Back in 1994 Sega released Daytona into the Arcades - it was a huge hit, and in the years that have passed since, it must have been played by anyone and everyone who's ever put foot into your local seaside arcade.
One of the first noticeable improvements over the Arcade and Saturn versions are the graphics - not only is there no popup visible, but they are also very fast and fluid, and this seems to make the laps pass quicker and be more fun than on the Saturn and in the Arcade.
The skies and clouds look impressive and high resolution - the dusk effect on the Circuit Pixie track is superb, and the cars have the sky reflecting in their shiny paintwork.. until you smash into a wall, at which point the damage and scuff marks weather the cars paintwork.
Gameplay takes place in single race mode, championship, head-to-head, and time attack modes. Sadly there is no internet play for the European version - the game would have been ideal for online play, and would have given it that extra edge over other racing titles.
With up to 40 cars on track, the action is manic, and great fun. The "must give it another go and try to do better" factor is definitely apparent, and I soon found myself racing over twenty times on the Circuit Pixie track, starting on the back of a 40 car grid, and trying to get nearer the front in only 2 very short and quick laps - after a few attempts I came in 2nd place, and the next try finished 1st.
Handling does seem a bit "odd" - if you are used to super-realistic tap of the thumb controls in other games such as MSR or Ferrari 355, then Daytona will come as a huge shock to your senses - the car seems to drive sharply in the direction that you press, and not just in a gentle turn. After a few laps though, I was having no trouble controlling the car, and you can always go into the options to adjust the settings to a more "normal" style of handling if you wish. You can also choose to have the Dreamcast vibration option used, and crashes into walls and other cars cause good hefty rumbles.
The music is all jazzed up from the original - personally I'm not too sure if this is a good thing or not - the old music was great, and would have been suited fine to Daytona USA 2001, but I'm sure that it's modernised vocals and beats will grow on me before long. There are ofcourse all of the well remembered vocals including "roooollliiinng staartt.." and "daaaytonaaa", which were made so popular in the Arcade.
One of the major complaints that I have about the title is something which is probably just a small point, but it's annoying, and that's the fact that the "Game Over" lyric and jingle seems totally out of place, sounding more suited to a futuristic robot game - an American voice would have been much better suited, and may have sounded better. Instead it just sounds like a posh bloke trying to sound really cool, and failing pretty miserably.
Forget the reviews you may have read elsewhere which gave Daytona USA 2001 a poor score because of it's out-dated handling, this simply isn't the case - sure, it might not be suited to everyone, and at first I wasn't too impressed, but after spending almost three days non-stop playing the game I'm totally hooked, and it's bought back so many great memories of the Arcade version.
Daytona USA 2001 would have got a score of 9 or maybe even a 10 if the (irritating) "game over" vocal was the old one, or a better more suited one, and if the much wanted internet play had of been included, such as it was over in America.
The game is a great improvement over the arcade, and will most certainly find a place in every Dreamcast owners collection if they have ever set eyes upon either it's arcade or Saturn versions. The handling is a bit of an issue, which may not be suited to everyone, but I can confirm that the game is very addictive, very impressive, and goes to show just how good the Sega heritage for great arcade games is.Overall score: 8 out of 10
Players: 1 to 2
Recommended Price: £29.99
Available: May 11th 2001Buy Daytona 2001 from Amazon.co.uk