REVIEW – Daytona USA (XBLA)

It’s An Arcade Game

This classic “rolling start” racer will bring back arcade nostalgia but will not retain the attention span of the modern gamer for long.

Daytona USA will take you back to a time before the realism of Forza and Gran Turismo became the industry standard.  In a way, Daytona USA was the foresight for these current gen games with tires that loose grip, cars that dent as you take damage and featuring basic drifting techniques but when the player only has three tracks and two cars to select from (manual or automatic), it isn’t hard to see that this game is better suited munching quarters.

Some new features have been added like the ability to rewind time in arcade mode, leaderboards, online multiplayer, and a challenge mode that provides a specific task like completing a lap before time runs out or finishing without bumping into a wall.  As enticing as these additions sound, players will experience everything in the game has to offer in about one hour of play. And Achievement hunters should take note as I was able to unlock all 200 gamerscore in this first hour; not that this is seen negatively, just short lived.

Besides being a great example of how arcade game design is much different than home console game design, Daytona USA also has a few ideas that sound good on paper but are not executed well.  Steering requires a learning curve and controlling either of the game’s available vehicles will feel like you a driving a buttered hovercraft after one lap. Pit stops to repair your car might seem like an interesting mechanic but the AI will never stop; stopping for a tire change will drop you to the back of the pack. Karaoke mode, which displays the soundtrack’s lyrics on screen so you can sing along, is pretty much useless.  The game works with steering wheel peripherals so this Karaoke mode almost seems like a missed Kinect opportunity.

Back in the 90’s, Daytona USA, with its brightly color graphics and quirky soundtrack, kept arcade players in the fast lane.  But when played today in a home console setting, it has fallen to the back of the pack after taking a hard turn into a wall.  For 800 space bucks, $10, you can get about an hour of quality entertainment, 200 gamerscore, and an arcade history lesson.  Or, you could spend the same amount of money at your local GameWorks and experience the game how it should be played – in a loud arcade, with linked units and with force feedback seats.

 

Easier Than: trying to find a GameWorks

Also Try: the Dreamcast version

Wait For It: Chu Chu Rocket

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and SquallSnake.com

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