Daytona USA (1994) Arcade Review

© Sega

I’ll tell you right at the start of this review, Daytona USA is our highest rated and pretty much perfect game we’ve reviewed so far.

Now that that’s out of the way (and if you know the game well, you’re probably in agreement) I’ll explain why this game has never been bettered in the arcades since it first came out in 1994.

As this is the arcade version it’s the ultimate edition for starters. Yes, there was a Sega Saturn version which 20 years ago was nice to have at home but the Saturn couldn’t even begin to replicate the mighty Model 2 arcade board which it wasn’t designed to do anyway and the later version on the Dreamcast, Daytona USA 2001 was nice and shiny and had more tracks including the hilariously named RingRing Ring and more cars.

The only definitive home version is on Xbox Live Arcade so we do recommend getting it.

However, for the purists, there is nothing better than the original steering wheel, buttons and pedals to get you to victory lane and each of the three courses (Beginner, Advanced, and Expert) have their own unique quirks and moments that remain classic to this day.

Beginner is great as you rip along on a rolling start, you get straight into the action whether you’re playing solo or against a human rival, its action all the way.

The 40 car lineup means that you’ve got a lot of ground to cover and the quirks such as hitting the start button when the fruit machine comes up on the open stretch is a nice touch that is fun to get three 7’s in a row before you, hopefully, perform a perfect power slide around the final corner or slam your mate into a wall, either way it joyful.

The advance course though is the fun one to do solo, 20 cars, long turns and then multiple powerslide sections mean that you’ll want to ditch the automatic transmission and get good at manually changing the gears as this is where you’ll get the most out of it as you hurtle along at 325 km/h. The last corner is a pig sometimes but when you get it right it’s sheer perfection and if you’re doing well passerby will watch in awe, something you’ll never get a home.

The expert course is just plain hard, the bridge section is nice to drive along but there are some evil moments on this track and literally, you’d have to still pump quite a lot of coins into the machine to master it.

All of this is done against the clock and apart from the expert course, with a little practice you’ll easily get to the finish on the beginner and advanced courses.

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90 %
95 %
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Classic Factor
100 %