Review by gm_matthew
"Almost arcade-perfect, but not quite"
Those who know me will probably know how much I like the arcade version of Daytona USA, with it being my choice for the best racing game of all time. However, it was a huge struggle to make a good home version, as the Saturn version had awful graphics and no multi-player, the PC version shared those problems, and the Championship Circuit Edition suffered from poor controls. But then, in 2001, one last attempt was made to finally bring the original arcade greatness home, and here is the result.
The thing I notice is that this game appears to be the video game equivalent of Marmite; you love it or hate it. Many people say this game is arcade perfect or even better, while a few others claim the gameplay has been destroyed in this version. So which is true, or is it somewhere in the middle? Well, no point just jabbering about stuff, let's find out...
Let's start with the positives. Firstly, there is negligible slowdown, a consistent 60 frames per second, no pop-up, and high detail. The cars look very shiny indeed, but then again, they are actually a bit too shiny - a sign that Sega was trying too hard to make the game look nice - which is the first negative. Then there's the shape of the Hornet car, which is nothing like the shape of the original. I know the original car's wheels were big, but it's overkill in the DC version. Still, there's nothing horribly wrong with the graphics, they're certainly a lot better than the original Saturn port.
Here is possibly my least favourite part of this port. Firstly, the sounds themselves are much worse than the original game, for example a big crash has an awesome sound effect in the original, but here it's a simple bang. The voices are hopeless, managing to be annoying while the original game's voices didn't. The only positive is some of the music, the remixed versions of 'The King of Speed' and 'Sky High' sound great, but the remix of 'Let's Go Away' sounds much less impressive. Interestingly, the original arcade music is included, but only as main menu music.
Here is what everyone will be anticipating - is the gameplay arcade perfect, Well, first of all you'll need to either turn the sensitivity of the controller down (sorry Japan since you can't do this in your version) or get a steering wheel controller, since the controls are over-sensitive to start off with.
The game has the three original tracks, the two extra ones from CCE and three brand new tracks, and while the new tracks are a nice addition, they're not as good as the original tracks, with one problem being the width of the track being a bit much. There are also four cars, plus quite a few unlockable ones, one of the initial cars being the original Hornet with a new (uglier) look.
The first mode is the Single Player mode, which basically plays very much like the original arcade version, and can be made even more similar with a few tweaks (correct number of cars, laps, medium-hard tyres and hard difficulty), but despite the changes, it will never play exactly the same as the original. Fortunately, it's not the end of the world since it comes pretty close and will only disappoint the hardcore arcade Daytona fans.
Other modes include Time Attack, Split-Screen mode, the now no-longer-running online mode, and the Championship mode, where you have to position high enough to move on to the next stage of the championship. Sadly, this mode only seems to border expert and advanced players from the beginners and intermediates, as you need to place in roughly the same position each time. Still, it's a nice addition to the game regardless.
If you like Daytona USA and can ignore the fact that the controls aren't quite faithful to the original, you will definitely like this game and be playing it until Sega comes up with a new Daytona USA game which may or may not happen (I certainly hope it does). Trying to improve your times is nearly as addictive as in the arcade version, it's just that this version doesn't have quite the multiplayer capabilities of its arcade cousin to make this version last forever.
Graphics - 8
Sound - 6
Gameplay - 9
Lifespan - 9
Total - 9/10 (superb)
This game may have many small faults, but none of them are really that bad. If you can just put all those faults aside, you have arcade racing at its near best. Obviously the arcade version is still a better game, but unless you have a Daytona USA cabinet at your local arcade or are so rich you can actually buy your own cabinet, this is the best version of Daytona USA that you can buy. Unless Sega makes a new Daytona USA game...
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/08/08
Game Release: Daytona USA 2001 (EU, 05/11/01)
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