Retro Racing Game Review - Daytona USA (1994)
Fire up the Sega Saturn and the corny arcade music, as we're going away to Daytona, USA...
When I found out Daytona USA was available on PlayStation Now (which lets you play old-gen games on your PS4), I knew I had to play it. Ever since I joined the so-called racing community, people have gone on and on about how great this game was for its time - so I decided to try it out for myself....
WHAT'S ALL THE HYPE ABOUT?
If you're familiar with arcades, then it's more than likely Daytona USA was in there - hidden amongst the 2p machines and basketball hoop challenges. The game is easily identifiable by its infamous soundtrack, composed by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi:
Takes ya right back doesn't it? This was the soundtrack to many afternoons spent putting quarters into the machine, and also the nightmares of arcade employees. I've always said that the soundtrack is a crucial element of the overall game - and Mitsuyoshi's compositions are as iconic as they are cheesy, but this was the 1990s after all...
There is only one car to choose from in the game - the #41 Hornet, which has a striking resemblance to the NASCAR Chevrolet Lumia - which is a little disappointing, but understandable because of the limited technological capabilities in 1994. However, there is a choice of automatic or manual transmission (so that'll please the sim racers!) - which are both easy enough to master. There are three fictional tracks to choose from, ranging in difficulty from easy to hard, as was the norm back then. The aim of the races are simple, overtake all the cars and win the race before the timer runs out. So no overly complicated race scenarios to worry about here.
My only nitpick with this game is that the AI aren't really that smart. They have a tendency to be super-slow on the straights, but through the corners they are immense - no matter how high or low you have the difficulty. Also, they have no recognition of racing space or track limits - so sometimes it can feel like you're at a fucking demolition derby rather than a NASCAR race.
Saying that, 1994 was a much simpler time for video games and NASCAR respectively. Unlike today, where both are overly complicated, under fire constantly from the internet forums and in some cases - losing popularity. On an unrelated note, this video sums up NASCAR's troubles:
I'm so happy that I got to reference a UrinatingTree video in a journalistic article....
With everything that I've covered, plus my own personal experience playing the game - here is my final verdict:
4.25/5. A FANTASTIC GAME FOR CASUAL PLAYERS, AND A TIMELESS CLASSIC TO EDUCATE YOUR CHILDREN WITH.
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Gaming & F1 writer. University student. Sometimes controversial.