Daytona USA

Daytona USA is, in case you're unfamiliar with the title, an HD remake of a classic arcade and Sega Saturn game of the same name. The premise is pretty straightforward: race an automatic or manual car (there's not many options here) around one of three tracks in your quest to go from the back to the front of the grid.

The three tracks are simply titled Beginner, Advanced, and Expert. In addition to having the obviously increased complexity afforded by tighter corners and other terrain-related shenanigans, the tracks are made easier by having more laps (8 on Beginner) or harder by having fewer (4 on Advanced, 2 on Expert), allowing learning to be a factor in success.

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If you get bored of the three included tracks, you can spice things up a bit by turning on mirror mode in the options, which means left turns become right turns and so on. If you want to mess with a friend, turn on mirror mode and don't tell him. Fun times are guaranteed to ensue.

In order to ensure that there's more reason to buy the game than just nostalgia, the developers have added some additional content that wasn't present in the original title, including challenges and Karaoke mode. The former gives you something additional to do, while the latter enables you to... umm... drive around the track while singing selected songs from the soundtrack - complete with on-screen lyrics. An odd inclusion, to be sure.

The challenges are fairly obvious affairs, with things like "Don't hit a wall" and "Get to 278 KM/h within the time limit" split out across each of the three tracks (ten per track). Despite the obviousness, however, the challenges can be just that - challenging. They're also a compelling inclusion, with enough variety and escalation in difficulty to be very addictive and fun to complete.

There's also a survival mode, which charges you with racing for a very long time - over the course of which your tyres will degrade. Smart management of pit stops for tyre replacement, along with good racing technique of course, is key in this endurance event.

The racing remains faithful to the original, which had a surprisingly deep set of mechanics for the time but is definitely still showing its age. Learning to drive effectively (a requirement of finishing first on the Expert track) will take some time, with power slides and effective brake management taking practice to master.

Visually it's what you might expect in most ways, with the original graphics faithfully rendered in high-definition. It's a nice treatment, certainly, but it's disappointing to see a high degree of popup (where objects only appear when quite close to the camera) while other objects (such as the lower, supporting structure from a big bridge) aren't rendered at all.

If you're a fan of the original Daytona, this is a vital component of your collection. Its reverence to the source material is at a level rarely seen in remakes, to the point that aspects of the title that could use revision - like the visuals - are left basically untouched. There's loads of bonus content, too, which will keep fans entertained long after the thrill of nostalgia itself has abated.

But if you're not familiar with the original, and not particularly open-minded, chances are you'll hate this. With a passion. It looks dated and there have been many arcade racers since this debuted in 1994, each iterating and experimenting - taking the arcade genre to thrilling new heights.

You need to decide which of those camps you're in before plumping down your hard-earned.

"A must-buy for the fans, but not so much the rest of you."
- Daytona USA
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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Comments Comments (3)

Posted by KatalystaKaos
On Wednesday 4 Jan 2012 9:52 AM
Loved this back in the day, must have feed literally $100's into the Arcade Racers c*ckpit. Then thrashed it out on the Saturn version.

May pick it up if I'm low on games to play(if that's possible with my ever growing back log!!) or if there's a really good PS+ or M$ deal in the future but for now it'll remain a nostalgic memory.
Posted by Ninja-15
On Wednesday 4 Jan 2012 10:46 AM
Daytona USA is one of my all time favourite games. I got it on the PSN but unfortunately it's not "arcade perfect". Still good though... There is another version out there which is "nearly" arcade perfect...
Posted by Budinski420
On Friday 3 Feb 2012 12:07 PM
Often wonder why more arcade games aren't re-released on console. Seems like easy money for developers to emulate an existing game. Gamers are often the most nostalgic of consumers. I would love to see Shinobi or Wonder Boy remade for PS.