Reader Submission #143 – Disappointment Championship USA

We don’t talk much about arcade games here on PRC, but given there really is no underlying theme to the website aside from “virtual cars”, anything and everything is up for discussion if you so choose to notify us about it. Today’s Reader Submission comes from longtime contributor FMecha, who has arrived to notify us that the newest iteration of Daytona USA – yes, they’re still making these – has not resonated well with critics and fans alike, offering a very rushed, lackluster experience that eschews series traditions and caters to a very different crowd, all while repackaging old content as “new.”

It’s a disappointing fall for Daytona USA, as the series was once a critically acclaimed staple of arcades around the world for several years in the 1990’s, offering many a glimpse of what hardcore sim racing would be like from the comfort of their own custom battle stations many years later. But is this decline really all that upsetting? Or is it just a fairly natural result of a consumer base growing largely uninterested in public arcade cabinets?

Hey PRC, FMecha here. It’s been a pretty substantial amount of time since I’ve sent in a reader submission, but I’ve finally found another topic worth covering.

This time, I’m writing about Daytona Championship USA.Developed by the London-based Sega Amusements team rather than the original AM2 team, the game generated hype among the arcade racer fandom everywhere, to the point it was originally touted as the third numbered title in the series. Ultimately, however, the “3” was dropped from the game’s title – for the right reasons.

The first evident aspect the fans noticed, one which will disappoint every single one of them, is the game’s gear shift choice. Instead of the traditional 4-gear H-pattern configuration previous Daytona USA games once used, as well as the SCUD and Sega Rally machines, the game opts for a more simplistic low/high configuration. That means no more drift tricks using the manual transmission that advanced Daytona USA veterans are used to. Second, the fans figured out that the “new” tracks are just simply re-skinned and mirrored versions of the original layouts. Furthermore, the new tracks also use recycled soundtracks – evident in the Lakeside (mirrored Advanced) course, where it uses the song from Daytona USA 2001’s Rin Rin Rink course. Talk about effort, or lack thereof.

Reportedly, a podcast from Arcade Heroes stated the game was mainly created because the spare parts for the original, Model 2 hardware-based Daytona, released in 1994 – still in service by many arcades – are running out, sounding like a cash-grab for both operators and players alike. I mean, Sega Racing Classic, and exact remaster of the original game sans title, released in 2009, already exists, and it has the original AM2 team involved… so…

Meanwhile, Sega Japan have something else which, while does show more effort on their end, also makes you ask where Polyphony Digital’s Super GT License went; apparently the license has changed hands, and is the basis for Sega’s upcoming World Driver Championship.

I think the bigger issue at hand here is the role arcade cabinets are currently playing in the overall video game industry. Developers are understandably going to half-ass new variants these machines (and the accompanying software), as we no longer have massive, ultra-popular arcade centers in every single strip mall across North America. Obviously I understand these games are pretty huge in Japan considering vidya is more of a social outing over there than it is over here – where we sit in isolation injecting dangerously unhealthy levels of Mountain Dew directly into our bloodstream – but with that drastic reduction in popularity across an entire continent, comes a significant lack of need to go above and beyond in regards to the play-ability of these games. So the option of half-assing it certainly exists.

For that reason alone, I can understand why Daytona Championship USA captures none of the magic that turned the original titles into a worldwide phenomenon, and as you mentioned, is more of a formality to (quite successfully) bait those currently maintaining old machines, into upgrading to the newer model in what’s essentially a cost-cutting measure. It’s honestly not a bad business decision considering good fucking luck if your original Daytona USA machine gets trashed due to somebody’s drunken rampage or obsessive usage from a local, but of course the trade-off is that it shits on what was a pretty outstanding legacy via underwhelming software.

Arcade racers are not a particular forte of mine; the biggest arcade spot in the city – West Edmonton Mall’s Playdium – was turned into a concert/lounge just as I got to the age where going out and spending money on vidya was a viable pastime, so sadly I cannot connect with the appeal of coin-op machines. I think though, with the reduction in popularity of these machines, at least in North America, a reduction in expectations should also come with it. Arcade machines were popular in the late 80’s and early 1990’s because they offered an experience that home consoles and computers simply couldn’t match, which was part of the allure of going to the arcade in the first place. With that disparity now inverted, it’s a bit foolish to believe arcade cabinets will still somehow offer an experience worth paying for – at least to those who don’t already visit arcades for social outings.

So for that reason, I think that while it’s shitty a once-historic franchise has fallen pretty far off the map, this seems to be a pretty natural chain of events.



41 thoughts on “Reader Submission #143 – Disappointment Championship USA

  1. Daytona Championship USA is for 50yo manchilds who can get over the fact that their shitty obsession with arcades and the 90s are long gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t understand the fascination with Japanese arcades. They have the same old shit as everywhere else and a ton of mechanical games like crane games, air hockey, taiko drums, photo booths and token dispensers. Once in a while they get a new fighting game or some other title ported from console or the PC and for the most part that’s pretty much it. Even Cave switched to mobile years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every arcade game since mid-2000s are literally just “embedded” PCs in a fancy cabinet – the days of custom arcade hardware architecture is over because of high costs. Even by mid-late 90s, arcade hardware were based on console ones. (NAOMI was Dreamcast-based, for instance.)

      Modern Western arcade titles (things that companies like Raw Thrills procure) are especially that, since they just refurbish old PCs to be purposed as arcade PCBs.


      1. True
        Mega-Tech System/Sega System C was based on Sega Mega Drive and Genesis
        Namco System 11 was Based on Playstation One
        ST-V (Sega Titan Video) was based on Sega Saturn
        Namco System 246/256 was based on Sony Playstation 2
        Sega NAOMI was based on Sega Dreamcast
        Triforce (Namco, Sega, Nintendo) was based on Nintendo Game Cube
        Sega Chihiro was based on the Original Xbox
        Namco System 357 (Sega Lindbergh) was based on Sony Playstation 3

        Liked by 1 person

    2. whats worse is how arcades in the US are now just using mobile games.
      fucking fruit ninja and temple run, but now you pay to play them and you get tickets out of them.


  3. I think the worst news here is where the Super GT license went. I really have no idea how good or bad the racing is in that series, but Holy Fuck those GT500 cars (even with a turbo 4) sound incredible per the onboard videos on YT.


      1. Considering number of Japanese Raceroom players are probably even lower compared to things like rFactor or AC (read: only 2ch anons) and gacha-centric mobile games are popular in Japan (see Fate Grand Order, Fire Emblem Heroes), a Super GT-themed gacha mobage is more likely than that.


        1. The games in the article don’t use CRTs, the game in your video looks like garbage in its native 496×384 resolution, and caring so much about scanlines is a tell-tale sign of autism.


          1. Exactly my point. both the snes games and the arcade game in the video were intended to be played on CRT displays not high res lcd monitors, for purists and people who want to recreate a perfect 100% arcade aesthetic accuracy, scanlines, color and interlacing artifacts are very important


        2. Since you just linked to a news article about byuu (higan dev) I just hope there’s no emulator developers wandering here… especially you, Squarepusher (RetroArch dev).


  4. Arcades are still a thing in rest of Asia as well, but mostly it’s Maximum Tune sceners.

    By the way, I’ve shown this article to the Saturn Memories guy, since he’s really disappointed with how DCUSA ended up, and that inspired me to do this.


        1. James actually purged the spam of it on an article because it was getting annonying. The only other time he used moderated the comments was during the gay porn plague and the anus shitposting.


          1. FMecha the PRC historian. I imagine you living in a house like Alan Partridge’s superfan, Sitting alone in a small darkened room, surrounded by wall to wall photos of Austin accompanied with comments and articles you have printed over the years.


  5. Saturn Memories just posted this:

    Despite what Sega Amusements PR says about having the AM2 people involved, the game was primarily developed by Sega Shanghai developers (not London ones as I originally stated). Cue the “made in China” complaining, now.


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