Saturday, 13 October 2012

Let's Go Away / Rolling Start - Daytona USA

There's something about Daytona USA that means that it remains on the arcade floor (and there's still a single player cabinet left in Namco's arcade in London's South Bank) - maybe it's the fact that you have to sit down to drive it or that the controls feel clunky and solid or that if you're lucky you can find an 8-way cabinet for playing against loads of your friends. This was made during the heyday of Sega's Model 2 arcade system, which were riding high in the popularity stakes whilst the Mega Drive made inroads in the home market. It's fair to say that they knew what they were doing when they put this out on the market.

Either way, the music is certainly part of the allure, including the wonderfully timestretched (or is that sample/held?) vocals in the attract mode and game soundtrack - of which the above record is a great example. The weird, glitchy patterns based on vocal samples were certainly strange but they worked and are a good example of some of the things that people were doing with electronic music at the time This, along with the wonderful "rolling start" vocal gave it a catchy and characterful vibe, together with typical 90s dance music flair and lots of fantasic synthetic hammond organ and drum sounds.

I was lucky enough to go to a university that had arcade machines in the student union, starting off with a two-seater Daytona USA cabinet, which was perfect for drunken racing duels with the local players. That and the extremely accessible price of 50p a credit ensured that it became a common fixture in my time in between lectures to give it a go and try and win the beginner Daytona bowl track (especially on manual gears, dropping to third and powersliding round the last corner - great fun!).

Ask anyone what their favourite arcade racer is and the response is invariably: