Playing Daytona USA in the arcades at the Boardwalk is one of my earliest childhood memories of an arcade game (well, that and playing The Simpsons Arcade Game at Chuck E. Cheese), so I was pretty excited when I heard that it was coming to XBLA. Does the game hold up now, or is it another one of those titles best left to nostalgic memories?
Daytona USA is a very simplistic racing game. I’m serious; it makes Burnout look like 1st Edition D&D. There is no boost, no takedowns, bonus objectives or powerups. Just you, a few other cars, and the race for first place. The graphics are changed very little from the original arcade game, however this isn’t a huge disappointment because seeing everything blown up in HD looks crisp and colorful. It isn’t a graphical overhaul like some XBLA remakes, but it isn’t a sloppy port either.
In addition to the standard racing mode from the arcade game, players can choose a few other modes like Time Trials, a Survival mode in which your car degrades over time and must make a pit stop, and a Karaoke mode in which you race by yourself while the lyrics to the game’s hilariously over-the-top soundtrack pop up at the bottom of the screen. There is also an online multiplayer component that worked surprisingly smoothly despite my crappy internet connection.
While there are a fair amount of modes to try out, they all pretty much boil down to the same thing: choose from one of two cars (one automatic transmission, the other manual) and race around one of the game’s three tracks. Despite Daytona USA‘s solid controls, this did get old pretty fast.
Daytona USA is a perfect re-release of the popular arcade title, although it is a little disappointing how little there is to it. Even an option to recolor your car a la Virtual-On might’ve been fun for awhile. So, if you really love Daytona USA and aren’t looking for anything other than Daytona USA, I’d say it’s pretty worthwhile. Try the demo first, though. If you find yourself getting bored already, you’re probably better off elsewhere.
Daytona USA: Second Opinion
By Critical Kate
Gamers who weren’t around in the early to mid 90s might not realize it from the somewhat plain graphics, but when Daytona USA was introduced in 1994, it was one of the most visually stunning arcades around. It was the first racing game to take the 3D polygonal graphics of Hard Drivin’ and Virtua Racing, and add texture-mapping—a concept that seems so simple now, but the result was such a pronounced visual difference to any other polygon-based games that existed at the time, that it almost seemed like watching videogames skip a generation graphically. The game looked so striking, arcade parlors were able to charge up to $1 per play, and people would actually pay it.
When put in that perspective, $10 for unlimited plays is practically a steal! But will the somewhat dated gameplay hold your interest for more than ten plays, even when mixed with nostalgia? That’s entirely up to you to decide. As James suggested, I recommend trying the demo first.