IGNpreviews and review of Daytona USA 2001

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Here are several IGN DC previews of Daytona USA 2001, plus their full review.

Behind the Wheel with Daytona DC!!! - IGN
2 OCT 2000


You want racing bliss? You got it. And check out the first direct-feed movie!

BY IGN STAFF Last week, preliminary screenshots surfaced of Sega's Dreamcast conversion of Daytona USA. While the screens were too tiny to make out much detail, we were kinda concerned -- all that we could see were the original arcade tracks, and some skeptics insinuated that the game would be a straight port of the arcade version with no frills, not at all unlike the nasty, nasty conversion of Dynamite Cop.

Fortunately, this has turned out to be completely false. This afternoon, IGNDC got to sit down with a near-complete version of Daytona DC, and what we played made us want to burst out into a rousing chorus of Blue, Blue Skies. Boys and girls, this ain't no four-week port, this is a choice contender for arcade racer of the year.

The game's redone interface gave us access to three courses: the Three Sevens Speedway from the arcade version, the Desert City track from Championship Circuit Edition, and an entirely new course called the "Rin Rin Rink" (a-hem). But wait! Sega wasn't content to just port over the geometry data from the arcade version and leave it at that -- each course has been painstakingly rebuilt, retextured, and loaded up with more details than ever before. Put the arcade and the Dreamcast version head-to-head, and that little $150 console slaughters it.

And damn, does it ever look incredible. Vibrant colors, ultra-detailed textures, shiny car models, per-pixel volumetric car lighting, and up to twenty vehicles on-screen at once -- all running at 60fps with no slowdown. And the scourge of every Daytona game, the visual blemish known as pop-in, has been eliminated. Remember when you'd come through the second corner in the arcade version, and the giant rock with the Sonic relief sculpture would pop in? Not here, baby -- my eyes probed the horizon for any trace of draw-in at all times, and I couldn't find a snitch of it. Awesome, awesome, awesome. And the split-screen mode is just as flawless, leading us to speculate that this game is running on the F355 engine.

And now to the bad news: when questioned at geek-point, one of the game's designers revealed that the game will feature the three courses from the arcade Daytona, two bonus tracks from Daytona CCE on the Saturn, and two bonus, never-seen-before courses. It's possible that the bonus track from Daytona Deluxe on the PC will be in the game as well. This will come as a disappointment to anyone who was expecting extra tracks from Sega's other arcade racers, our designer friend flatly stated that Daytona 2 tracks would not be in the game. Ah well. As for me, I've always preferred Daytona over Daytona 2 -- and now that all the tracks have been revamped to look like a Model 3 game, I ain't complainin'.

Fortunately, the control remains just as juicy -- Daytona DC is all about pulling off powerslides and surviving massive end-over-end crashes. The game played exceptionally through both the steering wheel and the standard DC pad, reminding me why I had spent the bulk of my college career in my dorm room playing Saturn Daytona. And though it was hard to hear the soundtrack, I could swear I heard Takenobu "Singing Daytona Man" Mitsuyoshi busting out the familiar lyrics of "Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, Daytooooona" in the background. (Those of us who hate the soundtrack can just cross our fingers and pray that SoA includes Richard Jacques' remixes for the American version).

Daytona looks on-track for a December release in Japan, and should include on-line network racing modes to let you go head to head over Sega.net. Will you be able to wait for the game's projected early 2001 release in the States? Not I ¿ and we'll be sure to hook you up with the import review long before the final US version ships.

-- Colin Williamson, IGN

Daytona USA 2001 - IGN


Our first online road trip has been met with success, but there are a few potholes in the road.


The fact that SEGA fanatics will finally see an arcade perfect (some say better than arcade perfect, including moi) version of Daytona on their Dreamcast next month may seem like enough. But SEGA isn't satisfied and have included online play up to four players! How would SEGA handle the high-speed racing action of a game like Daytona over a 56k modem? Well, we decided to find out ourselves as we took our first test run of the online play features in Daytona 2001 Network Racing. And the initial results have been pretty darn good, though we did encounter a few bumps on the track.

First off, unlike Phantasy Star Online there's no serial number or card key you have to enter when you wanna play Daytona online. However, before you play online, you do have to go to the Daytona homepage and download an access save file from the site. This is pretty painless, as you go through the standard creation logins of username, passwords, and optional information to fill out. Once you've downloaded the save file, you can no enter Network Battle. At this point, there are two main severs to access, each with Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert lobbies for players to hangout (24 lobbies in all). Additionally, you can create your own lobby as well. Once you're in a lobby, you can chill and chat or setup games and although you don't necessarily need a keyboard to chat (a dropdown keyboard will come up on screen if you don't), we all know how much fun typing with the DC pad can be. And if you have a hard time finding your pals for a race, there's a handy User search that searches by the player's handle.

Once we setup a game, our preview version of Daytona played almost flawlessly. I say almost because opponent cars will often "teleport" from one place to another. This doesn't affect your car at all - throughout the race, your car stays in sight at all times, and the frame rate still blazes at its incredible 60 fps. But having the opposing cars occasionally teleport from one place to another made it a bit difficult especially if you and your opponent are neck and neck, trying to battle for the top spot by constantly bumping into each other. Another strange thing was a slight visual difference between the car models when playing a two-player game and a four-player game. When racing in a two-player game, you can see all the detail (i.e. decals) of your opposing car when you're close. This was different in a four player game; whenever I was close to one of the opposing cars in a four-player race, some of the detail to opposing cars wasn't there, and it seems like the rival vehicles had a lower polygon count as well. However, in both two and four player games, the game showed no slowdown at all and that is simply amazing considering how fast this game runs and that you're playing on a 56k modem.

On some latter notes, it's nice that SEGA put up some warnings before you get online with Daytona that include how to conduct yourselves when playing online, as well as certain things you shouldn't do when playing online (like opening the lid while playing online). And for all those curious demolition-types, no, you can't cause head-on collisions by racing backwards (yeah, I had to try it myself). Lastly, as far as we've tinkered with it, it looks like Daytona USA Network Racing will not support the Broadband Adapter. So far, our preview version of Daytona USA Network Racing is running like the well-tuned machine that we've been hoping for. And I'm sure the tiny few annoyances I encountered while playing online will be shined off once we get the full review version in the next few weeks. And here's also hoping that maybe BBA support will sneak in the final version as well. So, get ready to start those engines, ladies and gentleman, one more time and SHOW ME SOMETHING!

--Anthony Chau, IGNDC

What does it take to get me, a diehard Phantasy Star Online maniac, to stop leveling up, searching for that mythical god-like weapon, or obliterating the boss monsters in PSO? That's a tough one, as I've devoted so much time to the game that I hardly need sleep or nourishment, so long as I have my PSO. But surprisingly, all it took was two words sung in a very distinct style ¿ "ROLLLLLLINNNG STTTAAAARRRT!" ¿ and I forgot what PSO even stands for. As soon as I heard that familiar phrase, I got goosebumps all over and when I saw how perfect the visuals are in Daytona USA Network Racing for the Dreamcast... well, let's just say I'll be splitting my time evenly between PSO and SEGA's legendary franchise racing game.

Though we have yet to dabble in the online play with the import copy of Daytona USA for the Dreamcast, there's enough gameplay contained upon the single-player game to keep any racing fanatic happy. First off, Daytona USA Network Racing is a combination of many previous Daytona games, as demonstrated by the track selection. You have the three tracks from the arcade, two courses from the Saturn Daytona Championship Circuit Edition, and three brand-spanking-new tracks made for the Dreamcast. And you can bet that there will be extra tracks that will need to be unlocked by constant racing; personally, I'm hoping the awesome amusement park track from the arcade Daytona 2 has been coded in. You can select for a quick race on any of the eight open track courses, and you can even select if you want to race the track in mirror mode, reversed mode, or even both. Additionally, you can change what type of tires you want on your car depending if you like your steering with pinpoint precision, or with the trademark powerslides (obviously, I chose the later). If you think you've got a handle on races, try your luck in Championship mode, the default season racing feature that allows you to unlock additional hidden goodies.

With racing games, the most important gameplay mechanic is the control... but this is Daytona we're talking about here, so we don't have to worry about it, right? Well, it's been quite awhile since I've laid my thumb on the analog pad of my Saturn controller in the original Daytona, but the controls in the Dreamcast version are super sensitive; you twitch the DC analog pad by a centimeter, and your car will start making a hard turn. It takes some time getting used to the handling and while you can tune the sensitivity in the options, default control shouldn't be so touchy. With controls so awkwardly responsive, making those powerslides we love becomes a bit more difficult.

You really have to be legally blind to say the visuals in the Dreamcast Daytona are anything but incredible. Rock-solid 60 frames per second animation, searing sensation of speed, and wonderful background settings, it's really hard to race a game that looks so visually impressive. They have also added new effects, making the port of this game better than arcade perfect. This game is SOOO fast (especially in the cockpit view) you'll actually be scared to make turns. As mentioned above, we haven't had a chance to try out the online portion of the game, especially since we're using the import copy of the game. Stay tuned for more updates to this preview when we finally get our chance to burn some rubber online.

--Anthony Chau, IGNDC

Daytona USA 2001 - IGN



As the checkered flag goes up for the DC, we finally get Daytona. So, start those online engines!

BY IGN STAFF If there's one proud aspect of the Dreamcast's line-up of games it's the impressive number of racing games the system has. While the majority of these racing titles may be average, there are a number of standout driving games that really give the gamer an incredible sensation of speed, solid controls, and an overall exciting driving experience. Games like Test Drive Le Mans, F355 Challenge, and Metropolis Street Racer surely demonstrate some of the highest quality in racing games to date on the Dreamcast. But even with these top racing titles, the Dreamcast was missing its heavy hitter, the superstar, the true flagship racing game that has garnered SEGA fans from both the arcade and console world. It seems almost poetic that the finest translation of Daytona should come in the last year before SEGA retires from the hardware tracks. Despite controls that are a bit touchy and online gameplay that can be awkward, Daytona USA 2001 is the true flagship racing game that we've been waiting for.

I know, I know... it sounds so cliché I should be shot for making such acclaimed standard statements. But I can't really express it in typed words, how much it means for this Daytona title to finally come home. And what a way to come home; not content with just giving us a straight port of the arcade game, Genki shoves in eight tracks selectable from the get-go: the three original arcade tracks, two tracks from the Saturn Daytona CCE and three brand new tracks. You can edit each track so you can have a variable number of laps and entry cars. Also, each track can be altered in four different ways: normal, reverse, mirror, and mirror reverse. In fact, one of the game's strongest points is the sheer number of features! You can go for a quick drive in a single race, challenge your best times in Time Attack, take on a friend in VS Battle (two player only), check out replays you saved onto your VMU, and of course, the huge online play feature where you can race up to four other players online. As good as the online play feature sounds, it's not without flaws.

So here's the good news about online play: unless you get disconnected, your car is always moving at a smooth frame rate. During my online playtesting I didn't encounter any lag that affected my control of my vehicle. However, I can't say the same about my opponents; the cars of my opponents would occasionally "teleport" from one side to another. For example, I could have a driver grinding up against the left side of my car (stop snickering, ya pervs) and a second later, he would be on my right side! This really causes some gameplay issues when the race is close and you want to draft behind a player to slingshot ahead. (Drafting is the "Daytona science" where you make your car more aerodynamic by getting right behind another car.) Though it didn't occur frequently, this "teleporting" of cars, which is probably due to lag of the other players, can make online gaming a bit more difficult. But that's just a slight nag ¿ this is online racing on the Dreamcast, a pretty big thing, and of all the racing games, Daytona gets the royal treatment. Not that it doesn't deserve it; Daytona is a great arcade racing game, from both visual and gameplay standpoints.

Obviously, when we talk about "better than arcade ports" in terms of graphics, Daytona USA 2001 blows away its original arcade brother. Not only is pop-up literally non-existent, but added reflective effects to the cars and windows (not real-time, though), really make this one "purty" game. And yes, the framerate blazes at a constant 60 frames per second. Of course, you're going to lose a little detail to vehicles when you try the split screen mode, though the game keeps the frame rate constant. And when you get online, you'll certainly notice a difference in the details of your opposing cars when you have four players battling for position. But the framerate, whether in split screen and in online play, remains constantly blistering, and I believe that slow down has been obliterated from the game all together.

Yes, the visuals look great, but SEGA isn't about style over substance and Daytona delivers pure driving excitement. I have to admit that the initial default control setting is a bit "touchy" for my taste; maybe it's just me but you touch that pad a hair to the left, and your car starts careening to the wall. Okay, so that's an exaggeration but I think the default analog sensitivity was just a bit too responsive. Thankfully, you can alleviate this in the options by lowering the analog sensitivity. Other than that, this is the classic Daytona arcade feel in all its power-sliding, rubber burning, glory. Simulation racing fans with GT3 tattoos will probably hurl when they touch this game, so this should be ample warning to racing fans. Realism is great, but there's something to be said about making four power-sliding turns in a row while going 120 mph.

Daytona USA 2001 isn't a perfect racing game. While you can alleviate the control problem right away, let's hope those wizards working on the Daytona online servers can work some magic so "teleporting" cars and the somewhat occasional disconnect drops become less problematic. But we can finally say that that last SEGA console gets a wonderful port of SEGA's flagship racing game that we'll definitely be enjoying even when the Dreamcast takes its last victory lap.

--Anthony Chau, IGNDC
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