Daytona USA

Sega’s hit racing game and part of the new generation of 3D arcade titles. Here we are introduced to texture mapped polygons, an upgrade from the flat shaded graphics from Virtua Racing. Daytona would be in prime competition with Ridge Racer, which was released by Namco.

Tracks

Beginner: A simple track but has 40 opponent cars, this track can get crowded in places. The only track on the game that begins with a rolling start and features a pit in area. There are 8 laps to race in total, but this can be extended to 20 or 40 with the Grand prix or endurance modes.

Advanced: A regaular track but has a couple of sharp turns. ‘Lets Go Away’ is the song that plays for this track, which a portion also plays during the games attract mode. Theres a few hidden messages in this track that appears in the grass during the race.

Expert: The hardest track with frequent sharp turns and a couple of obstickles in the track, Thankfully these don’t affect your cars speed and are mostly for visual effect. Powersldiing is reccomended to get the best lap times.

The tracks would be renamed in later releases after further tracks would be added.

Modes:

These can be set in the options menu (Test mode on the arcade release)

Standard: The default option with 8 laps for the beginner track, 4 for the advanced and two for expert

Grand Prix: Addidtional laps are added which expands the game’s length, with 20 laps for the beginner, 10 for advanced and 5 for the expert. With these laps you will want to use the pit stop to replace the cars tyers.

Endurance: 80 laps for beginner mode, 40 for advanced and 20 for expert mode.

There is also a time attack mode which can be accessed by holding down the 1P Start button on the arcade version whilst choosing transmission.

Releases

Arcade

Where it all started, running on Sega’s Model 2 hardware. This was initially released in 1993, and a updated version came out in 1994 to promote the Sega Saturn version. This version also amended the HUD elements slightly. 3 tracks are present in this version and lcoal multiplayer is avalible by linking the arcade machines together. This version of the game runs at a constant 57fps and a higher resolutiob compared to the Saturn, but lower then the PC version.

Can be emulated using the Nebula Model 2 emulator, or recently MAME. However the Model 2 core is still under development and there has been some improvements to the MAME core.

Daytona USA Arcade had three releases, all of which run on the original Model 2

  • 1993 release that was exclusive to Japan
  • 1994 release that was worldwide that amended the on screen counter display
  • Sega Saturn update that added adverts for the console, for before and after the consoles release (Changeable in the games test mode the Model 2 had no RTC clock)
  • There were a couple of unofficial modifications that were done by a few third party programmers that added RPG like elements to the game, known as GTX edition and To the Maxx

The game was only compatible with the original Model 2 board.

Sega Saturn

The first version that was ported for the home market, this was a rushed port due to wanting to be a Saturn launch title and the difficultly of the Saturn’s hardware for the developers. Also, its no secret that 3D wasn’t the Saturn’s strong point, being built primarily as a 2D sprite scaling system, and Daytona USA being designed for the 3D model 2 arcade board. The music is altered in this version, taking advantage of the red-book CD audio.

There are two game modes, an arcade mode which plays the same as the arcade original, and a Saturn mode which gives the option of selecting a car. Mirror tracks are also selectable for all tracks in the game and a 60 lap endurance mode. This version has no support for multiplayer.

Sega would later release a revised version for the Sega Saturn that corrected a couple of issues that the original port recieved.

Windows

Very similar to the Saturn version, the game is designed to run on Windows 95 but features little graphics acceleration, rending entirely in software mode (on the CPU). The game uses DirectX 2 which limits it to Windows 95, although it will work on later Windows 9x releases, things start to break on more modern systems.

This release is not recommended since a better version was released a few years later, and the limited resolution and graphics settings this game offers. There’s also black bars at the top and bottom which makes it feel like I’m playing an ported PAL game, either that or they thought Daytona PC needed to be cinematic?

Comparison

Arcade version is running in the Nebula Model 2 emulator with default settings, Saturn is running the NTSC build in Retroarch Beetle Saturn, Windows is running in a PCem virtual machine running Windows Me.

Arcade

Saturn

Windows

The home versions remain very faithful to the arcade original when it comes to the menu layout

Car transmission selection

Saturn version has the worst draw distance, to the extent that some background elements don’t appear fully and look like they are floating

Only major difference being the lap time dispay, with other HUD elements remaining consistant.

Conclusion

Daytona USA would go on to become very popular in the arcades thanks to the pioneering 3D graphics technology, despite the high price of the Model 2 hardware. The home ports were not greatly recieved, with the Saturn port having a negative reception in comparision to Ridge Racer, which was also ported from the arcade to the Playstation and was considered a bettrer adaption.

Sega would later release newer home versions of Daytona USA, being the Champtionship edition which helps fix the issues of the initil Saturn port and was ported to the PC shortly after. It was released again for the Sega Dreamcast in 2001 with slightly remastered graphics.

In the arcades, Sega would follow up with Daytona USA 2, being a showcase for the Model 3 platform.

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