Voice Module

Reviews

Previews

Features

Classic

Archive

Contact

Gallery


In Memory
Sean Pettibone

 

 

 

      

 

 

 

 

After half-a-decade away from consoles, Segaís legendary Daytona USA has returned on the Dreamcast Ė smoother, faster, harder and better in almost all respects. While this is more like a reissue of the original title than a true sequel, it makes up for it by adding new tracks and online play. Daytona USA is a shining light in the darkness once again, and is the definition of a Ďmust-buyí game. Its high-quality goes a long way towards proving once again Segaís dominance in the genre while providing some much-needed solace for unhappy DC owners in light of recent unfortunate events. Read our review to find out all about this outstanding game.

Some of electronic gamingís best memories are of Segaís legendary arcade racers, specifically Daytona USA on the Saturn, despite itís flaws, this was one of the best driving games ever made on a home console. Its intense arcade-style gameplay and goofy music left an indelible impression on players. While it wasnít the most realistic racing game ever made, it was easily one of the most fun.  While Daytona USA and its remix Daytona:CCE werenít good enough to save the console, it still stands as one of the best arcade to home translations ever made, accurately reproducing AM3 (now Amusement Visionís) unbeatable racer. The Dreamcast version has finally arrived (courtesy ofÖ. Hasbro?)  and thankfully looks and plays very similar to the original edition, but the most noticeable change is in the graphics that have been cleaned up substantially and the game moves much, much faster this time around, giving an added boost to what was already some of the intense arcade racing ever.  Anyone who saw the Saturn edition should be thrilled that the pop-in that plagued the original is history, replaced by a smooth looking, speedy game with a silky frame rate, moving at a convincing and consistent 60FPS throughout. This is the first thing youíll notice, since this version smokes the previous versions, moving much faster than he previous versions without the graininess. Itís fantastic the first time you see the famous Rolling Start Ė incredible. This makes the game much more intense and while the visuals arenít state of the art, they more than adequately reflect the arcade game, in some instances improving on the textures and reflections. Whatís even more impressive are the car models, which look solid and feature tons of beautiful reflections, itís an excellent conversion that looks really good overall. One thing that I didnít really like about the game was the color selection, the game looks a bit too bright and the candy colored exteriors and environments donít have the grit that Sega fans of come to expect, somewhat like what a N64 version of Daytona would look like. Daytona USA on the Dreamcast is a tad different than what youíd expect and takes some getting used to. The brightness isnít a major flaw per se, just a surprising approach and something that youíd need have played the Saturn editions extensively in order to notice. The graphics are pretty decent but Itís also good to see that Sega hasnít messed up the gameís music, since the goofy singing and upbeat songs are some of the most memorable in electronic gaming. This version has the same music as previous games, though it has been remixed a bit here and there to give it a brighter feel. Some dislike the happy J-Pop soundtrack, but for me it just wouldnít be Daytona without it. The announcer also seems to have lost his southern accent, which also gives this version of Daytona a different feel than it predecessors without losing the essence of the soundtrackís appeal.

The DC version stays faithful to the original game with the familiar tracks and the Hornet making return appearances. Daytona includes 8 tracks in all, all the courses from the original game, plus two from the Championship Circuit edition and also 3 original courses exclusive to this edition. All of the courses are exactly as you remember them as far as layout is concerned, though the upgrade in their visuals can be a little disconcerting though itís nice to see what some of the indecipherable roadside objects actually were after all these years. The new tracks fit in well with the others, giving some new tracks to master. Though to be honest, none of the Dreamcast exclusive tracks are as memorable as the famous Three Seven Speedway, Dinosaur Canyon and Seaside Street Galaxy courses of the original game. They have some challenging corners and layouts, but nothing quite as elaborate as the originals, especially when it comes to the trackside objects. In addition, players can race the courses in mirrored, reverse, and mirrored reverse modes, adding more to the experience.

Once you get under the hood, youíll immediately notice that the controls have been changed quite dramatically, and most Daytona USA veterans will find that the new interface will take some getting used to, since the cars are now a lot more sensitive and touchy than before. Whatís most annoying about the new controls is the fact that you can only control the cars with the analog stick, which is extremely aggravating since a D-pad would have made more sense. This only serves to make the newfound controls more annoying as the cars are far too sensitive to controller movements, causing frequent crashes as you veer out of control, especially early on. While the controls seem to be Daytonaís Achillesí Heel initially, a quick run down to the options mode will allow players to reduce the touchiness of the cars, giving them much easier responsiveness. This gives the game a much better level of control and comfort and improves the overall gameplay dramatically so definitely do this first because itís much less frustrating once the sensitivity is reduced. Daytona still feels a bit different from previous installments but once accustomed, players should find the cars are more responsive than before. All of the little techniques such as power sliding have returned, but these have been fine-tuned as well, making them a bit more difficult to perform than before. So while it definitely doesnít feel the same in the control department, the controls are adequate, given tweaking and time.

Itís a bit bare-bones in the extras department but Daytona USA includes several different modes of play: Single Race, Championship, Time Attack, and Net Play. The Single Race modes allow you to get right into the action. Single Race is a good mode if you want to practice the tracks for the more intense modes later in the game. Daytona USAís time attack mode is straightforward, in this mode you are racing purely for the best time on the course, and since there are no other cars on the track, the task is made easier. This version also includes as championship mode allows players to race a circuit of races, hoping to finish high in the point standings. This mode allows you to unlock hidden cars and tracks and is thus a worthy addition to the game. Daytona also includes a versus modes where you and a friend can battle it out via split screen. This is great though as usual youíll have to compensate for the squished appearance here. Finally, the gameís biggest addition is the inclusion of internet play. While logging onto SegaNet to get a key is a pain, the ability to race against other players online is a real motivator. Unfortunately, youíre limited to only 4 racers at a time, which is a shame, since one of the biggest parts of Daytona USAís appeal was and is the 40 car races. Fortunately, the simple graphics mean that Daytona doesnít suffer from the lag that some of the more elaborate game like Phantasy Star Online and some of the FPSí do so the lack of cutting edge visuals makes for an acceptable trade-off in this department.  

Daytona USAís gameplay is still unmatched by most other arcade racers, with the usual exaggerated, almost bumper car like physics making this one of the best pick up and play games of its type. Those looking for Gran Turismo like realism and endless tweaking wonít be happy, since this is a stripped down, petal to the metal arcade racer in Segaís grand tradition. However, those looking for action-packed pure racing fun will be more than satisfied. There are some moments where small errors cost you the race, but nothing onerous enough that would ruin the game. This is, as you may have guessed, a straightforward racing game where the objective is to win the race, but you also have to worry about your car taking damage, thus lessening itís abilities. This can be a major factor in the race and the game implements pit stops that allow you to repair your car. On the shorter races, this makes no sense because the time spent in the pits makes it nearly impossible to catch up. This mostly comes into play during longer races. The vest strategy top avoid this decision is to avoid damaging your car altogether, this isnít as simple as you might expect and depends largely on how severe your crashes are and the amount of maneuverability you lose in the process. This all follows faithfully the formula from previous games in the series but whatís most surprising is that the opponent AI has been jacked up substantially, making the races more challenging and difficult. The opponents seem much more aggressive and the game seems to punish crashes and slams with more severity than previous installments have. This takes a lot of getting used to, but it makes the gameplay deeper and more involving.  It can be a bit frustrating, however since the exaggerated physics means that opponents can quickly recover from huge crashes. Itís also important which car you choose to race as, since the slower cars make it impossible to catch up once you fall behind. Despite all the little tweaks and changes in Daytona USA DC, the essential balance between action and strategy remains largely intact, and the pick-up-and-play appeal is still very much in evidence.

So for all of that, the best thing about this conversion is that it is indeed Daytona USA, the classic arcade racing game. The DC captures the glory of the original game while speeding it up dramatically while smoothing out the rough edges that marred previous home editions. The new elements are there to compliment what was already a nearly flawless example of racing excellent. It may not be the deepest or most realistic racer ever made, but the sheer simplicity of the game is the key to itís long-term appeal. This is the type of game youíll play again and again for many years to come, and thus the game should quickly attain classic status in your collection, along with the likes of Sega Rally, Out Run and Hang On. The few minor problems with this conversion, mainly the squirrely controls and the too-bright graphics shouldnít be nearly enough to dissuade players from a purchase. As an added bonus, the addition of extra courses, cars and online play make this an excellent game. True, it isnít a true sequel but that shouldnít really matter to fans of the game and for those of you whoíve never played the game at home, this Dreamcast version is a chance to become acquainted with greatness. 

Feeling Nostalgic? Read our archived review of Daytona USA on the Saturn by clicking on this link.