USA includes the ability to play with a steering wheel, but I couldn’t test it out due to lacking the hardware. The gameplay is far from a simulation a la Gran Turismo; obviously, it’s arcade-y. It’s fast paced, energetic and a lot of fun. You can now play online with 8 people per race, which is great. It’s neat to have the feeling that you’re playing the old Daytona USA arcade cabinet competitively in the arcade, while in the comfort of your home. SEGA has added a few other extras, such as time trial, challenges, a survival mode and Karaoke. Karaoke is a bit odd, it simply plays one of the game’s songs and show the lyrics while you drive. But, you get a trophy/ achievement for it, so why not?
If you had fun playing Daytona USA back in the day, I can’t see any reason not to recommend this version. If you’re a Playstation Plus member, you can get it this week for around $6.99, everyone else can nab it for $9.99 or 800 MS Points. When I consider how much money I probably spent on this game over the years in the arcades, this is a steal. And now you can practice the game at home, and school people at the arcades! Or, show off your years of experience in online multiplayer. Daytonaaa!