Developer: Sega AM2
North American Release Date: October 25, 2011
Trophies: 1 | 4 | 7
Released in late 2011, Daytona USA is a high-definition port of the classic racing game released in arcades in 1994. You are put into control of a stockcar called the Hornet and able to race across three separate tracks against up to 39 other racers across the world for money, glory, and inclusion into the world hall of fame.
In each race, you are given the option of having automatic or manual transmission for your stockcar. While it may not seem like a big deal, there are several discrepancies between the two modes that can make a difference on the higher difficulty levels. Picking automatic transmission allows the computer to change the gears at a certain speed every times. This allows you to focus more on the race without having to worry about shifting gears. Manual transmission gives you a meter on the top half of the screen with a needle that helps highlight when to shift gears. Being in manual allows you to shift gears sooner then automatic transmission and to also reach a higher final speed.
There are three different tracks in the game with difficulties tied into how easy it is to maneuver around the track. For example, the beginner track resembles an oval with one semi-sharp curve towards the end. Moving up in difficulty is the advanced track, which is much longer and twisted than the beginner course and incorporates several sharp u-turns, blind curves, narrow tracks, and hills. The hardest course, labeled the expert racetrack, is longer then the expert course and includes much of the same but with the addition of multiple sharp right curves in a row.
At the start of a race, the clock in the upper part of the screen will display a certain amount of time. If you have played other racing games, then you know that when that time runs out it’s game over. In order to increase the time on the clock, you will have to pass through checkpoints placed along the track with the sole exception of the beginner course. Each checkpoint adds somewhere between 15-30 seconds to the clock.
One final thing about the gameplay that I found interesting in Daytona USA is the inclusion of vehicular damage. Over the course of a race, you are bound to hit walls, other cars, and fences multiple times. As the race goes on, your stockcar will display this damage over several stages. While the damage to the stockcar does not impact the acceleration, turning, or speed, it is a nice touch.
Take advantage of the Pit Stops to fix the damage to the Hornet
Just like when it was first released to arcades across the world, Daytona USA has an arcade mode made up of three tracks labeled beginner, advanced, and expert. What is new to the PSN edition is a separate options menu that appears when you click on arcade mode. This new menu allows you to customize your races even further with the ability to change the CPU’s driving level, how much time you receive when going through a checkpoint, whether the levels are mirrored tracks, and how many laps each race has.
While arcade mode may seem a little short due to consisting of only three racetracks, there are several other activities that you can do. These other modes consist: Challenge, Karaoke, Time Trial, and Survival. If you are feeling really competitive, you are able to upload your score and times from survival and time trial onto the online scoreboards in order to compare yourself with other players online
If you love this game, challenge mode is probably where you are going to spend most of your time. Challenge mode is split up into three sections of ten challenges, split evenly along each of the three racetracks in the game. In each challenge, you are given a goal to achieve. This goal can range from completing a lap in X time without hitting a wall, maintain a certain speed around a corner, reach a certain speed, and overtake X amount of cars within a time limit.
In survival mode, your goal is to make it the farthest distance possible without running out of time. However, as time progresses, the grip of your tires will slowly erode, causing you to spin out and crash more often. Eventually you will crash too many times to reach the next checkpoint. Time trial is just as it sounds; you pick a racetrack and do anywhere from 8-30 laps in order to get your best time. Karaoke is probably the most bizarre of the extra games. You are allowed to pick a course and a song and you drive around the track while the lyrics to the song are displayed on the bottom of the screen.
While Daytona USA in the arcades may have allowed up to two player races, the port on the PSN allows you to play against up to seven other players only on the course of your choosing. In the multiplayer room, you are allowed to pick between three choices: look for a race already posted, set the conditions of the race you want and then look online for a race that matches, or create your own race. Creating your own match allows you to set several settings including the number of players in the race, which course, and how many laps.
Depending on the difficulty that you set the CPU to, the other drivers can somehow have the magical ability to turn sharp corners at much higher speeds that you can without crashing or slowing down. While on the easier difficulty settings the other drivers may crash and hit walls just like you, eventually there is a point where they are so good that it is impossible for you to turn corners or drift as good as them. This, depending on you frustration, can make the races somewhat annoying.
You can adjust the difficulty of the AI to make the racers more challenging.
The sound effects of the cars, while not comparing to what we have nowadays in racing games, where fantastic when the game first came out and have held up over the last two decades. Skidding into a corner while braking produces semi-realistic (but repetitive) sounds of rubber heating up on concrete, hitting a wall gives a crashing sound, and hitting the orange cones sounds like someone kicked a traffic cone in real life.
The music in Daytona USA is pretty good but on the downside the library of songs in the game is quite small. This small cache of songs, compounded with the fact that many of them sound similar to each other, means that as you race you start to believe you are hearing the same song over and over again.
The trophies are quite easy to get and, with dedication, can all be gotten in less than two hours. If you were like me, then the final trophy you will get will be for hitting a total of 100 orange traffic cones. The trophies that you get for placing 1st in the three arcade mode tracks can be obtained on any difficulty, so if you want to get the trophy on ‘very easy’ mode and then go back on ‘hard’ mode for fun, that’s up to you. However, you will not be able to achieve 100% if you don’t have a connection to the Internet due too ne of the trophies requires you to upload a time trial final time to the scoreboards.
For a game that is almost 20 years old Daytona USA has held up remarkably well compared to HD ports of games of similar age. The graphics might look blocky and pixilated up close and the sound effects and music repetitive, but the gameplay is remarkable solid. The controls to the car are sensitive enough that the car turns when you want it to, but not too sensitive where it would over-steer on a curve and crash into the wall. And while the arcade mode only consists of three courses, the amount of extra games and modes available to do more than makes up for that. This is a great game for anyone who remembers the classic arcade game and the best fact of all: this port doesn’t need quarters.
For a game almost twenty years old (graphics included), the gameplay has held up surprisingly well. It is still the same game I spent roughly 50 dollars on throughout my childhood racing against my friends.
The arcade mode may only consist of three racetracks, but it more then makes up for that with the amount of extra events that you can do.
The multiplayer was basically dead by the time I received the game. It is fun racing against several of your friends that also happen to have this game, but if you try to look for races online against strangers you will be disappointed.
There aren’t really any technical problems with Daytona USA. The sound effects and music may be repetitive, but when you are enjoying yourself, you won’t really notice that much.