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The Need for Speed

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The Need for Speed
Developer(s)EA Canada[a]
Publisher(s)Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts Studios (MS-DOS, Windows)
Producer(s)Hanno Lemke
Programmer(s)Brad Gour
Artist(s)Markus Tessmann
Composer(s)Jeff van Dyck
Saki Kaskas
SeriesNeed for Speed
Platform(s)3DO, MS-DOS, Windows, PlayStation, Saturn
  • NA: March 20, 1996
  • EU: March 22, 1996
June 1996
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

The Need for Speed is a 1994 racing game developed by EA Canada, originally known as Pioneer Productions, and published by Electronic Arts for 3DO in 1994. It allows driving eight licensed sports cars in three point-to-point tracks either with or without a computer opponent. Checkpoints, traffic vehicles, and police pursuits appear in the races.

Ports were released for MS-DOS in 1995, then PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1996, with additional tracks and cars. The Need for Speed was renamed Overdrivin' DX in Japan, and a version for Microsoft Windows was sold as The Need for Speed SE (Special Edition).

Electronic Arts collaborated with automotive magazine Road & Track to match vehicle behaviour, including the mimicking of the sounds made by the vehicles' gear control levers. The game contains precise vehicle data with spoken commentary, several "magazine-style" images of each car's interior and exterior and short video clips highlighting the vehicles set to music.

The game was a commercial success. Video game publications praised the incorporation of realism into the gameplay and graphics, as well as the inclusion of full-motion videos. It is the first installment released in the Need for Speed series, which has influenced other racing games.


The player driving a Chevrolet Corvette C4 on the Coastal course

The premise of The Need for Speed involves racing in sports cars, including several exotic models and Japanese imports. The original 3DO version includes three point-to-point tracks, each divided into three stages; subsequent ports feature both the point-to-point tracks and new closed circuits. The Saturn and PlayStation versions include an additional three tracks.[7] Traffic vehicles appear in races, and may be avoided by the player. Police pursuits are also a key gameplay mechanic, with the player ticketed or arrested if a police car succeeds in catching up with them. Players are arrested if they receive a third police ticket (or a second ticket in the Sega Saturn version). In the special edition, completing the tournaments (or entering a cheat) unlocks the "rally" mode, where car dynamics are changed to make for a faster "arcade" experience, as well as the "Warrior PTO E/2", a fictional jet-powered sports car.

Except for the aforementioned Warrior, each car in the game comes with detailed specifications, history, audio commentaries and real-life videos, which would also be featured in subsequent games in the series, though this was omitted in later games. A replay feature allowed the player to view a saved race. Multiple camera views, playback speed and video navigation are offered.

Multiplayer consists of a two-player head-to-head racing mode, which requires computers connected via modem.

There are a total of six courses in the game (three in the 3DO version[7]): City, Coastal, Alpine, Rusty Springs, Autumn Valley and Vertigo. Each is a distinctive environment. City, Coastal and Alpine have three sections each, while the others are circuit races.

There is an extra track in the game, named Lost Vegas, which can be unlocked by winning all of the tracks above in tournament mode. A flag in the bottom right corner of the track's image indicates a victory in the menu to help the player keep track of the progress.

Development and release[edit]

The Ferrari 512 TR is one of the eight cars included in the original 3DO version.
The Need for Speed was initially developed and released for the 3DO.

The Need for Speed was noted for its realism and audio and video commentaries. Electronic Arts collaborated with automotive magazine Road & Track to match vehicle behaviour, including the mimicking of the sounds made by the vehicles' gear control levers. The game also contained precise vehicle data with spoken commentary, several "magazine-style" images of each car's interior and exterior and short video clips highlighting the vehicles set to music. Inspiration for the gameplay came from Test Drive, which had shared development staff with The Need for Speed.[8] The Need for Speed was released in 1994 for the 3DO.[9]


In 1996, an edition of The Need for Speed, The Need for Speed: Special Edition, was released only on PC CD-ROM, containing MS-DOS and Windows 95 versions. It includes two new tracks ("Transtropolis" and "Burnt Sienna") and various enhancements to the game engine. The Windows 95 version supports DirectX 2 and IPX networking.

The Need for Speed: Special Edition is the only game in the Need for Speed series to support MS-DOS, as subsequent releases only support Windows 9x.

In June 1995, Atari Corporation struck a deal with EA in order to bring several titles from their catalog (including The Need for Speed) to the Atari Jaguar CD. These ports, along with The Need for Speed, went unreleased.[10][11][12]

Japanese versions[edit]

In 1994, Electronic Arts Victor translated the 3DO version of The Need for Speed into Japanese, and released it in Japan as Road & Track Presents: OverDrivin'[b].[13]: Front cover, credits  The PlayStation port of the game was exported to that country as Over Drivin' DX[c] in 1996.[14]: Front cover, credits  Two additional Nissan-sponsored versions of the game were announced at that year's Tokyo Game Show:[15] Nissan Presents: Over Drivin' GT-R[d] (released in 1996 for the Sega Saturn)[16]: Front cover, credits  and Nissan Presents: Over Drivin' Skyline Memorial[e] (released in 1997 for the PlayStation).[17]: Front cover, credits  The former's car lineup consists only of Nissan vehicles, whilst the latter exclusively features Skyline models.[15]


The game reached number 5 in the UK sales chart.[35] The PC version reached the top ten in many software retailers charts for several months following its release.[3]

The Need For Speed was met with positive reviews. The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly scored the 3DO version an 8.0 average, with two of them giving the game a 9.0 or higher. They praised the game's realistic graphics and sounds, addictive gameplay, and exceptionally clever use of full-motion video.[23] GamePro gave it a rave review as well, commenting that the selection of cars "will leave car buffs drooling" and the realistic graphics and handling of each vehicle "infuse the game with taut realism and fascinating variety". They expressed disappointment over the lack of two-player mode, but felt that the exceptionally challenging enemy AI largely makes up for it.[36] Next Generation reviewed the 3DO version of the game and stated that "while everything is in place for a truly great game, the unfortunate and total need of speed prevents The Need for Speed from ever being more than a pleasant Sunday drive".[31]

British magazine PC Power gave the Windows version a score of 95%, praising car handling, graphics and overall presentation, but criticizing hardware requirements and sound.[33] Jim Varner of GameSpot gave the game a "Great" rating of 8.3/10, citing "With its marvellous attention to detail, exotic course design, and straightforward gameplay, this game is a true winner. Simply put, The Need for Speed is the next best thing to owning a $200,000 sports car!"[26] The two sports reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly applauded the PlayStation version for its fast racing and excellent controls.[24] Air Hendrix argued in GamePro that "With all these improvements, [the PlayStation version] is practically a sequel to the 3DO game, and it plays like one." He made particular mention of the additional courses, the handbrake, the improved displays, and the faster speed of the game.[25] A Next Generation critic likewise found it faster and more responsive than the 3DO version and held it to be one of the PlayStation's best racing games to date.[29] Other magazines were more critical, with PSM criticising the "obtrusive graphics" and saying that it "isn't an immediately enjoyable game – the idiosyncracies only serve to annoy".[37] Maximum complained that the driving lacks intensity and that cars are too resistant to crashes, though they acknowledged that the graphics are moderately impressive.[32]

Air Hendrix rated the Saturn version as "comparable with – and occasionally better than – the impressive PlayStation version", highlighting the controls in particular as superior to previous versions of the game. He concluded: "The gameplay demands both precision driving and cajones, and although mastery takes time to achieve, Need's ultimately more satisfying than Daytona or Sega Rally."[38] Rob Allsetter of Sega Saturn Magazine, however, said that while The Need for Speed is good on its own terms, it looks dated compared to the two games Air Hendrix referenced. He also disliked the game's elements of realism, arguing that racing games are more fun when they indulge in wild fantasy.[34] A Next Generation critic said that it was "Certainly as fast, but not as crisp as the PlayStation version", but nonetheless "A better racer than most."[30]


The Need for Speed was a runner-up for Computer Gaming World's 1995 "Action Game of the Year" award, which ultimately went to Crusader: No Remorse. The editors wrote: "The Need for Speed, Electronic Arts' incredibly fast and enthralling driving game, almost caught the checkered flag. Multiple courses with distinctive feels, brilliant SVGA graphics, and some of the hottest iron on the road made this 3DO conversion a worthy entry into the PC action game arena."[39] In 1996, GamesMaster ranked The Need for Speed 87th on their "Top 100 Games of All Time".[40] In the same issue, they also rated the 3DO version 6th in its "The GamesMaster 3DO Top 10".[41] In 1998, Saturn Power listed the game 100th in their Top 100 Sega Saturn Games.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The game's front cover credits the developers as "Pioneer Productions and Electronic Arts Canada".[6]: Front cover 
  2. ^ ロード&トラックプレゼンツ:オーバードライビン, Rōdo & Torakku Purezento: Ōbādoraibin
  3. ^ オーバードライビンDX, Ōbā Doraibin DX
  4. ^ 日産プレゼンツ:オーバードライビンGT-R, Nissan Purezento: Ōbā Doraibin GT-R
  5. ^ 日産プレゼンツ:オーバードライビンスカイラインメモリアル, Nissan Purezento: Ōbā Doraibin Sukairain Memoriaru


  1. ^ "The Need for Speed". Edge. No. 16. January 1995. p. 62. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  2. ^ "The Need for Speed". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Vol. 8, no. 1. January 1995. p. 254. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Electronic Arts (April 2, 1996). "ELECTRONIC ARTS SHIPS ROAD & TRACK® PRESENTS: THE NEED FOR SPEED™ FOR THE PLAYSTATION™" (Press release). San Mateo, California. Archived from the original on June 5, 1997. Retrieved September 4, 2022. Released in September 1995, the PC-CD version of The Need for Speed is still in the top ten of many software retailers charts.
  4. ^ "Checkpoint - Events And Software Releases". Computer and Video Games. No. 177. Future Publishing. August 1996. p. 52.
  5. ^ "Need for Speed, Road Rash, Shockwave Assault Released". Sega Saturn.com. June 25, 1996. Archived from the original on June 6, 1997. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  6. ^ EA Canada (December 1994). The Need for Speed (3DO Interactive Multiplayer). Electronic Arts.
  7. ^ a b "The Need for Speed". GamePro. No. 91. IDG. April 1996. p. 50.
  8. ^ "Q&A; The Senior Producer of NFS III!". PSM. No. 9. US: Imagine Media. May 1998. pp. 18–19. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). publicaciones.retromuseo.com:8123. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 9, 2019. Retrieved January 15, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ François, Tommy; Msika, David (June 1995). "Reportage – E3 – Atari: Le Virtuel, Ça Marche". CD Consoles (in French). No. 8. Pressimage. p. 43. Archived from the original on September 17, 2018. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  11. ^ "CVG News – Atari's Cat Gets The CD Cream – Big Cat Claws EA Deal". Computer and Video Games. No. 163. Future Publishing. June 1995. pp. 12–13.
  12. ^ Nepožitek, Marek (July 1995). "Konzole – Jaguar+CD – CD a virtuální realita již tento rok?". LeveL (in Czech). No. 6. Naked Dog, s.r.o. p. 44. Archived from the original on September 20, 2018. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  13. ^ EA Canada (December 9, 1994). OverDrivin' (3DO Interactive Multiplayer) (in Japanese). Electronic Arts Victor.
  14. ^ EA Canada (1996). Over Drivin' DX (PlayStation) (in Japanese). Electronic Arts Victor.
  15. ^ a b Levy, Stuart; Semrad, Ed (November 1996). "Behind the Screens at the Tokyo Game Show". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 88. Ziff Davis. pp. 156–7.
  16. ^ EA Canada (1996). Over Drivin' GT-R (Sega Saturn) (in Japanese). Electronic Arts Victor.
  17. ^ EA Canada (1997). Over Drivin' Skyline Memorial (PlayStation) (in Japanese). Electronic Arts Victor.
  18. ^ House, Michael L. "Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed – Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  19. ^ Sackenheim, Shawn. "Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed – Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  20. ^ Patterson, Mark; Lord, Gary (January 1995). "The Need for Speed". Computer and Video Games. No. 158. pp. 94–95. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  21. ^ Lomas, Ev (May 1996). "The Need for Speed". Computer and Video Games. No. 174. p. 80. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  22. ^ "The Need for Speed". Edge. No. 16. January 1995. p. 62. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  23. ^ a b "The Need for Speed Review". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 69. Sendai Publishing. April 1995. p. 38.
  24. ^ a b "Box Score: Need for Speed". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 82. Sendai Publishing. May 1996. p. 118.
  25. ^ a b "ProReview: The Need for Speed". GamePro. No. 92. IDG. May 1996. p. 58.
  26. ^ a b Varner, Jim. The Need for Speed review Archived May 17, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. GameSpot. May 28, 1996.
  27. ^ "Need for Speed". IGN. November 26, 1996. Archived from the original on March 6, 2002. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  28. ^ Marcus; Gus (August 1996). "The Need for Speed". Mean Machines Sega. No. 46. pp. 66–67. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  29. ^ a b "Every PlayStation Game Played, Reviewed, and Rated". Next Generation. No. 25. Imagine Media. January 1997. p. 59.
  30. ^ a b "Every Sega Saturn Game Played, Reviewed, and Rated". Next Generation. No. 25. Imagine Media. January 1997. p. 64.
  31. ^ a b "Finals". Next Generation. No. 2. Imagine Media. February 1995. p. 90.
  32. ^ a b "Maximum Reviews: Need for Speed". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. No. 5. Emap International Limited. April 1996. p. 156.
  33. ^ a b Butt, Damian (October 1995), "The Need for Speed", PC Power, no. 22, pp. 38–41
  34. ^ a b Allsetter, Rob (July 1996). "Review: The Need for Speed". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 9. Emap International Limited. pp. 64–65.
  35. ^ Gallup UK PlayStation sales chart, August 1996, published in Official UK PlayStation Magazine issue 9
  36. ^ "ProReview: Road & Track Presents the Need for Speed". GamePro. No. 68. IDG. March 1995. p. 94.
  37. ^ Need for Speed review, Official UK PlayStation Magazine, April 1996, issue 5, page 66.
  38. ^ "ProReview: The Need for Speed". GamePro. No. 96. IDG. September 1996. p. 72.
  39. ^ Staff (June 1996). "The Computer Gaming World 1996 Premier Awards". Computer Gaming World. No. 143. pp. 55, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66, 67.
  40. ^ "Top 100 Games of All Time" (PDF). GamesMaster (44): 75. July 1996.
  41. ^ "The GameMasters 3DO Top 10" (PDF). GamesMaster (44): 75. July 1996.
  42. ^ "Top 100 Sega Saturn Games" (PDF). Saturn Power (9): 95. January 1998.

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