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Daytona USA

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Hasbro Interactive
Media: GD/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Online Multiplayer)
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:

Although Daytona USA serves as a fusion of past Daytona titles rather than an original Dreamcast concoction, Sega has never surpassed the arcade standard so impressively. This answer to the console racing fanatic's prayers boasts higher resolutions and sharper textures than the previous arcade incarnations, all blazing by at 60 frames per second. Tracks instantly draw back as far as the eye can see. Light reflects seamlessly from each car model. ::sniff:: Damn, this is one pretty racer.

Sega's audio team has done some phenomenal work with the engine sounds and tire squeals -- crank up the volume and you'll swear you're really hitting the asphalt -- but the soundtrack might come off as a bit too cheesy for some. The newfound in-game announcer sounds a bit too feminine to really add that gritty edge to the action as well, but it's still an appreciated effort from the developers. One thing's for sure, though: that -Game Over- tune has to be the worst part of the game.


Gameplay:

The rules are pretty straightforward: drive fast, make the turns, and out-maneuver the competition. It's all standard fare, but you'll need lots of practice to learn each car's nuances and how to deal with the curves in every track. You'd better learn how to drive a manual, too.

The game starts you off with 4 available cars and 8 tracks (3 of which are Dreamcast originals); as you clear more tracks and play longer, a handful of secret cars can be unlocked, including a tiny retro machine with a huge-headed alien at the wheel! Some players may not agree with the limited number of tracks available, but considering the amazing amount of detail crammed into each one, this reviewer thinks we should all be grateful for such a complete collection.


Difficulty:

On the hardest setting, seasoned players will find themselves scrambling to hit each checkpoint just as time runs out. On the easiest setting, the computer AI can still burn advanced racers, and those curves ain't getting any smoother on any skill level. Just nail the powerslides and draft enough speed behind other cars to make it to the finish, and you'll experience the ride of your life.

Game Mechanics:

Daytona isn't so widely considered the tightest arcade racing series of all time just because it looks cool. All the fun lies in well-timed drifts, forcing other cars into the wall, and mastery of the ever-so-crucial powerslide to get through those corners at maximum speed. Everything's a breeze on the Dreamcast's analog pad, but only after lowering the sensitivity settings in the Options menu quite a bit. Try playing any track with any car under the default calibration, and get ready to spin out 50 times as you barely graze the controls. What the coders were thinking when they set the defaults here, we'll never know -- but rest assured everything else is smooth as silk.

If you've been waiting for the definitive arcade Daytona experience, look no further. Despite a few shortcomings, it can't be denied that Daytona USA shows off some of Sega's finest effort to date -- so do yourself a favor and pick up a copy soon. With a suggested price tag of about 40 dollars USD, where can you go wrong?


-Ben Monkey, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ben Lewis

Sega Dreamcast Crazy Taxi 2 Sega Dreamcast Worms World Party

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated