It’s fair to say that a lot of games have come across the Arcade Attack radar over the last few years that haven’t yet been reviewed. We’ve managed to tick off one of the most sought after on the list, finally appearing thanks to our Keith. Daytona USA 2001 is the much hyped, some might say overpriced, version of Daytona DC owners wanted to see. A full seven/eight years after the release of the arcade machine and SEGA still hadn’t got it quite right.
There’s lots to like about Daytona USA 2001. It feels like a console package as opposed to just an arcade port. There’s more options than you can shake a gear stick at, including the much awaited championship mode. Multiple cars await your choice, including the beloved Hornet. In addition to the tracks from the original arcade machine and circuit edition there are three more. These are Mermaid Lake (although I saw no mermaids), Circuit Pixie (no pixies as far as I could tell) and Rin Rin Rin Rin Rink (I might have accidentally added some extra Rins there).
The game looks amazing. The slick presentation (although slightly British-ed and made more politically correct – you’ll see what I mean) is still positively Daytona. Lovers of the arcade cab will instantly recognise the curves of the Three Seven Speedway in the intro sequence. And then the action starts.
For all its positives, this still isn’t an arcade-perfect version of Daytona. Although the in-game graphics are of a high quality for the DC, it isn’t as smooth as the cab. In fact, it isn’t as smooth as a lot of racers out on the DC – Sega Rally 2 and MSR to name but two. The new tracks don’t really add anything to the package. I joke about the lack of pixies but Circuit Pixie is just an oval track that lacks the personality of the Three Seven Speedway. Mermaid lake is a simple eight shape whilst Rin Rin Rink (which is my favourite of the three) is just a few long straights and some easy to navigate curves. They feel bland and tacked on. I’m not expecting Mario Kart-esque creativity here but give me a break. I want to say Infogrames and Amusement Vision (a former SEGA R&D dept) weren’t solely to blame for this under-cooking but my head says otherwise. If you gave this to SEGA and AM2 a much better package would have been born (baked?).
And then the nail in the coffin for Daytona USA, the handling. I wanted to believe the stories weren’t true, that by holding the analogue stick upwards whilst slowly rotating it left and right it would give me the control I desired. I was wrong. The game doesn’t work with a standard DC pad because the movements are exaggerated. Minimal nudges of the stick will see your Hornet attempt to drift even the slightest of bends. If you’ve got a racing wheel your experience will be better but still unlike the cab. The physics don’t feel the same. The way the car sits on the track, the way it sticks (or doesn’t stick) to corners, the lousy acceleration off the line, the way the time extended notification hangs around too long on the screen obscuring your view, it all feels off. Talking of the view, the slightly set-back camera view which was the default on the cab has now gone. You can either sit on the exhaust pipe or pretend you’re a chasing pigeon. Not a great choice.
One of the main selling points of the game (bar it being Daytona of course) was the online capabilities which are of course now defunct. In fact, due to a hitch at SEGA and network ownership issues with AT&T, the servers were (accidentally) taken down permanently not long after the game’s release, which really sums it all up.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see Daytona on the DC and it does have its good points. The sound score is pretty much all intact although I’m not sure what version of Taka Mitsuyoshi’s tracks they used, they don’t sound quite on par with the Saturn tracks in my eyes. The handling issues undermine any good work done here by Amusement Vision.
It’s still worth checking out to see a bit of history but you’ll soon be reaching for MSR, SR2, SEGA GT etc…