Monday, 26 June 2017

Arcade Review! - Daytona Championship USA

Hi all, Ted here once again! At the time of writing this, it's been 3 weeks since I was in the seaside town of Whitby, one of my favourites. Surprisingly, I have never been in the arcades there, and I rectified this on this visit. It was nothing to write home about, there were some nice classics in Funland, like Sega Rally 1 & 2, After Burner Climax, and a deluxe Time Crisis 2.

But there was one game I knew was there, by a complete stroke of luck- Daytona Championship USA!
Announced by the Sega arcade division's Twitter a day before I went, I was ecstatic when first saw it. The first new Daytona in the UK and it's where I was about to go on holiday, what were the chances! Needless to say, I played on it as much as I could, and I have prepared a review as such.

Daytona Championship USA (Sega, 2017) Review

Dayytonaaaaa! What is there to say? Sega's Daytona USA is one of the most prolific arcade games of all time- that still has many fans thanks to it's gameplay and graphics that have stood the test of time incredibly well. So when a new game was announced in late 2017, the hype was understandably very big.

However, once the game started appearing at arcade expo's, cracks were beginning to show. 2 of the 3 new tracks were just reskinned mirrors of the original courses, and the majority of music was from the Dreamcast port of the game- not to mention the up-down gear shifter. Some hardcore fans gave it scathing reviews but there was still hope.

Daytona Championship USA is a... Average game, especially compared to the games that came before it. But in the current arcade times, its a blessing, to be honest.

Addmittedly, you immediately get the feeling of the old Daytona from the attract mode- there's a beautiful new version of Let's Go Away blaring out of the speakers, there's that classic Daytona font, and the signature Sega blue skies are there.

The graphics are nothing special. They're nice, the blue skies have never looked better and the new cars are brilliantly detailed with all the sponsorship logos. It looks damn fine for an arcade game, but the wow factor the original had at the time isn't there in this game.

There is a selection of 6 courses to choose from, 3 of which are remodeled tracks from the original. They are all faithfully remade with each trackside detail included, in fact the mountain side Sonic is of course now the modern design! And not just some flat texture, he's fully polygonized- and his modern design too!


The new Beginner course, Daytona International Speedway, is a simple oval course based off of the real Daytona speedway. We have a complete new recording of Let's Go Away accompanying it, and Takenobu Mitsuyoshi's vocals never fails to impress me. I did think this course was a little drab and unexciting though, isn't Daytona about fantasy locations and unrealistic tracks?

The new Advanced course, Lakeside Castle, is just a mirror of Dinosaur Canyon which is pretty disappointing when we were promised 'new' courses. Come on Sega, it's not that hard to design a track! That being said, this course does look quite pretty, with fireworks going off in the background and the whole thing being somewhat of a Sega Rally reference.

Finally, the new Advanced course, Metro City, is pretty much the same story as above, it's a mirrored Seaside Street Galaxy, which is a massive shame. There's some nice eye candy thorough the course though I guess...

Instead of only being able to have a quick race on one circuit, there is now the 'Championship' mode, where of course you go from track to track. Well, not really. Unfortunately, you have to place first and only first to advance to the next track which isn't very easy, as you could imagine, so it's kind of pointless unless you're really really good at the game.

One feature sadly gone (at least in most cabinets) from the first Daytona is the H-shifter, in its place is a up-down shifter. This makes power sliding trickier to pull off, which I am not a fan of with manual transmission being my usual way of playing it.

In response Sega have said arcade operators can choose to have a 4 gear shifter, but none of the cabinets that have shown up so far have got them. I do supposed using a up-down shifter does prolong the game's playability in the long run though, as a fair amount of Daytona cabs I come across now have damaged gear boxes.
The attention to detail is nice and you do get a feel that the team working on the game had at least some appreciation for the original. The little jingles from old Sega games can still be heard when entering them at the name entry screen, the Jeffery statue trick still works, and Pounding Pavement can be selected from the V.R buttons. There is even some references to Sega's past on track sponsor boards like this 'To be this good takes AGES' slogan. It's stuff like this that makes the game just that bit nicer.

Lastly I must mention the good design of the actual machine. Looking at it in pictures, I have to say I didn't like it, but in person it's a lot better. The engine underneath the seat is a nice touch, and the control panel is almost a replica of the original deluxe cabs of Daytona. While I thought they were ugly and unnecessary at first I do quite like the screens on the marquee's, and they can be used to arrange tournaments as well in the new 'Party Mode'.

So, finally, Daytona Championship USA is... fairly average. What's here is a little soulless and uninspired, plus the gameplay isn't quite right, but there is some nice aspects like the little easter eggs, the good design of the cab, and well, just the fact that it's back in arcades.

And this could've ended up way worse knowing Sega, and what we have is at least okay in this day and age, especially for a modern arcade game- at least it's not another port of a console game like GRID! Overall, I give Daytona Championship USA a 6/10.

(Apologies for the lack of posts recently. Been stuck on ideas for stuff to put on here. Don't be surprised if this happens again. But I do have a couple of things coming up in the next week, so stay tuned. See ya.)


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