For gamers of a certain age, the name Sega is a synonym for arcade racing perfection. From Yu Suzuki’s sprite scaling opus Out Run to the polygonal bliss of Virtua Racing, the company always stood at the top of the arcade racing genre due to on-point game design, ensuring that anyone regardless of skill could walk away with a silly grin. We have been fortunate in recent times with great re-releases of such classics, with Virtua Racing's remaster, in particular, exceeding even the original release. However, Model 2 and Model 3 games continue to be a no-show in the Sega Ages line-up, and gamers are increasingly asking in unison: “Where the heck is Daytona USA?”
With Daytona being absent, it falls to other titles to fill that void – and sadly, Speedway Racing isn't going to scratch that particular itch. Super PowerUp Games' homage to the world of 'left-turn only' racing might look the part in still images, once you pop the hood, the illusion of a proper Daytona-like arcade racer on Switch quickly falls apart.
Let's (rolling) start with the bad: 60FPS performance doesn't make it to the grid. The game moves along at (mostly) 30FPS in both docked and portable, with a few dips here and there during massive pileups. Considering the overall plainness of the art assets, one would assume that twenty cars racing around oval tracks would make 60FPS a feasible goal, but that isn't the case here. It's not a deal-breaker, but still disappointing.
The lack of customization options hurts this title further, though; it would be nice to remap buttons or be able to toggle some of the visual aspects, such as the speed blur effect. We found a pet peeve with the default controls due to the fact that 'L3' is assigned to re-spawn your car onto the track, and unless you have some serious left thumb analogue discipline you will trigger this feature by accident a lot – which can often cost you a race since re-spawning is a massive gamble; you sometimes end up being spawned on top of another wrecked driver, with little choice but to re-spawn again and losing even more time.
Multiplayer is present, with local-only split-screen for up to four players, but at the cost of the other 19 CPU-controlled vehicles. This sadly makes racing around the six available speedways far less fun than the arcade, time trial (featuring online leader-boards) and championship single-player modes. You can unlock a handful of extra vehicles by winning either East or West racing cups; it might not be much content, but considering the game retails for so little, it could be considered adequate.
On the plus side of things, the car pile-ups are, to put into a word, glorious. Since the AI drivers seem to have a single setting of “murderous intent”, you will never find a single clean lap on any of the game modes featuring CPU-controlled cars on the track. One could even mistake this as an entry in the dormant Destruction Derby franchise; while cars sadly lack damage modelling and we don’t get any flying debris in the air, the horrific twists and tumbles are very satisfying to watch – as long as it's not your car getting some accidental air time.
Regardless of vehicles stats, all cars are delicate beasts, with the slightest wall bounce or misjudged drift almost always resulting in an out-of-control spin, turning you into a juicy target for anyone coming up from the rear. With some practice improvement becomes noticeable, and it is incredibly rewarding to thread the needle of a major pileup of a dozen cars by using a perfect drift straight into a first-place Championship victory. It even gives the loud (and often obnoxious) rock soundtrack some purpose.
Speedway Racing is a mostly competent but ultimately unexceptional attempt to emulate the thrills and spills of Daytona USA – a courageous endeavour indeed. But like the many faux sponsorship advertisements dotted around this game’s speedways, closer inspection drops the curtain to reveal some hard-to-ignore shortcomings. The fun we got out of it clearly demonstrates potential, but a severe lack of customisation options, absence of smooth 60FPS performance and the availability of better racing games on the Switch all conspire to put an unavoidable dent into the bodywork. This is still fun for a few days without ruining your bank account, but it is forever left-turning near the back of the pack.