This blog post is a review of the home version of the arcade classic, mostly the PC version. This blog post is semi-dedicated to my Blogspot friend over at Musings of a Sega Racing Fan. Also, this is one of many previously unreleased/unfinished blog posts made this year that I'm trying to release to make way for more topics for 2011.
Sega made stock car racing cool with the Daytona USA series. It was one of the first racing games to feature textured graphics on both the cars and the environments. It was Sega's most revolutionary racing game since the beautiful OutRunners arcade game in 1992. While the Daytona USA does NOT feature the Daytona International Speedway (in fact, it has NEVER featured it, but does it NEED to?), it does feature all the elements that make stock car racing what it is- intense, take-no-prisoners racing.
Cars.The only team you race for is the Hornet High-Class racing team and their #41 car. You can choose between different varieties of the #41 car in either Automatic or Manual/Standard transmission. Many more options are available when you start unlocking cars in PC Mode. In PC Mode, you have four cars to choose from with differing levels of performance. You earn new cars if you manage to finish well (for starters, the Top 3) on all three tracks. You can unlock more cars with other levels of performance. And let's just say... two surprising "cars" can be chosen if you do well on the hardest course.
Tracks.This game consists of three tracks. When you select a course, you can choose between a Normal number of laps, a Grand Prix number of laps, and an Endurance number of laps. Normal gives you the normal number of laps around each course. Grand Prix races last about double the distance of a normal race. Endurances are about ten times the number of laps for each course. The endurance races can last anywhere between 26 minutes to about 40 minutes depending on the course. It is also possible to do mirrored races and even do Time Lap sessions.
* The Beginner course is the bread and butter of stock car racing- ovals. Three-Seven Speedway is a high-speed oval similar in nature to Pocono. The biggest highlights of the course is the large slot machine over the backstretch and a rock sculpture of Sonic the Hedgehog in Turn 3. The only decisive corner is the sharp Turn 3. It shouldn't be hard to at least finish 10th or higher here. A normal race lasts eight laps around here. Lap times can take about 20 seconds. If doing an endurance here, it will take about 26 minutes to complete 80 laps around this course.
* Dinosaur Canyon is the Advanced course. This is a road course in a national park-like setting. Among the many highlights are smooth corners and a tunnel that you can race full speed through. Don't get too lazy here, because you will pay dearly for being too passive. The trickiest corner is the corner before the tunnel. The three corners out of the tunnel are the toughest corners, especially the very sharp final corner. No excuses- you'll need to do some drifting to clear this corner properly.
* Take to the streets of Seaside Street Galaxy in this Expert course. Here, you will start on a bridge, wind your way through an airport terminal, get on city streets, return to the bridge, come across a space station, and see a lovely old ship. The roads that traverse Seaside Street Galaxy will test your limits like never before. You need to be adept to make the most of all of the roads surrounding this course. Keep mistakes to a minimum if you expect to win. My advice- stay on the main road when going through the airport terminal. The most critical corner to get right is the super-sharp hairpin corner that leads back to the Start/Finish line.
Basic Review.If you think the arcade version is great, you may or may not be so much in love with the home version. Critics have said that this home game just isn't as fun or as beautifully-detailed as its arcade counterpart. The most critical flaws of most classic Sega racing games are not enough cars and not enough tracks. Despite this, Sega wins and earns its fans with solid gameplay. The game will seem to be over very quickly with only so few cars and tracks. If you can't be at the arcade, or if you don't own a Daytona USA arcade unit, the home version is still a worthy alternative. It may not be as fast or as exciting as the arcade version, but it's still a great game to play. It may also be disappointing since there are no multiplayer options (at least for the PC version).
The sounds are perhaps the weakest aspect of this game. The cars in the home version don't have the same great roar as the arcade version does. Music also suffers here. The music just sounds better and richer in the arcade version even if Daytona USA has chiptunes while the home version has Redbook audio. The songs just sound flat in the home version compared to the arcade version. It's still worth your time listening to, though.
While the home version lacks a lot of the punch and character of the arcade version, it is still a great game to play. This game even played on my very first PC (albeit quite slowly), a Packard Bell PC with 8 MB of RAM and a 75 MHz processor. I still enjoy that I got this game a long time ago. I sometimes still wish that Sega Super GT (or SCUD Race) was released for home consoles... :( I sometimes play the PC version of Daytona USA imagining I was playing a home release of Super GT. And because this game is a Windows game, you shouldn't have to worry about using some other program or something to play this game even on a modern PC. You may just have to change compatibility settings to play the game a bit better. Otherwise, this is one of few classic games you can really enjoy even today. The Arcade version is much better, but the home version is far short of disappointing.
Here is a video preview and comparison. The first video is of the Sega Saturn version, which (from what I've been reading) is about the same as the Windows version. The second video is for comparison purposes only as it is a look at the arcade version. Both videos are provided for educational purposes. Compare for yourself:
^ Sega Saturn (Home version)
^ arcade version (emulated)
Want to give it a try? Get it on Amazon:
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