Daytona USA is a 3D stock-car racing game developed by Sega-AM2 and released by Sega for arcades (using their Sega Model 2 hardware) on August 1993 (exclusively in Japan) and March 1994 (worldwide).
The first title to debut on the Sega Model 2 arcade system, Daytona USA is loosely based on stock car races in the Daytona International Speedway (notably the Daytona 500). It builds on the studio's earlier Virtua Racing with filtered, texture-mapped polygons (one of the first games to do so), giving a more realistic appearance at a high framerate. It's also notable for its vocal game soundtrack, composed by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi.
Similar to Virtua Racing, the game features three courses of varying difficulty and, while not allowing multiple car choices, allows two transmission choices (Automatic and 4-Speed Manual). The V.R. Button system also returns, allowing players to choose from four different camera angles at any time. Arcade operators can link up machines for multiplayer (with up to eight racers at once) and multiple versions of the cabinet exist (including one-player "upright", two-player "twin", and one-player "deluxe").
The game later received multiple ports for the Sega Saturn and Windows PCs, along with two full-fledged sequels (Daytona USA 2 and Daytona Championship USA), an enhanced Sega Dreamcast port, a high-definition arcade port (as Sega Racing Classic), and a high-definition digitally-released port for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
While it is based on stock car racing (and is sponsored by the International Speedway Corporation), it does not contain any sponsorship (including cars and drivers) from the National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR), which hosts the stock car racing events at Daytona.
The game was first ported to the Sega Saturn in Japan (on April 1, 1995), North America (on May 11, 1995 as a launch title), and Europe (on July 8, 1995 as a launch title). While weaker on graphics, this version features two-player split-screen multiplayer, optional mirrored courses, numerous secrets (including a "karaoke" mode, reversed courses, and the ability to race as a horse) and an arranged redbook audio soundtrack. This version was later ported to Windows-compatible PCs on December 1996, with the Japanese version having two releases (one of which is optimized for certain video cards).
The game was later ported to the PC-based Sega RingWide arcade hardware in 2009 as SR: Sega Racing Classic, removing all references to the Daytona International Speedway (including those in the vocal soundtrack). While support for cabinet link-up is limited to four players (down from eight), it features new 32" widescreen displays with 720p support. This version was later ported to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 25, 2011 as Daytona USA (with all Daytona references restored). Released digitally, the 360 and PS3 versions feature online multiplayer (for up to eight players) and bonus game modes (including Challenge and Survival).
The Saturn port later received an updated re-release as Daytona USA: Championship Circuit Edition in Europe (on November 14, 1996) and North America (on November 14, 1996) and as Daytona USA: Circuit Edition in Japan (on January 24, 1997). Updated by Sega CS R&D, this port features 8 cars to choose from (each with different stats), two new courses, and a new arranged soundtrack (by Richard Jacques and Jun Senoue, with lyrics sung by Eric Martin).
The Japanese version, updated further by Sega CS2, also added improved drifting, the optional arcade soundtrack, the ability to choose time-of-day, and support for multi-console multiplayer via either the Taisen Cable (for LAN) or the Sega Saturn Modem (for online via XBAND).
The North American version received a limited re-release on October 1997, adding support for Sega's NetLink Internet Modem adapter for online multiplayer via NetLink (one of five games to do so). As it was only released through Sega's online storefront, this version is considered the rarest North American game released for the system.
The Saturn "Circuit Edition" version was later ported to Windows PCs as Daytona USA Deluxe in North America and Europe (on October 16, 1997) and as Daytona USA Evolution in Japan (on November 21, 1997). This version features eight-player online and LAN multiplayer, car tuning options, and a bonus course. A special promotional demo version ("Special Edition") of the game was released in North America in 1998, restricted to one track (Dinosaur Canyon) and one car (a re-skinned Hornet, called "Skittles") while adding additional branding with the Skittles Racing Team.
The "Circuit Edition" was later ported by Amusement Vision to the Sega Dreamcast in Japan on December 21, 2000 (by Hasbro as Daytona USA 2001), in North America on March 14, 2001 (by Hasbro as Daytona USA), and in Europe on April 27, 2001 (by Infogrames as Daytona USA 2001). Along with three new courses, a new arranged soundtrack, a new single-player mode (Championship), and eight-player online multiplayer via the Dreamcast Modem, this version overhauls the graphics engine, menu UI, and car roster.
While the game's three courses were not named in the original version, they were retroactively given names in enhanced ports and the game's soundtrack.
- Three Seven Speedway (Beginner)
- Dinosaur Canyon (Advanced)
- Sea-Side Street Galaxy (Expert)
- Desert City (exclusive to the Circuit Edition, Deluxe, and Dreamcast versions)
- National Park Speedway (exclusive to the Circuit Edition, Deluxe, and Dreamcast versions)
- Silver Ocean Causeway (exclusive to the Deluxe version)
- Circuit Pixie (exclusive to the Dreamcast version)
- Rin Rin Rink (exclusive to the Dreamcast version)
- Mermaid Lake (exclusive to the Dreamcast version)
In the original version, only one car is available (the Hornet). This was changed in certain enhanced ports so that players can choose from different cars (each with different stats).
- Hornet (Normal) - Average Grip and Acceleration, Low Max Speed
- Gallop (Normal) - Average Grip and Acceleration, Low Max Speed
- Max (Beginner) - Very High Grip and Acceleration, Very Low Max Speed
- Phoenix (Expert) - Very High Acceleration and Max Speed, Very Low Grip
- Oriole (Expert) - High Acceleration and Max Speed, Low Grip
- Magic (Expert) - Average Grip and Max Speed, Low Acceleration
- Wolf (Beginner) - Very High Acceleration, High Grip, Very Low Max Speed
- Balance (Normal) - Very High Grip, High Max Speed, Very Low Acceleration
- Daytona (Special) - Very High Grip, Acceleration, and Max Speed
- Hornet - Average Grip, Acceleration, and Max Speed
- Grasshopper - Very High Grip, Very Low Acceleration and Max Speed
- Falcon - High Grip, Low Acceleration and Max Speed
- Lightning - High Acceleration and Max Speed, Low Grip
- Unicorn (unlockable) - Very High Acceleration and Max Speed, Very Low Grip
- Red Cat (unlockable) - High Acceleration, Average Grip and Max Speed
- Pywackett Barchetta (unlockable) - Very High Grip, High Acceleration, Very Low Max Speed
- Rule of the Ninth (unlockable) - High Acceleration and Max Speed, Low Grip
- Javelin (unlockable) - Very High Acceleration and Max Speed, Very Low Grip
- Pywackett Barchetta Super (unlockable) - Very High Grip, Low Acceleration and Max Speed