Who can forget the first time they heard those magical lyrics, ’Rolling Start!’? Honestly, growing up in arcades probably scarred my perspective on today’s games in some fashion, but when a stupid song from a cabinet machine still lingers with me to this day, it must have done something right. Sega has been on a roll lately, bringing back classic arcade games from yesteryear. What better way to keep things moving than with the original arcade racer, Daytona USA. Revisiting classics has become standard fare in the gaming industry, but if they all turn out like this, then please continue to sign me up.
There is a reason people still cling to this game nearly two decades after its release. The mechanics are solid, the drifting is impeccable and, oh man, those songs. Seriously, this is the stuff that adolescence was made of for those of the geek persuasion: hopping into the large cabinet and mastering the turns of three increasingly difficult courses without any incentive at all other than showing off in front of others. Gamer are spoiled nowadays. Have I mentioned that lately?
Bluepoint Games has spiced up this gem to look exactly how you remember it, complete with blocky, oversized cars and fountains of color. Each of the three tracks carries distinct landmarks such as the slot machine and, of course, the Jeffrey statue, but their twists and turns are the real stars. Daytona is one of those games that require utmost precision and gas management to get the best times. Sure, you can win with sloppy driving, but I want to beat your time by that miniscule .01 seconds just to say I did it.
With this port, you aren’t getting much in the form of extras. There are mirrored tracks and challenges, but none of them really draw you in. The Karaoke mode is, by far, the most peculiar as it literally just lets you drive the course while the words to the overly cheesy songs scroll across the bottom of the screen. We were already singing them, but this mode truly accents the insanity of attachment we have with these ridiculous tunes.
You can hop online to race with friends, but strangely, the local co-op is extinct. It’s not surprising because, for some reason, Daytona just feels wrong in split screen, but it is still missed. For those loving Achievements and Trophies, you are in luck here. You can nab all of them in one sitting if you put your mind to it. This is one of the easiest sets of virtual rewards I have seen since Avatar.
Visually, the game has seen some massive cleanup that you will unlikely notice unless you played the original in the past twelve months. Pop-up has been all but eliminated, and the frame rate issues have been severely toned down. This game flies, and the colors fill the screen causing massive bouts of smiling and joy. Then, you factor in the incredible soundtrack, and you can sing along and go back to a simpler time when games were supposed to just be fun. My nostalgia meter is off the charts here, but this is Daytona, so I don’t mind.
Daytona USA is a fun romp for fans of the original. It reminds us that games didn’t need laundry lists of features to be infinitely replayable. You simply have to capture that five minutes of fun and be able to repeat it, and Daytona does that perfectly. Sure, it won’t make you forget about Forza or Burnout anytime soon, but try not to have a blast with Daytona. If you can manage to hear the Sky High song and not smile, I truly believe all hope is lost. This is a must-own for classic Sega fans and a great addition to the growing remake library.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.