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Review: Daytona USA

Posted by on October 30th, 2011 | 0 Comments | Tags:

Listen, and listen well. We both know that if you have fond memories of the original Daytona USA, then you’ve already bought this game and have seen everything it has to offer. That much has been made abundantly clear. However, there are apparently people who haven’t played this racing classic, so I’m going to do my very best here to do that. Daytona USA isn’t just any arcade racer, it’s an arcade racer with three amazing tracks, and one of the catchiest theme tunes known to man. If you haven’t experienced it in all its majesty yet, then the PSN version is by far the best way to do so.

SEGA’s AM2 division have done an amazing job bringing their 18 year old racing game into the HD age, with smooth clean visuals serving to not highlight how boxy everything is, but to actually make it all seem pleasant. There’s an elegant simplicity to how everything looks, with a low draw distance, a sky that moves when you turn corners, and even a damage system that just swaps parts out from “ok” to “dented” in front of your eyes. SEGA haven’t done anything expect up the resolution, and that’s precisely what makes this game so lovingly done. It’s the perfect version of a classic game, right down to the weird little quirks. Seeing the rest of the track a track appear in the distance isn’t frustrating, it’s a warm shot of nostalgia. You know your console could easily render everything in this game in seconds flat, but SEGA have preserved everything you remember. It’s absolutely wonderful.

Of course, the actual game plays great too. Daytona USA isn’t going to surprise anybody by playing like a modern game. Drifting is finicky and imprecise, with cars spinning out at every possible corner with the slightest hint of a bad touch. This is a game that was designed to be played with a wheel, and it makes the transition to an analogue stick respectably. It’s an arcade game through and through, with 3 tracks and a number of challenges. Trying to make it around a track without hitting a wall is an incredible achievement, especially if you want to actually win. There’s also an online component, and that works respectably enough. I was able to play a race and have it not crash, which is respectable enough for me. If you’re coming here for online multiplayer though, you’re in the wrong place. This is a game to play on your own, blazing around every track as quickly as possible, and then posting your time on the leaderboards for all to see. There’s also a karaoke mode, which is exactly what it sounds like. It might just be the greatest mode I’ve ever seen in a racing game.

Daytona USA is a lovingly recreated classic that hasn’t dulled with age. The controls are strange, the music is often hilarious and cheesy, there’s a breakdancing statue, and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Enjoy it, cherish it, and for the love of all that is holy, sing the theme tune.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

General Info

  • It was designed to be played with a wheel, so the analogue stick controls are a bit off.