In 1998, Sega released a follow-up to Daytona USA, its vibrant, whimsical stock-car racing game that still populates Barcades to this day. It was logically titled Daytona USA 2, and loyal fans consider it not only the best in the series but among the greatest arcade racers ever made. It regrettably never received a home console or PC version, but that is likely to change in just a few months.
After 25 years, Daytona USA 2 appears primed to be legally playable outside arcades for the first time ever, in a rather roundabout way: as a minigame within an upcoming entry in the long-running Yakuza franchise. According to Japanese gaming publication Famitsu, the next release, titled Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, will include a selection of Sega arcade titles as is customary in the series. One of those, which you can experience by visiting an arcade in the game's recreations of Osaka or Yokohama, will be Daytona USA 2, albeit with a different name: Sega Racing Classic 2.
The reason for the name change is likely also one of the reasons it's taken so long for Daytona USA 2 to come home. Even though Daytona USA shared virtually nothing with actual stock-car racing, Sega previously relied upon a license from the International Speedway Corporation—now NASCAR—to market its games under the "Daytona" brand. It's an iconic name in American motorsport, after all.
As an interesting side note, the Daytona International Speedway just so happened to be located across the street from an old GE Aerospace facility where the innovative computer-graphics hardware that powered the game was designed.
While Sega rereleased the original Daytona USA for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2011, and more recently delivered a rather underwhelming arcade-only game produced by a different studio in 2016 called Daytona Championship USA, these licenses tend to be expensive, and create barriers for games to be rereleased (especially racing games, with their copious trademark associations). It didn't help that Daytona USA 2 was also built for Sega's once-cutting-edge Model 3 hardware, that rarely saw its games ported to consoles.
As a result, Daytona USA 2 has been largely inaccessible for a quarter century, unless you happen to live near an arcade that has a cabinet still running. Regrettably, the sequel was never quite as common as the smash-hit original. It's worth noting that Like a Dragon Gaiden will also include Fighting Vipers 2, another Model 3 game that never made the jump to consoles in North America, though at least that one was published for the Sega Dreamcast in Europe and Japan.
As a massive Sega racing fan, it's hard to properly convey how excited I am by this news. It seemed like the day would never come. And even though some questions remain, like whether the company will eventually release Sega Racing Classic 2 as a standalone title (it should—the work's already been done), or whether the Like a Dragon version will include both of Daytona 2's regional soundtracks featuring Dennis St. James and Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, those matters can wait. The heat is back at last, to reference the game's tagline, and that's cause for celebration. Like a Dragon Gaiden launches November 9 for Xbox, PlayStation and PC via Steam, and I can promise you I'll have a copy on day one.
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