I remember the original Daytona USA getting quite a panning in magazines upon its release here... I wondered how it could be so bad? Anyway, as an upshot of that, I ended up not buying it... I already had Sega Rally, and everybody in the entire world knows that Sega Rally on the Saturn is fantastic.
Step forward fourteen years and you have me walking around Gamestation, trying to kill a few minutes before my bus was due, and spotting this for £2.99. I figured then that three quid was worth paying for something that I should really have some knowledge of.
Once loaded, it presents you with the classic Sega racing game schtick... sweeping views of the game's race tracks, accompanied by a fantastically cheesy rock song. You're instantly at home, and it's a good feeling. That said, you instantly notice that the old girl's looking a bit rough...
Still, looks aren't everything (apparently it's better than the original Saturn version!), and I quickly got into my first ever Daytona session. Too quickly, as it happens... I just unpacked my Saturn box and used the standard pad, which was a bad idea. Controlling your big boxy motor is a bit of a nightmare with a D-pad. To be fair, you'd expect that, so it was back to my room of goodies.
Next up was the Arcade Racer. This might surprise you, but when it comes to gaming at home, I've never used any kind of a steering wheel before. This one is quite nice... it's got a fairly comfortable grip, although the buttons could possible be positioned ever-so slightly better than they have been. Still, my lap times improved considerably, but not to the point where I was finishing races. I put this down to the way I was sitting... my room's not set up the best for this kind of thing.
Finally I moved onto the "3D" analogue NiGHTS pad. I'd forgotten I had this, actually... but courtesy of a generous mate (cheers, Jamie!), I had found my ideal control method for Daytona USA. At last, I started to complete races, and to actually enjoy the game.
I'm surprised that it took quite as much stick as it did... obviously, after the might of Sega Rally, expectations were very high. But it offers a fair bit... there are five courses, and they're not all ovals, as you might expect. And they're filled with typical Sega touches... you'll see hot air balloons taking off, animals running alongside the track, ferris wheels, trains chugging along a track that cuts through your course, and I even spotted a statue of a Virtua Fighter character.
You don't typically expect depth from a Sega racer, and you won't find a lot of it here. But you will find a pretty enjoyable racer which was possibly unfairly maligned at the time. I reckon I'd have been happy with it, had I bought it then.