Originally an arcade machine, Cruis'n USA was then released for the Nintendo 64. The game asks players to choose from four vehicles to race in a variety of courses throughout the USA —based on real locations, their names are: Golden Gate Park, US 101, LA Freeway, Arizona (easy mode); Beverly Hills, Death Valley, Iowa, Indiana, Appalachia (medium difficulty mode); San Francisco, Redwood Forest, Grand Canyon, Chicago, Washington, D.C. (expert mode). Various pre-race options included are the choice of automatic or manual transmission, various controller configurations, as well as background music selection option.
Players take control of the vehicle from a third-person perspective, and while avoiding various hazards along the way, must beat the clock as well as the CPU-controlled rivals to achieve first place.
In the process of porting the game from arcade to Nintendo 64, a few small things were censored to fit Nintendo's rating system. The Trophy girl at the end of races had a Cruis'n USA top drawn on instead of a bikini. Also, the ending scene of the president in a hot tub with bikini clad women was removed. Finally, the transmission option 'XL Powershaft' was renamed 'XL Power', and the ability to hit and kill animals (like deer) was entirely removed.