Daytona USA Review (XBLA)

Review By Steven D.

Ladies and Gentleman, start your engines for Daytona USA on Xbox LIVE Arcade and the PlayStation Network.

If you have ever been to a fun fair or an arcade, then you would have almost certainly seen, if not played, this classic driving game. From its first spin around the track in 1993, Daytona USA has managed to turn even the most sedate drivers into glory hunting, speed freaks. So when it was announced by SEGA on the 12th October 2011 that Daytona USA was going to be added to the Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network, I was thrilled.

Now, for those who may remember the SEGA Saturn version of this game, which lacked some of the graphic prowess of its arcade sibling, rest assured that this isn’t that version. Instead, this game remains faithful to the original in sight and sound. So it was with a great deal of anticipation and nostalgia that I downloaded Daytona USA from the Xbox LIVE Arcade.

The splash screen loaded and I was catapulted back to summer holidays at the seaside when my brother and I had taken our hard earned pocket money to play some of the well worn games. The memories came flooding back of sitting in the seat and gripping the steering wheel, still warm and slightly clammy from the previous drivers sweaty fingers. For those who possess a driving wheel, you can recreate that moment (minus the warm and clammy bit hopefully) and really get the full potential from the game.

You are given a choice of three tracks, short, medium or long, as well as manual or automatic transmission. There are also various settings for you to play with including the difficulty of the opponents, the length of time you have and the number of laps. Once you have set your preferences, the race begins!

The three tracks don’t just vary in length but also in setting and complexity, the short version is your typical oval track, the medium length has an open road feel to it with rocks and tunnels and the long track is a town race across bridges and city streets.

Once you are in the race, you take part in a rolling start and battle your way through the pack, you can sustain damage which affects the performance of your car. This can be fixed by taking a pit stop which will see a team of highly skilled mechanics change your tyres and replace your battered bodywork.

As this is based on the arcade version, you get all the benefits of the high frame rate as well and of course the power of the Xbox 360 which handles the graphics with ease. Talking of graphics, this is a 13 year old game of course and so you can’t compare it to a modern counterpart. The 3D visuals are good and the colours are vibrant and eye catching, but as you would expect, it is a little chunky around the edges with the tyres looking more like bolts spinning around.

There is a multi-player mode available for those who want to challenge their friends as well as time trial. Survival mode gives you 80 laps of the circuit with seconds added to your time for not using the breaks or for overtaking, both of which you need to do plenty of to stay in the race. An interesting option is the Karaoke mode which is basically you racing around the track with the words to the song being played on the screen as well. While the lyrics aren’t that complicated, I don’t think I could manage to drive and sing at the same time.

This brings me nicely to the music and commentary in the game. The music is also true to the original, with loud rock and haunting vocals the theme. There is also the sound of your team manager over the radio telling you to be careful, or asking if you are ok as you come out of a bend on your roof.

This is a challenging drive, at least to begin with. The levels of difficulty add another nuance to the cars handling and your opponents driving and so there is enough there to keep you interested at least for a while. I think the best aspect to Daytona USA however is the multiplayer mode which takes this game back to where it really excited the crowd by pitching two people against each other. Not physically side by side this time, but with all the adrenaline and the bragging rights that comes from a win, or the shame from a failure.

This classic racer has more than enough in its arsenal to keep you occupied for a while, even if it’s for a stroll down memory lane. Either way, Daytona USA is a fantastic addition to the Xbox LIVE Arcade and the PlayStation Network.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

About the Author

I'm based in the UK and I have been writing about games for quite a while now. I like most types of game which helps, but I especially love management games.