|Review by||:||Larry Tipton|
Daytona USA is one of my all-time favorite Sega arcade games. I own both Saturn versions of this racing game. Both were fun, but fell short of delivering the game intact. Now comes Daytona USA for the Sega Dreamcast, a system capable of handling the game's fast, over-the-top arcade racing. Imagine my surprise to find that the Dreamcast version is even better than the arcade version!
Daytona USA is an arcade racer. I say this because I want the uninitiated to realize that the game is all about high speed racing, complete with stock car style rubbing, bumps and spills. You'll not find any name brand drivers here nor will you find cars that look like today's NASCAR bunch.
Daytona USA includes the three tracks that made the arcade version famous, which alone would have made me happy. But the developer also included two tracks from the second Saturn title, and three brand new tracks. All are rendered to perfection and the original three look better than ever. To make the game even more feature rich, the tracks can be raced in reverse and mirrored, and the number of cars on track can be adjusted.
If you played the Saturn versions, you can remember the grainy graphics and severe graphical pop-up. You'll find none of that in the Dreamcast version. The graphics are outstanding and blaze along at a consistent sixty frames per second. What's really amazing is that the game engine can do this both offline and online. The car reflections and other added details are superbly executed. The cars can and will take damage that will affect the performance of the vehicle both visually and physically. Daytona USA also includes multiple driving perspectives from behind the car and behind the wheel.
Did I say online? Yes, Daytona USA can now be played online against up to three other players. It can be both an exhilarating and sometimes frustrating experience. If there was a problem with the game, it would be with the online play. If you cannot achieve an acceptable connection speed, you will be disconnected, which may happen during a race. Your car is presented on screen at all times, as it should. Depending on network lag, your opponents may tend to warp or disappear occasionally. Hopefully the network will improve over time. It really does not detract from the game play, as it is rock solid. Your win/loss statistics are recorded for all to see.
Playing the game offline, you can race with up to forty cars for the checkered flag at a time. You can also choose to race against a friend via split screen. The ghost mode allows you to race against yourself, something that I use to better understand where my problem areas are on the track.
Daytona USA allows you to adjust the controller's sensitivity and responsiveness. This is a good thing as the default setting is too sensitive. Before getting deep into the game you should take the time to dial it to fit your style of driving.
The game plays great using the Dreamcast Controller. It also supports the Race Controller. Graphics junkies will be grateful for the VGA Box support. Unfortunately, Daytona USA does not support the broadband adaptor.
The game is packed with the tunes that Daytona USA fans have come to love and sometimes hate, and the game sounds add to the frantic pace that is Daytona USA.
Daytona USA is arcade perfection.
This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 09-Apr-01