Daytona USA 2001 (デイトナUSA2001)

Chances are is that if you visited the arcades in the nineties you most likely came across a game with such enthralling visuals and sensation of speed that you had to have a sit down and start you engine. That's because Daytona USA was one of the most popular games or the time and is one of the highest grossing arcade titles of all time.

A racing title like no other the game featured some of the most genuinely memorable racing tracks, driving mechanics and multiplayer action ever to be experienced in a video game. As a kid, I was blown away by the fantastic sound and visuals and there was nothing like coming across a set of Daytona cabinets all linked up together and racing against your mates. The feel of the force-feedback steering wheel was truly revolutionary and gave you a real sensation of driving with bumps on the road, tight curves that brought increased g-forces, and crashes into other vehicles.

Yet, despite Daytona's popularity in the arcades its home release never really enjoyed the same amount of success, no doubt due to the fact that the port was crippled by rushed production as well as the processing limitations of the Sega Saturn with gamers complaining of terrible pop-up, and flawed driving mechanics.

Sega went back to the drawing board and released a semi-sequel in the shape of, Daytona USA 2001 on the Dreamcast. Being on  next generation hardware there were high hopes for the game and gamers wondered if they were finally going to be able to enjoy a perfect conversation of the arcade classic. While the game is not a direct conversation of the original title (hence the 2001 moniker) it is largely the same experience. There are the usual modes to play through, single race, championship, time attack, and a versus mode. As you'd expect, championship mode takes up the main portion of the game which just like the arcade places you against a massive 19 CPU controlled cars in a series of races. Most impressively,  Daytona USA 2001 on the Dreamcast never drops below 60 frames per second no matter how much scenery appears on screen at any given time.

The gameplay is just as like original; fast paced, energetic and a lot of fun. You have to watch out for AI which tends to be a bit of a git trying bump you for position when you attempt to take the lead. There are four view points to play around with; rear view, birds-eye view, driver's view , and front view. Each viewpoint has its own advantages and disadvantages for example, the driver's view allows the player to look further ahead from a level vantage point while the birds-eye view affords the player a wider field of vision. Everything looks and feels great, cars are well-detailed, and the tracks have undergone a large amount of improvement.

Powersliding is still so-so awesome

Another welcome addition to the 2001 release, well if it still was 2001, was the Online Vs. mode were you could show off your Daytona skills online but as the online servers are down now the mode is resulted to nothing more than a menu screen. Still, there is a split screen mode for 2 players to satisfy your multiplayer needs.

There are a couple of niggling issues with the game such as the new arranged version soundtrack which while functional doesn't quite live up to the original. Also, although the Dreamcast controller is well-mapped for Daytona USA 2001 with the four buttons each configured to a gear, and the left and right shoulder pads are for the gas and brake, the joystick is somewhat  overly-sensitive and takes a lot of practice to get it used to. The situation is somewhat improved and  with a steering wheel although unfortunately the Dreamcast wheels lack force-feedback that made the original such a great game. The Japanese version also lacks the option to be able to adjust the analogue sensitivity which is included in the US and PAL versions which may improve things. Finally, while the presentation in the game is great, with all the typically sparkly Sega menus and blue skies, there is just something about the look of the cars being just a little bit too sparkly which I didn't take to.

Daytona 2001 is just one of those games that brings a smile to your face!

If you had fun playing Daytona USA back in the day, and forgive the fact this game is not a direct conversion of the original then I can’t see any reason not to recommend this version. I like the direction Sega went with this game which I much prefer over Daytona 2, and any racing game, however esteemed its lineage, is going to have a tough time getting noticed with competition from the likes of Sega Rally 2, Metropolis Street Racer and F355 Challenge. Yet, Daytona USA 2001 still remains relevant enough to warrant a purchase and is a welcome addition to the Dreamcast library.