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Open Goals #1: Daytona USA August 25, 2008

Posted by Mike in Articles, Console, Games.

A new series of articles in which we discuss games that developers should be making, reimagining or sequelling, and urge them to take the plunge…

“Daytona! Let’s go away!”  Prophetic words from Daytona USA’s title song, as it happens.  After one solitary (and inferior) arcade sequel, the racing series, much beloved of gamers of a certain age, has remained on ice for ten years, save for indifferent home console translations.  But following the successes of recent reimaginings such as Bionic Commando and Pacman, shouldn’t Sega’s arcade classic be given another chance?

Daytona USA was the undoubted poster child of Sega’s Model 2 arcade hardware at the time, a graphically phenomenal racing beast far beyond what was possible on consoles at the time of its UK release in 1994.  Its first course, the simple Three Seven Speedway, is the arcade memory of my mid-teens.  Starting off in fortieth place in the race (yes, there were forty cars racing at the same time!  Incredible, or so I thought at the time!), eight intense laps of an oval circuit followed.  The sense of speed, coupled with the force feedback of the arcade steering wheel, gave the player a feeling of immersion that had never previously been achieved in a racing game, and the visceral rush of adrenaline as you fought to negotiate the tight final corner into the finishing straight was almost tangible.

When you added to this the evil AI of the leading computer opponents, and the glorious sight of Sonic the Hedgehog carved into the rock face in a Rushmore-esque manner, it was an experience like no other.  And this was only in single player – the game was even more compelling when played with human opponents.  Up to eight arcade cabinets could be linked together, and whenever I was able to go to London I would seek out The Trocadero arcade, which had exactly that setup.  Racing there had the unabashed glee of an early LAN party, with spirited but friendly competition.  Hard-earned paper round pounds were thrown around like confetti in the wake of Daytona’s just-one-more-go factor.

When I think of the success on Live Arcade of bog-standard arcade ports such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it seems baffling that Sega haven’t looked to update Daytona USA for 2008 for the service.  The idea of sixteen player online racing on Three Seven Speedway is one that has me grinning from ear to ear, and even if it turned out that rose tinted glasses were hiding the flaws of the original game, the popularity of imperfect classics such as the aforementioned TMNT shows that consumers are prepared to go the extra mile to own a nostalgic slice of their childhood.  It would only take a general texture upgrade and the addition of Xbox Live racing to proceedings to make Daytona USA quite possibly the most popular game on Live Arcade ever released, and that’s no exaggeration.  It would even be a welcome inclusion to the lineup if it was a relatively “vanilla” release.

But how about a proper reimagining?  Take the courses from the arcade sequel, and the Championship Circuit Edition on the Saturn (that corrected many of the flaws from the original Saturn conversion), and maybe even the tracks from Scud Race, and deliver it all with a lovely 720p visual upgrade.  Et voila: a Live Arcade racing thriller.  Online championships, leagues… the possibilities for a vibrant community are mouth-watering.  Hell, with that amount of content, Sega could even look at a full retail release.

So, instead of continuing to defecate and piss all over the Sonic series’ decaying corpse, perhaps Sega should get back to what it’s good at.  Sumo Digital would be an ideal developer for the project, given its already fruitful relationship with handling the wares of Sega’s old AM2 division (Outrun 2, Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast), and a new, reimagined, or simply converted Daytona would be an ideal tonic to start to recover some of Sega’s currently faltering reputation with the gaming public.

Here’s hoping that Sega doesn’t continue to Ronnie Rosenthal this gaping open goal.  My message is simple: “Let’s go away”?  No, let’s have it back.



1. kwijibo - March 1, 2009

there are rumors about it
now enjoy outrun online arcade this month and virtual on later, if they sell properly maybe sega will think about daytona usa online arcade…

2. redSKORPION.50 - February 6, 2010

As long as the controls were the same and the cars handle exactly as they do in the original Daytona, it would be a winner for sure. Especially if there was a multiplayer mode over the internet with up to 40 players, which would be lunacy. Even if it was only 20 players. 8 is great, but more would be even better!!

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