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Daytona USA (video game)

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Daytona USA
Daytona USA arcade flyer.jpg
Daytona USA arcade flyer
Developer(s)Sega AM2
Director(s)Toshihiro Nagoshi
Producer(s)Toshihiro Nagoshi
Yu Suzuki
Designer(s)Toshihiro Nagoshi
Programmer(s)Takuji Masuda
Composer(s)Takenobu Mitsuyoshi
David Leytze
SeriesDaytona USA
Platform(s)Arcade, Sega Saturn, Windows, PlayStation Network, Xbox 360 (XBLA)
  • JP: August 1993(limited release)
  • WW: April 1994
Sega Saturn
  • JP: 1 April 1995
  • NA: 11 May 1995
  • EU: 8 July 1995
  • JP: August 1996
PlayStation Network
  • WW: 25 October 2011
Xbox Live Arcade
  • WW: 26 October 2011
Arcade systemSega Model 2
SoundYamaha YMW258-F (Sega MultiPCM)

Daytona USA[a] is a racing video game developed by Sega AM2 and released by Sega, with a limited release in 1993 followed by a full release in 1994. It was the first Sega game to debut on the Sega Model 2 arcade system board. Daytona USA is a stock car racing game where players race opponents and a clock on one of three tracks, including the Daytona International Speedway. Sega claims it is one of the highest-grossing arcade games of all time.

Inspired by the popularity of NASCAR in the U.S., Daytona USA was developed by Sega AM2 after a meeting of the heads of Sega's regional offices. The game was suggested by Tom Petit, president of Sega Enterprises USA. Sega mandated that the game had to be of a better quality than its competition, Namco's Ridge Racer. Satellite imagery and photography were used to map the Daytona International Speedway, coupled with visual effects of texture filtering, a 60-frames-per second frame rate, and four different camera perspectives.

Daytona USA was a critical and commercial success upon release, being praised for its graphics, soundtrack and sense of realism, and is one of the most successful arcade games of all time. It was met with several ports and remakes for multiple platforms, alongside four sequels. It is cited as an influential game of the genre and one of the best racing games ever made.


In Daytona USA, the player drives a stock car known as the Hornet.[1] The player's objectives are to outrun the competing cars and complete the race before time runs out, passing checkpoints to collect more time.[2] Daytona USA offers multiplayer and up to eight players can compete depending on the number of cabinets linked together. Linked deluxe cabinets may also include a camera pointing towards the drivers seat, linked to a closed-circuit television to show the player on a separate screen.[1]

The standard game was released in a twin-seat cabinet, with a deluxe cabinet also available. A later release also included a single-player only version. The deluxe cabinet was fitted with detailed seats on top of subwoofers; Sega originally planned to use actual car seats, but changed the seats before releasing the game. The game's camera system presented four different view perspectives from which the game can be played. Visually, the game runs at 60 frames per second and presented texture filtering. This gives the visuals a smooth appearance. Additionally the game's physics include realistic driving mechanics, including drifting and power sliding. Three tracks are available for play, including the Daytona International Speedway,[1] which was renamed Three Seven Speedway in later releases.[2]


Daytona USA two player version

In September 1992, Sega announced that it had partnered with GE to create its new arcade system board, the Model 2. Sega executives from its regional offices met to come up with ideas for a game to launch the new board. Its previous board, the Model 1, had debuted with Virtua Racing, and racing games had been successful for Sega before. President of Sega Enterprises USA, Tom Petit, suggested that NASCAR would be an attractive brand to use for a game in the U.S. Despite some negative feedback from Sega Europe's Vic Leslie due to the stronger popularity of Formula One in the region, Sega of Japan executives approved of the concept.[1]

After receiving the approval, Petit and Sega Enterprises USA chief of finance Masahiro Nakagawa began negotiations with representatives of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway for a license. To keep costs lower, Sega decided not to negotiate with NASCAR for a license, and therefore the game did not contain actual sponsors, drivers, or cars. The responsibility for developing the game itself was handed to Sega AM2, a development division headed by Yu Suzuki which had had previous arcade success with several arcade racing games. Toshihiro Nagoshi was assigned as the director and chief designer of the game, while Suzuki served as producer. Sega mandated that Daytona USA had to be of a quality better than that of Ridge Racer, a game made by Namco.[1]

In order to accurately depict Daytona International Speedway for the game, the developers used satellite imagery. Additionally, members of AM2 were sent to photograph the speedway, and Nagoshi walked a full lap to get a feel for the banking in the corners of the track. To make the game more enjoyable, AM2 employed a form of adaptive difficulty where the first lap of each race would measure the skill level of the player and adjust the difficulty of opponents accordingly; for less skilled players, opposing cars open lanes for the player, while higher skilled players have to deal with opponents that block their path.[1]

The soundtrack of Daytona USA was composed by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, who also performed the vocals. For the arcade version, the songs were sampled onto a Yamaha sound chip, including the drums and Mitsuyoshi's voice.[3] Mitsuyoshi has expressed that this was the only way to include vocals in the game's audio due to technical limitations of the Model 2.[1] For the Sega Saturn version, the songs were re-recorded with real instruments and all the lyrics were re-sung for each audio track in the original soundtrack.[3]


Daytona USA was released in Japan in August 1993, and worldwide in March 1994.[1][4] It debuted at the Amusement Machine Show in Tokyo. Petit has suggested that the delayed worldwide launch was done intentionally so that Sega could measure how well accepted the game was before investing in a worldwide launch. At its launch, Daytona USA was very successful. It debuted at number two on RePlay's "Player's Choice" chart and stayed on the list for five years, with 16 months in the number one position. Two years after the initial launch, Sega released a single-player version of the game.[1]

Daytona USA has been ported and re-released several times. At the beginning of 1995, Sega AM2's Sega Saturn division was split into three sub-departments, each one charged with porting a different arcade game to the Saturn: Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Cop, and Daytona USA. Due to unexpectedly slow progress in the Daytona USA port, a number of members of the Virtua Fighter 2 team were reassigned to Daytona USA.[5][6] AM2 completed the port in April 1995;[5][7] it was a Western launch game for Saturn,[8][9] and was released for Windows.[10] Daytona USA was re-released in 1996 in arcades as Daytona USA: Special Edition. It was designed to be a smaller, more affordable cabinet than the original.[11] An enhanced version was released in the arcades in 2010 as Sega Racing Classic.[12] Another enhanced port that was faithful to the original arcade version was released on PlayStation Network on 25 October 2011[13] and Xbox Live Arcade on the following day.[13] The Xbox 360 version was made backwards compatible with Xbox One on 21 March 2017.[14]

Several remakes and sequels of Daytona USA have also been created. Daytona USA: Championship Circuit Edition, a reworked and extended version of Daytona USA, was released in 1996 for the Saturn.[15] This version was completed through use of a modified version of the game engine used for Sega Rally Championship.[16] Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge, an arcade-exclusive sequel utilizing the Sega Model 3 hardware, was released in 1998.[17] Daytona USA 2001, a remake of Daytona USA and Championship Circuit Edition, was released in 2001 for the Dreamcast. This version features graphics upgrades, online multiplayer, and new courses.[18] Daytona Championship USA, also referred to as Daytona 3, was displayed in late 2016 as an arcade exclusive and Sega's first new Daytona arcade game in 18 years.[19]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Review scores
PublicationScore B[20]
AllGame(Arcade) 4/5 stars[21]
(Saturn) 3/5 stars[22]
(PC) 2.5/5 stars[23]
CVG(Arcade) 96%[24]
(Saturn) 96%[25]
Edge(Saturn) 8 / 10[26]
EGM(Saturn) 15.5 / 20[27]
Eurogamer(XBLA) 9 / 10[2]
Famitsu(Saturn) 30 / 40[28]
(Saturn) 8 / 10[29]
(Saturn) 9 / 10[30]
GameFan(Saturn) 264 / 300[31]
GamePro(Saturn) 4.5 / 5[32]
GamesMaster(Saturn) 84%[33]
GamesRadar+(PSN/XBLA) 4.5/5 stars[34]
Next Generation4/5 stars[35]
OPM (UK)(PSN) 8 / 10[36]
OXM (UK)(XBLA) 9 / 10[37]
Games World(Saturn) 94%[38]
Maximum(Saturn) 5/5 stars[39]
Mean Machines(Saturn) 96%[40]
PC Team(PC) 86%[41]
Player One(Saturn) 95%[42]
Sega Pro(Saturn) 94%[43]
Sega Saturn Magazine(Saturn) 5/5 stars[44]

Daytona USA was highly popular in arcades, and the twin cabinet was one of three 1995 recipients of the American Amusement Machine Association's Diamond Awards, which are based strictly on sales achievements.[45] In a 2002 report, Sega reported it to be one of the most successful arcade games of all time.[46]

The original arcade version was critically acclaimed. It received a score of 96% from Computer and Video Games magazine in 1994.[24] Bob Strauss of Entertainment Weekly gave the game an A and wrote that "Picture yourself watching a sci-fi movie, set in a futuristic arcade, that involves a dizzying car race. 'Wow!' you can imagine saying to yourself, 'How did they do those special effects?' You'll have the same reaction while enjoying Daytona USA."[47] Anthony Baize of AllGame gave the arcade game a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.[21] In a 2015 retrospective, IGN's Luke Reilly stated that it "remains a shining example of arcade racing done oh so right."[48]

On release of the console port, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Sega Saturn version of the game a 30 out of 40,[28] before giving it first an 8 out of 10[29] and later a 9 out of 10 in their Reader Cross Review.[30] The two sports reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Saturn version scores of 8 and 7.5 out of 10, noting some problems with the frame rate and animation but declaring it an overall good conversion. One of the reviewers particularly applauded Sega of America for taking the time to polish up the North American version so that it plays better than the rushed Japanese version.[27] GamePro praised the addition of Saturn mode and mirror mode and the strong gameplay of the core game. They concluded that "Daytona pales in comparison with Ridge Racer for the Japanese PlayStation, which takes an early lead with better features, gameplay, and graphics. ... Regardless, Daytona's intense gameplay and breathtaking graphics will exhilarate any racing fan."[32] Maximum commented on the Saturn version's low-resolution texture mapping, clipping, large borders (in the PAL release), and lack of multiplayer, but clarified the unimportance of those factors and applauded the challenging track design and realistic game mechanics, particularly mentioning the impact of wind resistance, and gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[39] Sega Saturn Magazine also gave the Saturn version 5 out of 5 stars, saying that the game is graphically impressive aside from the pop up and has strong arcade-style gameplay.[44] Next Generation reviewed the Saturn version of the game, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "While Daytona USA suffers from an accumulation of weaknesses, if it's a fast, thrilling racing game you're after, the Saturn conversion has a great deal to recommend."[35]

Justin Towell of GamesRadar+ gave the HD re-release a score of 9/10, writing that "Daytona USA is a joyous, jubilant celebration of everything that made arcade games so exciting" and calling the survival mode "a brilliant test of memory, logic and dexterity."[34] Eurogamer's Martin Robinson also gave the game a 9/10, explaining that "age doesn't seem to have ravaged Daytona USA's core" and noting that it serves as "a fitting epitaph to the genre."[2]

Edge ranked the game number 70 on its list of "The 100 Best Games To Play Today" in 2009, stating that, "A pure expression of arcade racing, Daytona USA hasn't lost its capacity to entertain on every level."[49] It has also been listed as one of the best games of all time by Next Generation in 1996,[50] Computer and Video Games in 2000,[51] Killer List of Videogames,[52] Yahoo! in 2005,[53] Guinness World Records in 2008,[54] Empire in 2009,[55] NowGamer in 2010,[56] and Electronic Gaming Monthly in 1997,[57][58] 2001[59] and 2006.[60] In 2015, the game appeared on IGN's list of The Top 10 Most Influential Racing Games Ever, ranked at number six. According to writer Luke Reilly, it is "perhaps the most recognisable arcade racing game of all time and the highest-grossing sit-down cabinet ever," with machines "still resting proudly in arcades and bowling alleys the world over". He noted that, while Ridge Racer also featured texture mapping and "certainly enjoyed the better home release conversion," Daytona USA’s "eight-player action made it king of the arcade."[48]


  1. ^ Japanese: デイトナ USA Hepburn: Deitona USA?


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