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Daytona USA Review
Posted on Monday, November 14 2011 @ 10:48:56 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
[Note: If GR reviews this, I'll most likely just copy and paste this onto member reviews, but since there's no review for it: it's going in here.  Enjoy!]

If you've ever stepped into an arcade before, you have seen the towering structures of eight, lined up like a starting line ready for the green flag to wave.  Daytona USA has been the king of speed for decades in the arcades, with multiple iterations spanned across arcades and consoles alike.  Now the popular racer has traveled its way onto the XBox 360 and the Playstation 3, looking to re-capture its former glory in HD.  Will the racer be able to keep up with the pack or burn out?

Daytona USA was Yu Susuki's racing gem in the 1990's, making an easy to pick up racer with unlimited replayability, shrouded with clutch moments that engrossed players into a, "just one more race" mentatlity.  As the driver of the #41 Hornet, players duke it out in three different courses, facing computer racers, battling for the top spot in victory lane.  Drivers can choose between automatic or manual transmission, with the manual transmission granted a higher top speed with the added difficulty, benefiting the drivers who are willing to do extra to get that faster lap time.  Sadly, these are the only choices in vehicles, as Daytona USA: Championship Edition added more vehicles in the later years.

The feel of top speed racing is portrayed well in the transition to current gen consoles.  Daytona's gameplay features a very tight but frantic driving style, allowing expert drivers to pull off drifts on hairpin turns while maintaining fast speeds.  Beginner drivers may find themselves all over the road since most racing titles have some implemented driver assist, so learning the proper speed during turns is crucial to success.

Daytona USA's graphics recieved a proper uphaul from its Sega Saturn days.  Though the signature blocky racecars remain in the game, the tracks are detailed and smooth.  With the graphical uplift, the HD textures on the game engine prove to be too much at times, with pop-in being a continual problem while racing.  Daytona's Expert course has the most pop-in issues, with most of the track around the first lap popping in during the race, having new racers get confused on where to go having the track suddenly emerge in front of them.  With the Expert course being as technically challenging as it is, most racers having issues with the pop-in may avoid this track at all costs.

In addition to the Arcade Mode, Daytona USA includes a series of game modes to extend the racing experience.  Time Trial mode has drivers racing to complete the fastest time across one of the three stages, posting their times on the leaderboard for top bragging rights.  Challenge Mode pits drivers in specific objectives on each stage to test driver's skills on the track.  Challenges include reaching a top speed on automatic or manual transmission, to finishing a number of laps before time runs out.  Elimination Mode has a drivers completing a marathon of laps, while slowly increasing a barometer until time runs out.  Performing stunts like taking a turn without applying brakes or passing other vehicles add time extensions so drivers can fill the barometer to the highest possible.  Karoke Mode is one of the more interesting, yet confusing modes in Daytona USA.  Players can sing along to the tunes of Daytona while driving to their favorite courses.  It's a funny, yet trivial mode that most players will try once and leave behind.

What most players will invest their time in is the new Online Multiplayer.  Drivers can duke it out in up to eight player races will fully customizable playlists.  Players can restrict which transmissions are used, to if AI vehicles drive the track or not, to mirroring the course.  Online multiplayer is a great amount of fun, though Daytona's fanbase is small as of its release, so finding an eight player lobby without prior get-togethers will be slim and none.  Also, surprisingly there is no local multiplayer, which I feel should be a staple in the franchise and should have never been left out.

Fans of Daytona will feel right at home with the HD re-release, but structural pop-in and its different driving mechanics may outcast newcomers to investing time in the classic racer.  But for what has made Daytona a classic title in the past still resonates today as a fun, fast, and cheap pickup for many to enjoy.

Final Grade: B-
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