Daytona USA (video game)
Daytona USA arcade flyer
1993 (limited release)
|Arcade system||Sega Model 2|
Daytona USA 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. One of the highest grossing arcade games of all time, Daytona USA was Sega's first title to debut on the Sega Model 2 arcade board, and, at the time of its release, was considered the most visually detailed 3D racing game. Compared to the flat-shaded polygons of its predecessor, Virtua Racing, Daytona's 3D-world was fully texture-mapped, giving it a more realistic appearance than the former. Daytona was one of the first video games to feature filtered, texture-mapped polygons, giving it the most detailed graphics yet seen in a video game up until that time. In single-player mode, Daytona maintained a consistent 60fps refresh rate, even with multiple opponents on screen, surpassing the motion smoothness of the only other racing game in a comparable graphical arena, Namco's Ridge Racer.
A slightly updated version of Daytona USA was re-released in arcades in 2010 as Sega Racing Classic.
On October 12, 2011 Sega announced that Daytona USA would be coming to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. This also marked the return of the original name. The game saw its release on October 25 for PlayStation Network, and October 26 for Xbox Live Arcade.
The player is put behind the wheel of a stock car (known as the Hornet), with the choice of three tracks as well as an automatic or manual transmission. The player's objectives are to outrun the competing cars, and complete the race before time runs out.
Daytona USA offers multiplayer and introduced the possibility of linking four twin cabinets or eight deluxe cabinets to create an eight-player competition. 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. Even though the game was released years before the Daytona USA museum (which featured this game in the attraction's arcade) opened next to the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, the International Speedway Corporation had already held the trademark to the name "Daytona USA." Any future game would require a license to use the name Daytona USA.
In 1994 Sega released a revised version of the game which changed the difficulty of computer-controller racing opponents and completely restyled camera motions in the attract mode, pre-race, and victory segments. In 2010, Sega released Sega Racing Classic, essentially the same game running in 720p resolution, and the lyric "Daytona" in the intro & advanced track (Dinosaur Canyon) removed due to licensing issues.
Development of Daytona USA began in May 1993.
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. Development on the port was completed in April 1995.
Home console versions
Daytona USA was ported to the Sega Saturn as a Western launch title in 1995, and to Windows in 1996. The conversion had a somewhat slow frame rate (around 20fps, compared to the arcade version's 60fps), and used 'clipping' to render only the scenery nearest the player.
Daytona USA is compatible with the Arcade Racer steering wheel accessory. It is also compatible with the 3D analog control pad (when switched into analog mode) and the Saturn will detect it as the Arcade Racer steering wheel.
An upgraded version was later released for Sega's Dreamcast console, with notable improvements. Firstly, the graphics had received a massive upgrade, surpassing those of the arcade original. 'Pop-up' had been entirely eliminated, the cars now featured transparent glass and a much higher polygon count, and the game moved at a consistent sixty frames per second. However, this version tends to be criticized for poor controls.
There were now a total of eight tracks, including the original three from the arcade machine, the two additional tracks from the Saturn's Championship Circuit Edition, and a further three that were original to this version. All tracks could also be raced in reversed, mirrored, or mirrored & reversed mode.
The game also features a two-player splitscreen option, with no real noticeable drop in graphic quality, and the ability to race online, though this feature was not included in the European release. The game received generally favorable reviews, with the only serious criticisms being directed at the overly sensitive controls which took some getting used to when played with a game pad. When played with a steering wheel, no such issue existed.
A port that was faithful to the original arcade version was released on PlayStation Network on 25 October 2011 and Xbox Live Arcade on the following day. This version featured true widescreen display, high definition textures, 8-Player Multiplayer over Xbox Live/PlayStation Network, and additional content, such as 30 new challenges, Karaoke mode, and an Arranged soundtrack. The game also offered support for console steering wheels, in addition to Xbox Achievements/PlayStation Trophies for the player to obtain.
The racing team featured in the Daytona USA arcade game and Saturn port is called Team Hornet. Although the team is never explicitly mentioned in the games, their car features an easily recognizable hornet logo stamped on the front of the car.
In the arcade and Sega Saturn versions of Daytona USA, the Hornet car is numbered 41. However, on linked arcade machines, players 1-8 will have cars numbered similarly in multi-player mode for easy identification mid-race.
- The colors of Team Hornet's two selectable cars — automatic or manual transmission — consist of red and blue (automatic), or yellow, red, and black (manual). The cars with manual transmission have a slightly higher top speed than the cars with automatic transmission, a difference of 10 km/h (315 km/h compared to the manual's 325 km/h). The depiction of the Hornet car in the original game resembles both a Chevrolet Beretta and a first generation Chevrolet Lumina, although the former was never entered in NASCAR.
- In the Sega Saturn version of Daytona USA, available cars include the AT and MT original Hornet, but also the first two multiplayer color schemes (Red and Blue, on arcades respectively numbered 1 and 2). Six other cars are unlockable, which numbered from 3 to 8 on the arcade machine: yellow, green, black, pink, cyan and orange. These can be accessed either by placing in first place on both 777 Speedway and Dinosaur Canyon on Normal difficulty, or pressing Down-Right on the D-pad, left trigger (L), right trigger (R), C, and Y buttons on the Saturn game pad at the title screen. The cars are colored differently according to their abilities:
- Black (automatic) and Orange (manual) cars will not slow down when hitting walls.
- Green (automatic) and Pink (manual) cars will crash after hitting a wall, but perform well on grass.
- Light Blue (automatic) and Light Yellow (manual) cars have a high top speed, but have a low level of grip.
- There are also two unlockable horses, the UMAs (each either manual or automatic) to race as. The first horse can be obtained by placing first on all three courses on Normal difficulty; the second is unlocked by placing first on 777 Speedway on Normal difficulty in Endurance mode (i.e. 80 laps as opposed to the standard 8).
- "Let's Go Away" (Attract/Advertise mode; a shortened version of the Dinosaur Canyon course theme)
- "The King Of Speed" (Three Seven Speedway; alternatively known as 'The King of Speed (ROLLING START), or simply 'ROLLING START')
- "Pounding Pavement" (Three Seven Speedway; accessed in the arcade version by holding the VR4 button during the 'GENTLEMEN START YOUR ENGINES', and accessed in the Saturn port by pressing the 'z' button during 'GENTLEMEN START YOUR ENGINES')
- "Let's Go Away" (Attract Mode Music, Dinosaur Canyon)
- "Sky High" (Seaside Street Galaxy; also known as 'Blue, Blue Skies, Blue, Blue Skies I See')
The titles of these songs come from the Daytona USA B-Univ original soundtrack CD - in the Saturn port of Daytona USA, the Sound Test screen also displays names for the various themes.
For the arcade version, Sega synthesized the songs with a Yamaha sound chip, including the drums and Mitsuyoshi's voice. 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.
Reception and legacy
The original arcade version was critically acclaimed. It received a very high score of 96% from Computer and Video Games magazine in 1994. All Game Guide gave the arcade game a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. In a 2015 retrospective, IGN's Luke Reilly stated that it "remains a shining example of arcade racing done oh so right."
On release of the console port, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Sega Saturn version of the game a 30 out of 40, before giving it first an 8 out of 10 and later a 9 out of 10 in their Reader Cross Review. 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. 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." Maximum commented on the Saturn version's low-resolution texture mapping, clipping, large borders (in the PAL release), and lack of multiplayer, before adding that "we'd be doing you a disservice by not mentioning every one of these deficiencies, but the truth of the matter is: it's not that important. Gameplay is what it's all about and in this respect Daytona USA is an unmitigated triumph." [emphasis in original] They 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. 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.
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." Eurogamer 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."
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." It has also been listed as one of the best games of all time by Next Generation in 1996, Computer and Video Games in 2000, Killer List of Videogames, Yahoo in 2005, Guinness World Records in 2008, Empire in 2009, NowGamer in 2010, and Electronic Gaming Monthly in 1997, 2001 and 2006.
In 2015, it 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."
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