Segas iconic 90’s arcade racer is the very essence of a bygone age of powerful coin operated video games. The game was visually stunning for the time, with a handling model that was instantly accessible yet difficult to master. Those who visited arcades back then will remember the instantly appealing presentation and iconic Daytona music. It’s no wonder that people remember the game fondly, even if it doesn’t always live up to the memories all these years later. Daytona USA Deluxe is a port of the Sega Saturn version of the game known as Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition. Sega made some changes to the handling model in this version which didn’t go down well with all fans of the game. The PC version of the game is notable for including a bonus circuit (Silver Ocean Cruiseway) that never appeared in any other version of the game. Before you rush off to eBay to buy a copy however, you should note that this game has several issues that prevent it running well on more modern PCs.
Your first challenge is to get the game installed. If you try to run the autorun program from the Daytona CD, the game will simply present you with an error saying that it cannot be run on “Windows NT 6.2”. To work around this problem, you need to browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and explore the contents. Find the Setup.exe file and set the compatibility mode settings for this file to run it in compatibility mode for Windows 95. If you’re not familiar with using compatibility settings, see this page.
With the compatibility options set, double click on the “Setup.exe” and installation should start. If you still get the Windows NT compatibility error, go back into the compatibility settings and this time make sure you click the button that says “Change settings for all users”. During installation you will be asked what type of install you want to perform, we recommend a “Full” installation for best performance.
Sega released a DirectX patch for the game that improved compatibility with more modern graphics cards. Installing this patch is highly recommended. You can download it here. Download the patch and then run it and follow the on-screen prompts to patch the game automatically.
Running the game
With the patch installed, you should be able to start the game without any further compatibility options. Daytona USA Deluxe is a very problematic game, so be sure to check the troubleshooting section if you have problems.
To configure controls in the game, press the F3 key to access the in-game menus. Choose the “Settings” menu and then select “Joystick”. You can now configure the games controls. On the Xbox 360 controller, axis 1 and 2 are the left analogue stick, and axis 3 is the trigger buttons (axis 3 negative is the right shoulder trigger). The game has an annoying habit of not remembering these settings, so you may need to reconfigure them every time you play. When you are done in this menu, you might also want to select Analogue options too, and enable analogue controls for your gamepad.
Remember that the Xbox 360 controller uses the same axis for both triggers when used with older games. This means that if you map the cars accelerate and brake controls to the analogue triggers, you can’t press the accelerator and brake pedals at the same time in order to perform advanced driving manoeuvres.
Tweaking visual quality
There are several options you can configure to squeeze the most visual quality out of these old game assets. As before, press the F3 key to access the in-game options. This time, head over to the Settings menu and then choose “Display Settings”. A window will now appear, make sure that “High-Polygon mode” and “Background Appearance” are both selected, then click OK. Now, under the Settings menu again, choose “D3D Options”. In the window that now appears, make sure “Fog” is deselected, then make sure “Filtering” and “Perspective Correction” are both selected.
Troubleshooting and known problems
There are multiple problems and unresolved issues with this game.
CD audio / no music problems – The Daytona USA Deluxe CD must be placed in the CD/DVD drive on your machine that has the first drive letter. If you have more than one (this includes any virtual CD/DVD drives you might have as part of a CD/DVD recording suite), make sure to use the drive that comes first alphabetically. If you need to change the drive letters of your optical drives, see this tutorial.
If you still get no CD audio even after following these pointers, you may need to create an image file of your game CD and use a CD/DVD emulator such as Daemon Tools.
Configuration settings (particularly control settings) are not saved – After configuring your controller settings, the game may forget some or all of your settings, even sometimes during gameplay.
Corrupt graphics – Affects Windows XP machines particularly – Although the game will start, the graphics will be totally corrupt rendering the game unplayable.
Game fails to start – Sometimes the game fails to start at all, simply exiting back to desktop. This can usually be worked around by simply trying to launch the game again. You may need to try several times before the game loads.
Low frame rate in Windows 8 – On Windows 8 machines the game suffers from low performance and frame rates. This can be mitigated by using the fixed DirectDraw library available here. Simply unzip this file and drop the appropriate version of the DDRAW.DLL into your Daytona USA Deluxe folder (do NOT copy this file to any other location on your PC). Unfortunately, after doing this you can no longer access the games configuration menus.
Permanent window border even in full screen mode – Happens primarily in Windows 8. As above it can be mitigated by using the Direct Draw fix, which then unfortunately prevents access to the in-game menus.
Other ways to play Daytona
If you’ve decided that getting this version of Daytona working is too much hassle (we can’t say we blame you) and you don’t happen to have a local arcade that still has a cabinet, there are some alternatives.
If you have an Xbox 360 or PS3 console, you can download a remastered version of the game from your games consoles online store.
On PC, you can use the Model 2 emulator to play an emulation of the original arcade version. This requires that you have the ROM (program) chips from the arcade game though. These files are under copyright so we can’t help you with that unfortunately.
The game was also re-released into the arcades more recently as “Sega Classic Racing”. Though this version lacks the iconic “Let’s go away” theme tune.
Can you submit a fix?
Know how to get this game working better on modern PCs? Help the community and let us know in the comments below.