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Daytona USA Review

Rev up your engines for SEGA’s classic arcade racer Daytona USA. Hitting the PSN and XBLA recently, SEGA brings back one of their most well known arcade games, complete with new gameplay and online capabilities. I took some time with it, both online and off, to reacquaint myself with a game from my youth that is seemingly the same from so long ago.

The game carries with it a number of modes. Primarily there is the Arcade mode, a direct port of the original. Here though players can change up a few of the settings – there is an arcade difficulty and a normal difficulty for both gameplay and the time limit (arcade being the more difficult setting), as well as a mirror mode. The last, but possibly the most important, is the ability to change the lap settings from normal to grand prix and endurance. Increasing the laps means you’ll be in for the long haul, which wouldn’t be so bad if not for the timing and checkpoint system built into the game. Sometimes it’s hard to reach those checkpoints and with up to 80 laps to do, it can get a little hectic. With the higher lap settings in place you can also turn on grip loss which will force you to pit in order to keep going without crashing.

The game also offers some interesting extra modes as well. Challenge is perhaps the most fun, giving you a variety of goals from reaching a goal on the track to passing cars all within a time limit. There is of course the Time Trial mode, a staple of racing games; race against the clock in this mode and have your best time be saved and posted to the online leaderboards. Survival is also included, which is essentially playing the game on the “endurance” lap setting and racing anywhere from 20 laps to 80 laps depending on the track you pick. From my memory, there were unlockable cars on one of the previous SEGA console versions, but I’m not sure if they’ve carried over to this. They were obtained from completing the challenges and survival mode, so for players interested in some better rides you may want to tackle those modes early on.

The last mode, which is also a new addition, is the Karaoke mode. Even after trying it, this one left me scratching my head a little bit. You pick from 1 of 4 songs (yea, there are only 4 to choose from), assign a spot for the lyrics (lower portion, center, hidden), and even decide if you want the car autopiloted, and then you’re off. There is no microphone required, you just sing with the game’s singer. I mean, the music is catchy and all, but this mode just didn’t make much sense to me. At all. Why would I want to sing while I was racing? Or even better, why would I want to sit there and do nothing and sing?

Graphically the game is not anything to write home about. It’s an arcade game from 1993, and while SEGA has re-mastered the graphics with an HD look and widescreen display, I was not tickled by what I saw. Don’t get me wrong, I cannot fault a game that is at this point almost 20 years old, but there is an adage somewhere along the lines of “it’s just a new coat of paint.” The nostalgia is there for the classic arcade setting and gaming, but why didn’t SEGA remix it like they did with Guardian Heroes? What I like most about the game is the music, even when it mercilessly taunts me from the “Game Over” screen. I enjoy the old sounds of the 90’s and especially the arcades of the 90’s and this game does not disappoint.

Verdict

Sadly though, this old racer is a bit tired for my tastes. I liked the gameplay for the first race through each track, but after that it’s the same game with that archaic checkpoint system. And with so few tracks to pick from, not even the 20 or challenges can help, and karaoke will surely not keep my attention. Like I said, it’s fun for a short period but then I felt I had been left wanting more to do with the game.

Note: The Daytona USA review was written based on the PS3 version of the game provided by the publisher.

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