Written on: 30/03/2006 by TOMLEECEE (121 reviews written)
A fine update of the original
Lots of challenge
New tracks are a bit dull
Not enough play modes
Maybe a bit too difficult for some
Daytona USA was one of my favourite games when I owned a Saturn. It was a little rough around the edges in the looks stakes, but it was pure joy to play. NASCAR isn't really a sport you would associate with fun. In reality it's nothing more than 40 or so beefed up saloon cars going around an oval track 300 times, which is hardly what I'd call an attention grabber. In fact, given the choice, this gamer would rather watch a wall freshly painted in Dulux slowly dry whilst keeping an eye on the grass just in case it grew a few millimetres. But with Daytona, Sega managed to pry the motor sport away from its tedious, country music listening, beer swilling, redneck roots and transplant it into a brightly coloured fantasy world where the racing is actually exciting.
Daytona 2001 is the third game in Sega's racing magnum opus after the aforementioned original, Daytona USA and the Saturn revision Daytona USA: Championship Circuit Edition (CCE). In the years between Daytona CCE and the emergence of the Dreamcast, the game hasn't really undergone many changes in either the gameplay or options areas. In truth, it all seems a little too familiar. All of the tracks from the original are included: Three Seven Speedway (complete with the infamous 'suddenly-appearing-in-the-Saturn-version' Sonic cliff on the final turn), Dinosaur Canyon, and the devilishly difficult Seaside Street Galaxy. The hit and miss tracks from CCE are also here (the sleep inducing National Park Speedway and the okay-ish Desert City (where is the city?!)), and the final number of circuits is bolstered further by three Dreamcast exclusive tracks - Circuit Pixi (basically another Oval), Mermaid Lake (a figure of eight track with an awesome descent through the cross-over tunnel that reveals the entire circuit before your eyes - with no pop-up whatsoever) and Rin Rin Rink (a fairly mundane track with two bridges).
The addition of the new tracks seems to be nothing more than an afterthought however, as none of them is as legendary (or good to play) as the ones from the original, and to a lesser extent, CCE.
Car handling has changed slightly, with the cars now seeming to turn from the front wheels. This, I believe, has both a negative and positive impact on the way the game feels. It is pretty difficult to get your car around tight corners without forcing a hard-brake induced power slide, but the way the car nudges left and right with the new handling model is far better for smashing opponents out of the way and into a barrier. Speaking of opponents, you do have the choice to limit the number of cars that take part in a race (from 10 to 60 - yes 60!), but generally more cars means it's harder to get to the front of the pack and win a race. But even with the lowest number of other vehicles, Daytona 2001 is HARD. There are time limits in place, but it's the near perfect AI that will have you tearing your hair out as you brake for a hard turn, but the other cars seem to skate around with no variance in speed. A little unfair, but with practice you can minimise the amount of braking you must apply and retain position out of a hard turn.
There aren't that many game modes in Daytona 2001. You get a bog standard Championship, Single Race and Time Attack. You do get the choice of backward, mirrored or backward and mirrored variants of all the tracks, and there are a few different cars to choose from, but my guessing is that because all the others are so dire (slow with good handling/fast with poor handling), you'll just stick to the original blue and red Hornet car (medium speed/medium handling). There is a new paint shop included in Daytona 2001 if you find that none of the default colour settings are to your taste, but it is a little basic and doesn't let you design your own logos, so don't expect Jet Set Radio style creativity levels. The main difference really though, between Daytona 2001 and its forefathers, has got to be the graphics. Sure, you'd expect updated visuals on a console that makes the Saturn look like something Tony Robinson may encounter on Time Team, but Daytona 2001 is a sight to behold. Pop up of scenery is virtually eliminated, and everything looks mightily impressive; much better than the original arcade machines even. The textures are crisp and realistic, and you can tell that every area of the visuals has had lots of time spent on it to get the look just right. The circuits are packed to the rafters with details - from Three Seven Speedway's advertising hoardings and reflective windows on top of the Grandstand, to Dinosaur Canyon's wind turbines and Sega logos cut into the grass on the descent to the penultimate hairpin. It looks simply amazing, and many of the weird glitches from the other games are simply ironed out, although for some reason you still get a reflection of the sky in the back windshield when going through tunnels!
This aside, I repeat that Daytona 2001 is stunning! It is quite possibly one of the best looking games on the Dreamcast. There isn't even any slowdown when the screen is full of action - packs of cars going up in the air, lane cones and signs flying about - excellent stuff. The original soundtrack has been re-mixed and includes the famous "Rolling Staaaart!" and "Blue, blue skies", but it is much more subtle, and about 3000% less embarrassing than in Daytona USA.
The only real disappointment with Daytona 2001 is the distinct lack of game modes. A few Crazy Taxi style mini games wouldn't have gone a miss (maybe a sort of ten pin bowling game, but with a load of rednecks as the pins?), or a few 4 Wheel Thunder style multiplayer modes (rather than just 'race'). The slightly dodgy car handling and insane difficulty (in places) are things that any fan of the originals will be able to live with, so to get to the point - Daytona 2001 is the best version thus far. Xbox 360 version anyone?
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