Saturday, January 15, 2011

Top 10 Things I'd Change About Daytona USA 2

Yes, this is one topic I was thinking up for some time, but let's get this in here now. 

Yes, this is strange cause after looking around this blog, you'd think Daytona could do no wrong...well, that's not true.  After writing my post on problems with Daytona USA for Dreamcast, I thought it might seem a bit unfair that I'm playing favorites with the Sega racing games...  Hey look, I may like these games, but I call them as I see it.  Perfect games don't exist.  You can get as close as you can to perfection, but you can't actually achieve it.  Daytona 2 is one of those games that comes as close to perfection as you can get, mostly because of its theme, sense of speed, soundtrack, and other intangibles.

I'm not going to include content-related things like "add more cars/tracks" or "improve the graphics" because that would be too obvious.  This would normally be classified as a Top 10 list, but these are in no particular order.  Here we go:

1. The visual car damage is a bit ridiculous.  In terms of car "violence," this is probably one of Sega's most brutal titles.  You can tell AM2 was going for the intense, edgy racing experience.  This was before the days of Burnout and I can tell someone will make the comparison, although as I've said before, in Daytona 2, crashes aren't "rewarded" like they are in Burnout so the point is moot.

In a standard race against AI opponents, it's nearly impossible to complete a race without having your hood or trunk come loose, catching air and increasing wind resistance.  Thankfully damage has little to no effect on car performance unless you're in an endurance race.  It's just weird--all it takes is one guy to just swerve towards you and your blemish-free car is trashed.  I think if they toned down the amount of visual damage it would be better since it seems like AM2 got a bit carried away here, trying to make it drastically different from Daytona 1.

2. I think they should have stuck with the Battle on the Edge physics.  When it comes to the Power Edition handling, I feel it's too easy.  The cars' skidpad/downforce ratings are rather forgiving and you can do fairly well in the Chums Gum or Scorpio cars by just "Gran Turismo"-ing it (no drifts, just regular grip cornering).  Don't get me wrong--if you can perform at the top level, then the Phantom is still worth it.  But I feel that Battle on the Edge physics are much more rewarding.

Besides, I felt that Scud Race was slightly harder than Daytona 2: PE so I think a difficulty hike is in order.  However, this is coming from someone who's hardly played Scud Race so what do I know...?

3. Fix the force feedback on the deluxe cabinet during drifts.  This is the deluxe cabinet:

Now, what do I mean...?  Well, when you turn left and right like normal, the cabinet shifts like you're in an actual car.  Cool.  But when you lock the car into a drift, the seat sort of shifts back into the neutral position and just stays there.  Not sure why is does that--give more emphasis on the drifts...

4. Another funny little easter egg that Sega AM2 added is that you can complete a race driving backwards.  Yes, you could do it in Daytona 1/2001/whatever.  Basically, just turn around and complete laps like normal, you'll get time extensions and lap progress although your position will be last.  In Daytona 2001, you unlocked a secret car by finishing a race in reverse so Sega was definitely self-aware...

So you can finish a race driving backwards (or, as the game says, the "wrong way"), but how it goes down is somewhat awkward.  As you drive headfirst into oncoming traffic, your car just sort of rubs off the other cars and you lose a little speed but that's it.  I'm not exactly sure why this is...I guess they were trying to prevent players from cheesing others by driving in reverse...  Whatever, take a look:

I actually did manage to finish a race in reverse this way.  Was rather funny although you had to hang low in the track to avoid as many collisions as possible.

5. Sometimes, the pit chief needs to shut the hell up.  I understand that in Daytona USA 1, your "cowboy" pit chief said the same five things over and over again.  In this game, there's little improvement.  Still sounds robotic in a sense.  The guy's voice is so boisterous, particularly in Power Edition over the radio.  I also love how he says "There's a crash coming out of turn three, watch yourself!!" at the beginning of every Advanced course race, EVEN WHEN YOU'RE PLAYING IN TIME LAP MODE.

Go to 4:37:

6. Better competitive multiplayer?  What I mean is that in Daytona 1, it was possible for players to push each other around.  In Daytona 2, I think they cut down on that so you can hardly impose your will on the other players.  Now I'm not asking for Forza wrecks here where you die just from one little love tap, but come on, if I want to throw a little muscle, let me do it.

I don't really know that much about it since I've hardly played multiplayer.  Though I've won every time that I have, oh yeah.  I'm just listening to opinions from other players here.

7. Make the AI cars more competitive.  It's kind of sad that within a minute of the race, the division between the grid is so vast.  The last place car is going 150 mph, the first place is going 200.  Now I see what Sega was getting at here--using the cars as a "meter stick."  For instance, if you come in 20th one race then 15th in the next, you feel like you've improved.  While the AI cars in Daytona 2 are a lot more aggressive than those in Daytona 1/2001, I felt that they could've upped the ante and make you feel like you're more "on par" with the other cars in terms of performance.

Another thing that's funny is that the AI cars never drift in turns.  Come on, let me see some drifts, people.  Also the ridiculous AI cars just catching on fire doesn't make much sense either--that's another thing there just to be edgy--avoid flaming cars or you'll die!!  I just want the AI to be more "realistic" to make it seem like you're driving among 39 other human players rather than just cookie-cutter would be much more enriching that way.

8. Oh come on, you gotta keep the original Palm Rock Valley course from Battle on the Edge!  It's one of Sega's greatest examples of stunning visuals!  The Power Edition NASCAR course ain't bad though.  It's a tough call but I always tend to err towards scenery porn (lol) so please forgive me.  Maybe an option to choose between the two...?

See the "Wrong Way" video above for Palm Rock Valley footage.

9. Is the Hornet car in Power Edition screwed up, yes or no?  Now, I remember playing as the Hornet in Daytona 2 (it was my first car actually, lol).  It is very easy to drift, but it also felt too jerky.  Now I'm not sure what exactly is the cause.  Sometimes, a cabinet's setup can determine how the control turns out BIG TIME.

I remember one time I was playing San Francisco Rush at a Chuck E. Cheese's a while back and the wheel was so loose that the force feedback made it impossible to play.  Every time I would land from a jump, I would just lose control over the car and crash.  Then I go back a month later and the force feedback is fixed.  Then I proceed to dominate the Expert course with the Corvette Stingray.  So I don't doubt that the hardware can be to blame.

I just want the Hornet to A. more faithfully reproduce the handling from Daytona 1 and B. be competitive with the Daytona 2 cars.

10. This is probably the most unusual problem to remedy.  In some instances in the game, when you're going for WR times, it is more advantageous to smash into the wall rather than to brake like normal.  We saw this in Daytona 1, we saw this in Scud Race, and we see it here.  Go to 1:32:

Clearly, the reason why he wrecks is because it allows him to drive at top speed for a longer period of time.  The car reinstates itself back on the road in a predictable fashion.  Car damage has no repercussions whatsoever so the rest of the lap times are on pace.

Now...what I'm trying to say is that I wish this were never the case.  As long as car damage is only visual, you can't stop people from plowing into the wall.  We also saw something like this in Project Gotham Racing and even in Gran Turismo where it would be more advantageous to use the wall rather than the brakes to slow down.  Anyone who has played Gran Turismo has wall-rided on that sharp turn in Trial Mountain, don't lie...

What can be done to fix this?  Maybe reduce the amount of speed lost by wall contact (and grass for that matter) and make the ensuing grip loss less predictable.  That way wrecks are punishable and aren't a substitute for technical use of the brakes/gear shifter.  I assume this will work, but obviously I don't have my hands on the source code and thus can't mess with it and test it out.

There's no telling that even if you change the source code that there will still be some sort of crash exploit in the first place so I don't know to what extent this can be remedied.


Anyway, now you know about Daytona USA 2.  I told you I'll lay it down on the table for you.  Still a great game, I love it so much, it makes me happy.  Sega, you can improve on an already great game.  And hopefully this'll do it for now since I've wracked my brain enough for now...

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