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Daytona USA Review

Review; Nov. 14, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
Daytooonaaa!!! Let's Go Away!!!

The colorful graphics, the incredible sense of speed, the tight course design, and of course, the goofy music. Arcade goers or owners of a Sega Saturn or Dreamcast console will remember the classic racing title Daytona USA. Famous for being a notable early entry in the mid-'90s arcade racer alongside other famous titles such as Ridge Racer, Daytona set itself apart from the competition by putting an emphasis on unique driving mechanics, bright and colorful graphics, and a silky smooth 60 FPS that ran without a hitch even when facing other drivers. It was a true embodiment of the philosophy of arcade gaming: fun and accessibility.

Daytona USA

While Daytona was released on both the Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast, both versions were inferior to the arcade original. The Saturn version suffered from a less-than-satisfactory FPS and graphical conversion. The Dreamcast version featured improved graphics, new cars and course, and the ability to play online with friends but suffered from poor controls that, at times, made it nearly impossible to play well.

Finally, after a history of mediocre ports, Daytona USA has arrived for modern consoles, and while it isn't the definitive version that I wished it was, it is still a very impressive effort and one that is still tons of fun to play years later.

The XBLA and PSN versions of Daytona come with the arcade original's two-car, three-track selection, with each car in either automatic or manual transmission and each track in easy, medium, or hard difficulty. Also like the arcade original, the smooth frame rate and flashy graphics are intact and gorgeous to behold in HD. Obviously, it has nothing compared to modern racing titles, but taken into perspective, the bright colors and sense of speed still look impressive.

Daytona USA Screenshots
Click the image to view game screenshots

Daytona also features online play with up to eight other players through XBL or PSN. Online play is smooth, and during my test with both friends and random players, I was able to connect and play games with no issues. Besides the main mode, there are a selection of bonuses unique to this version. A Mission mode is available with a selection of different missions ranging in difficulty and variety similar to Gran Turismo or Forza 4. It contains tasks as simple as taking a corner without hitting the walls to ones that are more obscure such as finding and destroying a statue of Vitura Fighter's Jeffery hidden on a course. These provide fun -- if slightly easy -- tasks that require the player to use all of his learned technique and driving skills. Finally, there is a Karaoke mode that has you racing around the different tracks while the words to each of the songs appear on the screen. While it's pretty much a pointless mode, it's a fun little addition that reminds players Daytona isn't about fixing gear ratios or finding new rims to pimp out your ride. Daytona is about speed. It's about gameplay. It's about fun.

My only complaint is more of a personal preference: I wish there was more content in the game. The Dreamcast version had a ton of new cars and tracks to unlock. If only those extras were available in this version, we could have had a definitive version of the game. Again, it's not a deal breaker, but it's a slight disappointment to be sure.

If you're itching for a fit of nostalgia or just curious what the heyday of arcade racers was all about, you could do worse that purchasing Daytona USA. This is arcade racing at its purest, most default form and a fresh reminder of a generation of games gone but truly not forgotten.

*Editor's Note: OMGN received a free review copy of the game for this article.


Review Score


Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

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