I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a retro game re-release as I was when I heard that Sega was bringing Daytona USA to XBox Live. Like many around the world, I spent a lot of weekends during my twenties challenging others in the multiplayer cabinets at Dave & Buster’s and Gameworks and anywhere else I could find the game.
Now the arcade classic is out for XBox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network, graphically updated for the HD era. This review covers the XBLA version, which only set me back 800 Microsoft Points.
Every track, difficulty and mode is here, and they look fantastic. The first thing that struck me is that unlike a lot of other XBLA retro re-releases, the graphical updates didn’t kill the nostalgic feel of the game and only served to enhance it. Every track, difficulty and hidden mode is available; allowing you to race a normal track, mirror mode or time trial if you wish, switch through all the camera angles and everything else.
Even with an XBox controller, I could immediately fire up and play just like I was in the arcade. The timing and feel of the game is spot on and will instantly take you back in time.
The only thing keeping these main racing modes versus the CPU from getting a perfect score is a collision glitch I saw on more than one occasion where a CPU car would ram into a wall and end up driving inside of it rather than bouncing off or crashing. Hopefully this will be fixed with a patch.
Arcade Mode score: 4.5 out of 5.0
I don’t feel these extra modes were really necessary given Daytona USA‘s status as a top tier arcade classic (no, “CAGers”, a game doesn’t have to had come out in the late 70’s or early 80’s to be an arcade classic). Nonetheless, they are there, ranging from the fun and challenging Survival Mode to the utterly pointless Karaoke Mode that only served to provide me an easy 30 Achievement Points.
Fun to play with these extras a little bit, but only in same way that it is nice when they bring you a basket of chips to eat while waiting on your meal at a casual restaurant. It’s not why you came there but you’ll snack on them for a few minutes before moving on to the main course.
Extras Mode score: 4.0 out of 5.0
This is where Daytona USA comes up as a big winner and a loser at the same time. To many fans of the original game the fun of racing against other people was the true draw to playing the game in arcades. To win here this version is going to have to nail this part.
Since Daytona was a smash across the globe, the multiplayer lobbies give players the chance to race against people from all over the world at any given time. I played in one lobby this morning with three Japanese and one Australian player, which was a real treat. The multiplayer modes can be customized as well, giving a good variety to each game and I had zero trouble connecting to a live session. Upon firing up a game, it very much felt the same as the start of a match in the arcade, except for the guy yelling at me over my headset in Japanese.
Where the ball is dropped, however, is where many games fail in multiplayer modes: lag. A lot of lag. In every multiplayer match I tried there would be numerous opposing cars that were lagging as bad as could be. Some would disappear and reappear. Others would appear to be driving in and out of the walls. Still others would suddenly skip ahead several frames as you attempted to pass them by.
I tried numerous sessions and lobbies and found this to be a constant, even against players right here in the US. I have a very speedy connection and do not find the problem as one on this end. Hopefully it’s something Sega can get fixed up or patched or just a temporary problem I had the misfortune of running into while taking notes for this write-up. For now, quite sadly, I have to knock points off the score for the lag issue.
Multiplayer Mode score: 3.0 out of 5.0
Overall, seeing Daytona USA on the screen of my HD living room television set is a huge treat. I’m grateful that Sega provided us this incredible trip back in time and I hope it can be the start of more 1990s arcade hits coming available to me via XBox Live. It serves as a well-priced nostalgia trip that I can see myself returning to again and again just as I did with the timeless arcade version.
If the multiplayer lag issues get fixed or are due to a temporary server issue, the review score will go up. For now, however…
OVERALL SCORE: 11.5 out of 15.0
The author of this review can be reached at http://www.PatrickScottPatterson.com.
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