One of my earliest racing experience was sitting in the arcade playing Daytona USA. There was nothing at the time that replicated the experience it provided – sitting in the cabinet with wheel, peddles and stick, with speakers blasting and brilliant graphics to boot. When I was nine and dreaming of being behind the wheel of a car of my own, Daytona USA was thrilling. There were times where I’d run out of quarters and simply sit in it, shifting and stomping on the pedals and cranking the wheel. The experience was unrivaled at the time.
Daytona USA is an experience best enjoyed at the arcade, which should obviously imply that the recent re-release isn’t the best addition to your library. The main problems with Daytona USA are problems shared by many arcade re-releases: compared to the depth provided by other XBLA games, the scant offerings of an old-school arcade game feel lacking compared to the price tag.
Daytona USA offers players three tracks of varying difficulty to experience, with an option to reverse the course. You can choose if you want manual or automatic transmission, pick the number of laps and set the difficulty. There are also additional challenge modes that players can take on, which ask you to complete certain goals like not hitting walls, attaining certain speeds and the like. But without tracks or vehicles to unlock, I quickly lost interest.
There are some odd additions, too. Karaoke mode is perhaps the strangest, which has you racing as you sing along with the game’s soundtrack. On my first race, the only word sung in the song was “ah” and I was expected to sing along with it for three minutes or so. This may be a nod to Sega fans, but it just isn’t very interesting.
There is multiplayer over Xbox Live, but the game omits local multiplayer, which is a real shame. The Xbox Live play was decent, though it took me quite a few tries to find races to join. And it may seem a little nitpicky, but I hate it when racing games don’t give me an option to restart the current race from the pause menu. Overall, Daytona USA is a lazy port that could have offered players more. In a crowded and competitive marketplace, only those most nostalgic gamers should purchase this. Everyone else will get enough from the demo.