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Daytona USA (Xbox 360) artwork

Daytona USA (Xbox 360) review


"Daytona USA was an experience. And it’s the sort of experience that can never be brought home. Sure, we can search online for seven like-minded old school players to have a go, but that doesn’t come close. What might have come close, would be local multiplayer, so that at least you could invite friends over and split-screen race to your hearts’ content. Guess what? Local multiplayer is not available. Oops."



This is the best Daytona USA ever released for play at home. Supposedly the Sega Saturn version was rushed to completion and had major graphical issues (like clipping abound), and the Dreamcast revision looked great but had sloppy controls. I say supposedly, because I haven’t played either of those ports. But I have played Daytona USA in the arcades like the rest of the world, and I can confirm that this Xbox Live iteration looks and plays as clean and crisp as is possible, and that’s wonderful news.

Many other Sega games have been made available for download of late and most have aged quite poorly – Daytona USA has not. Despite being some 18-years-old, it manages to look curiously attractive, in its quaint and blocky way, and the forgiving, arcade-y racing physics continue to prove inviting to casual players. Which is not to say that the game is easy: the expert course can definitely get tricky.

That's right, I said course.

And herein lies the trouble with Daytona USA. It’s always been extremely limited. A few cars, a handful of tracks, the choice between automatic and manual transmission, and four vantages points from which to survey the action. That's essentially it. Being able to take on mirrored versions of tracks or tackle karaoke mode – well, those are just fleeting distractions. The sobering truth is that there's not much here, and there never was.

What made this game a phenomenon in the nineties – besides the fact that in ’93 these graphics were considered slick and ahead of their time – was the ability for us arcade-going gamers to sit with seven drunk friends in aligned cockpit cabinets, hammering the pedals, locking the wheel into turns, jamming the shifter down to screech into straight-aways, all while we hoped that hot girls looked on.

Daytona USA was an experience. And it’s the sort of experience that can never be brought home. Sure, we can search online for seven like-minded old school players to have a go, but that doesn’t come close. What might have come close, would be local multiplayer, so that at least you could invite friends over and split-screen race to your hearts’ content. Guess what? Local multiplayer is not available. Oops.

It’s a shame, because there is a demographic of players who want simpler, easier to pick-up-and-play titles in the face of the growing complexity and luster of the today’s top racing games, but Daytona USA swings the pendulum too far the other way, and gives us extreme barebones action, which manifests a definite fun factor, but one that cannot be sustained. Especially not when you’re playing all by your lonesome. And remotely racing with whichever few strangers you can find on the Net is less consolation than you might think. At least the kitschy main theme can still elicit a laugh or two: Daytonnnnaaaaaa! Let’s go away!!

Rating: 5/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (November 04, 2011)

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jerec posted November 04, 2011:

I love this paragraph:

"What made this game a phenomenon in the nineties – besides the fact that in ’93 these graphics were considered slick and ahead of their time – was the ability for us arcade-going gamers to sit with seven drunk friends in aligned cockpit cabinets, hammering the pedals, locking the wheel into turns, jamming the shifter down to screech into straight-aways, all while we hoped that hot girls looked on."

Because I've totally done that plenty of times. In Sydney, in the middle of all the pubs there's a huge arcade and they've got the 8 seat Daytona set up. Best drunk driving ever. I think this paragraph nailed the experience completely, and I'm sure most people have experienced this at one point or another. I don't even like Arcade gaming much, but I do like Daytona.

I was initially excited when I saw this was coming to Xbox Live, but I did suspect there wasn't much to the game beyond the arcade experience, which this port would lack. Thank you for writing this.
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Masters posted November 04, 2011:

Thanks, Jerec. It's pretty cool that on the other side of the world, we're having the same experience with this game. The split-screen option would have made this game way way way better. Because one drunken friend is better than none!
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wolfqueen001 posted November 04, 2011:

Nice review. I've never played the arcade version, or any version, for that matter, as I was never interested in racing games. But you definitely let it show here that the game was really much better then, if mostly for the reason that you could play with like-minded friends.
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pickhut posted November 06, 2011:

Finally got a chance to read this.

I like this review, even though I enjoyed my time with this port, and even agree with most of the points you made. It never even crossed my mind that this was lacking local splitscreen multiplayer until you brought it up in the review. Definitely a major goof on Sega's part. That's something that could've given the game more replay value once the online "community" dies down for this game.
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Masters posted November 06, 2011:

Thanks Leslie and pick.

pick: I enjoyed the hell out of this port too, and played it taking turns with a friend... but then we both got pissed that we couldn't just play each other. I mean, we did that in Mario Kart how long ago?
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jerec posted November 06, 2011:

Yeah, to play together you'd have to tell him to go home and get online...
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Masters posted November 07, 2011:

Haha! Nice. I should have put that in the review.

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