Saturn Racing Games – Daytona USA Championship, NASCAR ’98, Sega Rally Championship

Either I’ve gotten lucky with my purchases over the years, or the Sega Saturn has a plethora of great racing games. I may only have three racers total but all of them are solid and offer a little something for everyone.

Sega Rally Championship and Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition were both developed by Sega and utilize a similar game engine so fans of one of these games could, in theory, pick up and play the other and figure it all out pretty quickly. Sega Rally Championship is in essence, a port of the 1994 arcade hit, pitting your race car (initially either a Toyota Celica or a Lancia Delta) against opponents on one of three courses (desert, forest, mountain) and then a final unlockable course, lakeside, if your car finishes in first place overall after all 3. The courses are notable for having distinct driving terrains with smooth controls and frame rates, making it a winner all around. Sega Rally may only have three courses but mastering them won’t be an easy task so repeat plays is a must. There is a time trial mode that should be used for practicing before the arcade mode and there are plenty of bells and whistles available that make Sega Rally Championship a winner, even if you don’t.

Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition is another stellar Sega-developed racer released about a year after Sega Rally. Dayton USA Championship was sort of Sega’s “do-over” since the initial Daytona USA available at launch was considered a disappointment. I don’t own the original launch version of Daytona USA so I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of what made the original version so lackluster but all I know is that I really enjoy the Championship Circuit Edition, particularly while using the 3D controller and it’s analog controls. Not only does the analog joystick work great for maneuvering your car, but the right and left trigger buttons (for accelerating and braking) are the ideal way to control the speed of your car. Now that I’ve played Daytona using this control scheme, it’s hard for me to go back to Sega Rally, which doesn’t support the same use of the 3D controller. Regardless, Daytona USA Championship offers lots of options (cars, courses, modes) to keep racing game fans interested and it’s a blast to play.

Lastly, is Electronic Arts’ NASCAR ’98, a racing simulator that uses real NASCAR drivers (24 of them!) & 10 official NASCAR tracks. I haven’t honestly played NASCAR much as driving sims tend to demand more time than I’m willing to give a racing game but the few races I’ve played have indicated this is a high quality title with a lot to offer.

Currently in my collection:

Daytona USA Championship – game, manual, case B+

NASCAR ’98 – game, manual, case

Sega Rally Championship – game, manual, case A

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