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Daytona USA[a] is a racing video game developed by Sega AM2 and released by Sega, with a limited release in 1993 followed by a full release in 1994.[3] One of the highest grossing arcade games of all time,[4] Daytona USA was Sega's first title to debut on the Sega Model 2 arcade board, and, at the time of its release, was considered the most visually detailed 3D racing game. Compared to the flat-shaded polygons of its predecessor, Virtua Racing, Daytona's 3D-world was fully texture-mapped, giving it a more realistic appearance. Daytona was one of the first video games to feature filtered, texture-mapped polygons, giving it the most detailed graphics yet seen in a video game up until that time.[3] In single-player mode, Daytona maintained a consistent 60 frames per second, even with multiple opponents on screen, surpassing the motion smoothness of the only other racing game in a comparable graphical arena, Namco's Ridge Racer.

Daytona USA
Daytona USA arcade flyer.jpg
Daytona USA arcade flyer
Developer(s)Sega AM2
Director(s)Toshihiro Nagoshi
Producer(s)Toshihiro Nagoshi
Yu Suzuki[1]
Designer(s)Toshihiro Nagoshi
Programmer(s)Takuji Masuda
Composer(s)Takenobu Mitsuyoshi
David Leytze
SeriesDaytona USA
Platform(s)Arcade, Sega Saturn, Windows, PlayStation Network, Xbox 360 (XBLA)
  • JP: August 1993[2] (limited release)
  • WW: April 1994
Sega Saturn
  • JP: 1 April 1995
  • NA: 11 May 1995
  • EU: 8 July 1995
  • JP: August 1996
PlayStation Network
  • WW: 25 October 2011
Xbox Live Arcade
  • WW: 26 October 2011
Arcade systemSega Model 2
SoundYamaha YMW258-F (Sega MultiPCM)

A slightly updated version of Daytona USA was re-released in arcades in 2010 as Sega Racing Classic.

On 12 October 2011 Sega announced that Daytona USA would be coming to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. This also marked the return of the original name. The game saw its release on 25 October for PlayStation Network, and 26 October for Xbox Live Arcade.



The player is put behind the wheel of a stock car (known as the Hornet, where the car has a lot of similarities with the NASCAR Chevrolet Lumina), with the choice of three tracks as well as an automatic or manual transmission. The player's objectives are to outrun the competing cars, and complete the race before time runs out.

Daytona USA offers multiplayer and introduced the possibility of linking four twin cabinets or eight deluxe cabinets to create an eight-player competition. Linked deluxe cabinets may also include a camera pointing towards the drivers seat, linked to a closed-circuit television to show the player on a separate screen. Even though the game was released years before the Daytona USA museum (which featured this game in the attraction's arcade) opened next to the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, the International Speedway Corporation had already held the trademark to the name "Daytona USA." Any future game would require a license to use the name Daytona USA.[citation needed]

In 1994 Sega released a revised version of the game which changed the difficulty of computer-controller racing opponents and completely restyled camera motions in the attract mode, pre-race, and victory segments.[citation needed] In 2010, Sega released Sega Racing Classic, essentially the same game running in 720p resolution, and the lyric "Let's Go Away" in the intro & advanced track (Dinosaur Canyon) removed due to licensing issues.[5]


Daytona USA two player version. Up to 8 units could be linked for multiplayer racing.

Development of Daytona USA began in May 1993.[6]

At the beginning of 1995, Sega AM2's Sega Saturn division was split into three sub-departments, each one charged with porting a different arcade game to the Saturn: Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Cop, and Daytona USA. Due to unexpectedly slow progress in the Daytona USA port, a number of members of the Virtua Fighter 2 team were reassigned to Daytona USA.[6][7] Development on the port was completed in April 1995.[8]

The soundtrack of Daytona USA was composed by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi,[9] who also performed the vocals.[10] For the arcade version, the songs were sampled onto a Yamaha sound chip, including the drums and Mitsuyoshi's voice. For the Sega Saturn version, the songs were re-recorded with real instruments and all the lyrics were re-sung for each audio track in the original soundtrack.[11]


Daytona USA was ported to the Sega Saturn as a Western launch title in 1995,[12][13] and to Windows in 1996. The conversion had a somewhat slow frame rate (around 20fps, compared to the arcade version's 60fps), and featured a reduced draw distance. Daytona USA is compatible with the Arcade Racer steering wheel accessory. It is also compatible with the 3D analog control pad (when switched into analog mode) and the Saturn will detect it as the Arcade Racer steering wheel.

Daytona USA: Championship Circuit Edition, a reworked and extended version of Daytona USA was released in 1996 for the Saturn and in 1997 for Windows PCs.

Daytona USA was re-released in 1996 as Daytona USA: Special Edition. It was designed to be a smaller, more affordable cabinet than the original.[14] The only notable feature is the reworked single cabinet rather than an update.

Daytona USA 2, an arcade-exclusive sequel utilizing the Sega Model 3 hardware was released in 1998.

Daytona USA 2001, a remake of Daytona USA and Championship Circuit Edition, was released in 2001 for the Dreamcast, with massive graphical upgrades, online multiplayer and new courses. Despite all this, much criticism was directed at its controls.[15][16]

An enhanced version was released in the arcades in 2010 as Sega Racing Classic. It features a widescreen display and new cabinet design.[17]

An enhanced port that was faithful to the original arcade version was released on PlayStation Network on 25 October 2011[18] and Xbox Live Arcade on the following day.[18] This version featured true widescreen display, high definition textures, 8-Player Multiplayer over Xbox Live/PlayStation Network, and additional content, such as 30 new challenges, Karaoke mode, and an Arranged soundtrack. The game also offered support for console steering wheels, in addition to Xbox Achievements/PlayStation Trophies for the player to obtain. The Xbox 360 version was made backwards compatible with Xbox One on 21 March 2017.[19]

A new game in the series, Daytona Championship USA, also unofficially known as Daytona USA 3, was released on 16 June 2017 for arcades. It is a reboot of the arcade series, it features the 3 tracks introduced in the original game, as well as 3 "mirror-mode" tracks, which have redesigned textures with the beginner track taking inspiration from the real-life Daytona International Speedway.

Reception and legacyEdit

Review scores
PublicationScore B[20]
AllGame(Arcade)      [21]
(Saturn)      [22]
(PC)      [23]
CVG(Arcade) 96%[24]
(Saturn) 96%[25]
Edge(Saturn) 8 / 10[26]
EGM(Saturn) 15.5 / 20[27]
Eurogamer(XBLA) 9 / 10[28]
Famitsu(Saturn) 30 / 40[29]
(Saturn) 8 / 10[30]
(Saturn) 9 / 10[31]
GameFan(Saturn) 264 / 300[32]
GamePro(Saturn) 4.5 / 5[33]
GamesMaster(Saturn) 84%[34]
GamesRadar+(PSN/XBLA)      [35]
Next Generation     [36]
OPM (UK)(PSN) 8 / 10[37]
OXM (UK)(XBLA) 9 / 10[38]
Games World(Saturn) 94%[39]
Maximum(Saturn)      [40]
Mean Machines(Saturn) 96%[41]
PC Team(PC) 86%[42]
Player One(Saturn) 95%[43]
Sega Pro(Saturn) 94%[44]
Sega Saturn Magazine(Saturn)      [45]

Daytona USA was highly popular in arcades, and the twin cabinet was one of three 1995 recipients of the American Amusement Machine Association's Diamond Awards (which are based strictly on sales achievements).[46] In a 2002 report, Sega reported it to be one of the successful arcade games of all time.[47]

The original arcade version was critically acclaimed. It received a very high score of 96% from Computer and Video Games magazine in 1994.[24] All Game Guide gave the arcade game a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.[21] In a 2015 retrospective, IGN's Luke Reilly stated that it "remains a shining example of arcade racing done oh so right."[48]

Daytona USA was also formerly featured as one of the arcade games at the Daytona 500 Experience attraction adjacent to the Daytona International Speedway, which itself was previously known as Daytona USA.

On release of the console port, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Sega Saturn version of the game a 30 out of 40,[29] before giving it first an 8 out of 10[30] and later a 9 out of 10 in their Reader Cross Review.[31] The two sports reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Saturn version scores of 8 and 7.5 out of 10, noting some problems with the frame rate and animation but declaring it an overall good conversion. One of the reviewers particularly applauded Sega of America for taking the time to polish up the North American version so that it plays better than the rushed Japanese version.[27] GamePro praised the addition of Saturn mode and mirror mode and the strong gameplay of the core game. They concluded that "Daytona pales in comparison with Ridge Racer for the Japanese PlayStation, which takes an early lead with better features, gameplay, and graphics. ... Regardless, Daytona's intense gameplay and breathtaking graphics will exhilarate any racing fan."[33] Maximum commented on the Saturn version's low-resolution texture mapping, clipping, large borders (in the PAL release), and lack of multiplayer, before adding that "we'd be doing you a disservice by not mentioning every one of these deficiencies, but the truth of the matter is: it's not that important. Gameplay is what it's all about and in this respect Daytona USA is an unmitigated triumph." [emphasis in original] They applauded the challenging track design and realistic game mechanics, particularly mentioning the impact of wind resistance, and gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[40] Sega Saturn Magazine also gave the Saturn version 5 out of 5 stars, saying that the game is graphically impressive aside from the pop up and has strong arcade-style gameplay.[45] Next Generation reviewed the Saturn version of the game, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "While Daytona USA suffers from an accumulation of weaknesses, if it's a fast, thrilling racing game you're after, the Saturn conversion has a great deal to recommend."[36]

Entertainment Weekly gave the game an A and wrote that "Picture yourself watching a sci-fi movie, set in a futuristic arcade, that involves a dizzying car race. 'Wow!' you can imagine saying to yourself, 'How did they do those special effects?' You'll have the same reaction while enjoying Daytona USA. This one- or two-player racing game is so utterly realistic, yet at the same time so obviously (and lovingly) computer-generated, that playing it is like finding yourself in the middle of something dreamed up by Industrial Light & Magic."[49]

GamesRadar gave the HD re-release a score of 9/10, writing that "Daytona USA is a joyous, jubilant celebration of everything that made arcade games so exciting" and calling the survival mode "a brilliant test of memory, logic and dexterity."[35] Eurogamer also gave the game a 9/10, explaining that "age doesn't seem to have ravaged Daytona USA's core" and noting that it serves as "a fitting epitaph to the genre."[28]

Edge ranked the game number 70 on its list of "The 100 Best Games To Play Today" in 2009, stating that, "A pure expression of arcade racing, Daytona USA hasn't lost its capacity to entertain on every level."[50] It has also been listed as one of the best games of all time by Next Generation in 1996,[51]Computer and Video Games in 2000,[52]Killer List of Videogames,[53]Yahoo in 2005,[54]Guinness World Records in 2008,[55]Empire in 2009,[56]NowGamer in 2010,[57] and Electronic Gaming Monthly in 1997,[58][59] 2001[60] and 2006.[61]

In 2015, it appeared on IGN's list of The Top 10 Most Influential Racing Games Ever, ranked at number six. According to writer Luke Reilly, it is "perhaps the most recognisable arcade racing game of all time and the highest-grossing sit-down cabinet ever," with machines "still resting proudly in arcades and bowling alleys the world over". He noted that, while Ridge Racer also featured texture mapping and "certainly enjoyed the better home release conversion," Daytona USA’s "eight-player action made it king of the arcade."[48]

The 1994 video game Puzzle & Action: Ichidant-R features a game called Daytona UFO,[62] whose music tune is Daytona USA's song Let's Go Away.[63]


  1. ^ デイトナ USA in Japan


  1. ^ Works of Yu Suzuki, Ys Net
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  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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  43. ^ Player One, issue 55, pages 58-59
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  46. ^ "And the Winner Is...". Next Generation. No. 17. Imagine Media. May 1996. p. 21.
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  50. ^ Edge Staff (9 March 2009). "The 100 Best Games To Play Today". Edge Online. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
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  62. ^ Puzzle & Action: イチダントアール取扱説明書 Ichidantoāru Toriatsukaisetsumeisho [Puzzle & Action: Ichidant-R Instruction Manual] (in Japanese) (Mega Drive ed.). Sega. 1995. p. 22.
  63. ^ Sega (1995). Puzzle & Action: Ichidant-R (in Japanese). Mega Drive. Sega. Level/area: デートなUFO.