Let's Go Away, Let's Go Away...
One of Sega's greatest arcade games finally gets the downloadable port treatment on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network, which is Daytona USA. Back in 1993, this was a game that started a train of arcade racers by Sega and the one setting standards for the genre in general. After numerous disappointing ports on the Sega Saturn, PC, and the Dreamcast, Daytona finally gets a proper home port it deserves even though it is based on a HD re-release back at arcades called Sega Racing Classic, which was basically the same game without the name due to rights issues. Sega now has the rights back to use the Daytona name for this PSN/XBLA port and while they have done a lackluster job with their Genesis game ports on these consoles, they have done way better with their arcade games as this one was no exception. Daytona USA is still as good and fun as it was back in 1993 and easily worth your ten dollars.
The same arcade game is intact in this version from the three courses, the catchy soundtrack, and the intense racing action. This was arcade racing at its finest as it is the same infamous Hornet car, automatic or manual transmission, and overtaking the opposition, whether its the CPU or online opponents. Daytona was also one of many racers back then that had a pick up and play mentality, but deeper than you think gameplay once you learn more of the tactics especially drifting in sharper turns, drafting as seen in a NASCAR race, and boost starting at the harder courses. There is a rewind feature new to these versions, but its one of those unnecessary things to have even though today's racers have something similar. Besides the main arcade mode, there are actually some extra modes to keep players going for a bit solo on these new home versions. Besides the standard time trials, there are challenges to complete ranging from mastering the game's tougher turns at the various courses to learning the tactics I mentioned earlier. In addition, survival mode lets you stay on the track as long as you can till the timer runs out as you extend time performing certain tasks. Then there's the karaoke mode seen in the Saturn version where you can recite the lyrics of the game's catchy songs while driving, which is a neat bonus for fans. Even though it doesn't seem to be enough content considering it is still the three courses and their mirrored versions, there is online multiplayer to round out the package.
Online multiplayer is maxed out at eight players as getting into games are done by simple lobbies. There are options to mess around with when hosting matches such as whether or not to include non-player cars, race in the mirrored versions, and turning tire fatigue on or off especially in longer games. My gripe with the lobbies is that if not all players are readied up by the end of the countdown (tends to be two or more players), the lobby resets to the join in screen making games longer to start. As far as how matches go, they feel great with minimal latency issues. Opposing cars might be slightly not moving as normal as they would due to their connection. Other than that, these races are as intense as they were when racing against seven other players at those big car setups at some Dave & Busters. Even if you had a bad crash at the beginning of a race, there is still an opportunity to come back and no lead is ever safe at any of the courses even if you're doing well. My only disappointment with the online multiplayer is surprisingly a lack of online leaderboards in the menus to track down who are the best players as you're just there racing for fun even though that seems to be enough for most people. The leaderboards only consist of the best times in time trials and distance traveled in the survival mode. The other major missing feature in this port is local multiplayer despite this still being the arcade version as it would been nice to some splitscreen too.
In terms of how HD this version of Daytona USA looks, this is not some full-fledged HD remake with the visuals. It is the same 18 year old game (or bascially Sega Racing Classic), but with widescreen and cleaned up textures. The framerate is consistently smooth with no slowdown at all as seen in past PSN/XBLA releases by Sega's AM2 port team. The soundtrack is still as catchy and memorable as it was back in the day. The intro theme hearing "Daytona... let's go away" is a great nostalgic trip as well as the rolling start at the start of the beginner course. The sound effects and voice overs also remain the same with no issues at all.
Even though it feels like a trip down memory lane, the PSN/XBLA port of Daytona USA is arguably Sega's best downloadable effort on these consoles. It is finally the proper home port fans have been waiting for numerous years after experiencing disappointing versions in the past. Besides the extra single-player modes, the fun and addicting online multiplayer will keep players going for a while despite not noticing any leaderboards for that. The game still looks great despite how old it is compared to today's racing games and the catchy soundtrack is as memorable as it was eighteen years ago. If you're itching for some good old-fashioned arcade racing, Daytona USA is a blast and easily worth the ten dollar price.
- As arcade perfect as it gets (the best port of this game)
- Racing as still as fun and intense as it was back in the arcade days
- Extra single-player modes and online multiplayer to increase replay value
- The catchy soundtrack
- I didn't see any online multiplayer leaderboards tracking wins or ranking (only for time trial and survival modes)
- Slight lobby issues making matches take longer to start if not all players are readied up.
- No local multiplayer