Daytona USA Deluxe is a lot like the "desperation candy" that sits in your pantry longer than any other dessert, and you turn to it only after you're all out of other options. You've played NASCAR Racing I and II, had your fun with Screamer, Whiplash, and even Moto Racer, and now you decide that it's finally time to load this one up, if for nothing else, for a change of scenery.
After boot-up you'll come to the realization that "Deluxe" is another way of saying "everything that the original should have had but didn't," the original here being Daytona USA, the disappointing arcade port. Indeed this does boast most of the features of the arcade version, though it still lacks much of its appeal. It's not that this title is bad, as there's nothing overwhelmingly disdainful about it. It's just that for anyone who's played a computer game since Night Driver, there's nothing here that hasn't been done countless times before, countless times better.
The appeal of the arcade game was its bigness. Big racing chairs for you and your opponent to sit in, big screen monitors to see all the arcade action with, and big sturdy force-feedback steering wheels and pedals to feel every bump and grind with. In its eagerness to port it to the PC, Sega didn't get any of this in the original. No multiplayer, no force feedback, and only three tracks. But now the deluxe version addresses most of those problems.
You have your choice of eight different stock cars, each with slightly different features such as acceleration or grip, as well as the option of tuning a particular car by adjusting things like suspension or handling. But before you get too excited thinking it's just like NASCAR Racing, you best put the brakes on. At best it could be described as NASCAR Racing lite, really lite.
You get to burn some rubber on the six hi-res courses, that is if your PC's got the horsepower under its hood (you're gonna need at least a Pentium 90 for a decent frame rate). Though in classic "what were they thinking" fashion, there's no support for 3D cards, making the best resolution here a bit ho-hum compared to almost any other similar product. To be fair, the company is using the tried-and-true "a patch is forthcoming" in the nebulous future.
Thankfully, it does include the multiplayer support that accounted for most of the original's appeal. You can play up to eight over a network or through your other standard multiplayer options. And if you want to race with a buddy sitting close by, there's a two-player split-screen mode. Though this is nice, it fails to capture that same arcade experience. So too with the controller; as there aren't any force-feedback steering wheels yet, you're going to have to be content with a force-feedback joystick if you want the feel of every turn and crash.
But let me restate the fact that this isn't a bad game, per se. It's just that if you have 50 bucks to buy a racing game, NASCAR Racing 2's arcade mode offers more fun, options, and better graphics than Daytona. If, however, you're a die-hard arcade racing fan who owns them all (and perhaps are independently wealthy with nothing better to spend your money on), keep in mind that this game may never make it to the winner's circle, but it'll get you where you want to go.