Daytona USA is commonly considered one of the most influential arcade racers of all time. Released by Sega AM2 in 1993 as a follow up to arcade smash hit Virtua Racing, Daytona's graphical prowess was unrivaled at the time. A few years later in 1995 the game received a home port to Sega's next generation system the Sega Saturn as a launch title. Let's see if it stacked up during the Saturn's "rolling start".
Story- No true story here, but that's not uncommon for arcade racers.
Gameplay- When you first start up your copy of Daytona you'll be greeted with 2 game modes: Arcade mode and Saturn mode. Arcade mode replicates the gameplay of the original release having you trying to reach the end of the race before the ever ticking timer counts down to zero. Saturn mode is the more typical racing style mode where you focus on jockeying for position, and attempting to come in 1st place without the use of a timer. The game contains three tracks in total, and you'll really need to master them if you want to win either game mode.
The movement in the game is exquisite. It feels completely arcade perfect, even on a regular gamepad. It strikes the perfect balance of not being sluggish, while also not being overly twitchy (A line other Daytona games fail to straddle). You can choose between an automatic or manual driving style with manual having a higher top speed but being much more difficult to manage. The game also maintains a high frame rate, a requirement in a racing game.
Graphics- Iffy. The game was rushed to completion, and it definitely shows. The polygons of the race course ahead of you pops in right in front of your car. The beautiful textures of the arcade also took a major hit. This definitely made the game seem inferior to the PS1's Ridge Racer. It's not game breaking, but a serious downside.
Sound Design- It's hard to quantify how I feel about the Daytona soundtrack. On the one hand the Japanese dude, who does not sound like he understands English, singing "Daytonaaaa, let's go away!" feels oddly surreal. I can't deny that the tracks in the game are catchy, and they start to grow on you. I also like how your pit crew chimes in during the race to encourage you. Thanks guys!
Longevity - The game keeps track of your fastest laps and high scores. This leads to slowly whittling down your times, millisecond by millisecond. Plus, there are many hidden cars to unlock through the Saturn mode. Definitely some longevity here.
Although the launch of the Sega Saturn was definitely botched, Daytona USA stood alongside Panzer Dragoon as one of the consoles sole bright spots. Great gameplay, and arcade perfection make it a sure thing to buy for any Saturn owner.
- 1 Player
- Published by Sega AM2
- Sega Saturn