Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Daytona USA Port Impressions/Review

Final Score: 10/10.  Did you expect anything less??  Well, forget about the number, here my impressions that I'm just throwing out there.

Game looks great in widescreen.  Sweet framerate and awesome colors.  Handles just like the original arcade.  I'm playing this with my regular Xbox controller here and I didn't have any apparent problems with sensitivity.  It's fine as is.  Some of the AI cars have fairly blocky textures but that's just a slight issue at best.

Now about the gameplay.  Well, at first, I was sucking pretty bad.  Took me some time to get used to it.  My best advice for drifting is to keep the brake/lower gear held down for slightly longer than usual until the car kicks out from underneath you.  Then don't be eager to step on the gas again.  Let the car slide without gas/brake held for a little bit until you regain stability.  Like pretty much every Sega racer, I can't just tell you what to do--you'll have to play it a few times to get a hang of it (like I did).  The game also includes a subtle rewind mode (think Forza) for standard Arcade races if you are getting frustrated (access it from the pause screen).

About online play.  Well, I got to play online about seven or eight times, most on Beginner.  There's two "modes," Type A and Type B.  Type A has Catch Up on, Type B does not.  I played on Type A a lot and Beginner races were very intense.  People can nudge each other quite a bit (not like Forza though where the slightest contact means death).  Sometimes you will get smashed against the wall and fall back.  However, with Catch Up on, I got back in the race rather quickly.  Racers were four-wide on the back straightaway!!!  Crazy!!!

 Scene just before the Sonic turn

I got on a little winning streak here on the Beginner course.  You have the worst chance of winning though if you were to wipe out on the final lap, of course.  Early wrecks aren't that big of a deal since you can rebound quite easily just in time to finish.  When playing for real, turn handicap off...Real Players Only!!!

You can also enable AI cars online.  A motorcade of purple 99 cars that basically serve to aid (draft/slipstream) or hinder (rear-end) you.  Your position against the AI is irrelevant--you're only overtaking other XBL players.

I do have four minor complaints about online:

One, you cannot use the Player 1 thru 8 cars in single player.  Heck, when you join the server, you have no choice over what player you are, period (top of the lobby list descending is P1, P2, P3, etc.).  But I'm nitpicky like that.

Second, the other players' cars can jump around due to lag.  This isn't new to racing games but still worth mentioning.  The AI cars don't jump around as much but I've still accidentally collided with them because the lag made them appear farther away than they really were.

Third, there's no option to race tracks backwards (I think so anyway).  You can however race them mirrored (left is right and vice versa).  When playing courses with the Random option selected, I ended up racing mirrored Advance...a huge mind f*** if I ever saw one.  The game still has the options for Endurance races (with tire wear) so that's a plus.  But a two-hour Daytona run...geez, that can get tiring quick.

Last and certainly least, once you press Start in the lobby menu, you can't go back and change your transmission.  Got stuck with AT once and had to live with it.  Yeah, it's stupid, I know.

Then there's three special modes, none of them are that life-changing.  The first is Challenge mode, which is basically thirty Gran Turismo license tests (ten per course).  None of them are super-hard but are a decent way of learning the mechanics of the game.  Stuff like pass cars and keep your speed above a certain level.  If you've played this game before, it's fairly easy to plow through the whole thing in an hour.  Forget the star difficult ratings--the hardest challenge is #7 on Advanced with the 180 downhill turn (your speed can't drop below 140 mph...or maybe I just suck at that particular corner).

There's one thing about the Challenges that's strange.  In #8 of Beginner, the goal is to hit ten cones before the time runs out.  Okay, super-easy.  But the cones are laid along the black strip in the pit lane which means that--yes--the pit stop exploit is back!!!  You're still forced to pit if you don't drive on the strip.  The developers must be aware of this and chose to keep it in.  That's something I disagree with but it's a touchy issue--I know.  Just strange how it works.

Your goal for beating all the Challenges is a sense of pride and a Hornet XBL Gamerpic.  You only need to beat one challenge for the achievement.

Survival is basically an endurance race around a given track with EXTREME tire wear in effect (can't drive more than a few minutes without losing control).  Pass other cars, drive through checkpoints, and do other good things to add more time to the clock.  Fun for some people.  Karaoke is rather pointless.  The words of the song appear on the screen during an free drive session (no AI or timer) and that's it.  King of Speed (Beginner course) is basically a bunch of "Ah"s after the first thirty seconds.  Still good for the laughs.

One more general complaint and I know to some this will sound stupid...but there's not a whole lot of record keeping in this game.  Sure, there's the Time Trial modes for the two cars and three tracks but that's just about the only thing that's recorded.  EDIT: Okay, there's a online leaderboard for "Miles Driven," I must've overlooked it.  I already got 200/200 gamerscore within the first hour of playing so what's to keep someone really glued to this?  A Call of Duty/World of Warcraft-style XP system, that's what!!!

Another thing came to mind.  Since this is the same people that ported After Burner Climax, I was hoping that this game would include more little fun cheats/switches.  Like how about a Daytona To The Max mode with turbo boosts and bigger tires?  Or how about the Horse from the Saturn games?  Oh, this is stupid.

After playing this game for about two hours, I had to stop since my fingers were hurting from all the intense action-packed racing...geez.

So the game is great, but obviously it's a small game.  Reviewers may pass it off as another ho-hum arcade title with little content (although I will boycott any sites that review it less than a 9.9).   It also makes me want a Daytona USA 3/Sega Racing Megamaix even more.  But I don't know.  A lot of people will be very happy with this.  I'll jump into some online races again soon.  That's it, buy this game.  Only ten bucks.  This game should really be worth sixty, but you're lucky it's only ten, ha....


  1. Shoot, just playing ten games in some arcades even today and you've already paid the same amount for this one.

    Yeah, I have to agree the achievements and challenges were too easy, and got everything within a couple of hours. I think I also had a hard time on the same challenge you did. But blast it I wish I had a Gold account, and I don't have a solid connection where I'm at. I also noticed that pit lane exploit, and was also surprised they acknowledged if not encouraged it.

    But the tire wear, holy cow. I was slippin' and slidin' all over the place by Dinosaur Canyon's third lap.

    I'll be honest, my favorite thing about the game isn't the arcade-perfect look, the fine controls, the increased draw distance or the small extras they threw in. It's the new arrange music tracks.

    I have two complaints of my own though. No local multiplayer and forced widescreen if you don't have a widescreen TV. Other than that, I'll be driving my roommates nuts with master Takenobu singing the classic ballad of Daytona.

  2. Well, the pit-stop trick isn't readily apparent. I did manage to do it twice during a regular offline race. No one online has done it although I expect some time-trial pros will do it all eight laps eventually. They figured that it's difficult enough to do consistently that it doesn't matter. I digress but I'm not working for Sega. Yeah...

    The survivor mode with rapid tire wear is a decent idea. Though if it were like OutRun's scoring mode (cleanly passing other cars, doing monster drifts), then it could be better.

    Never noticed the new music tracks. Guess I don't have an ear for those things :S

    Ha, you teach those roommates of yours a lesson. Get a Gold account and play it up...

  3. eric, there is an online leaderboard for multiplayer matches, and it tracks "miles driven" so the top players are how long they played the game!! sweet!!