It was released in 1994 for the Panasonic 3DO, in 1995 for Microsoft DOS, with its final release in 1996 for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn.
The gameplay of The Need for Speed follows a realistic premise. Road and Track magazine has provided EA with real data about the cars featured in the final game.
Each car has a different style of handling, performance, sounds and braking. The realistic gameplay was found to be simple for new players to pick up and play without much frustration at the start of play. Plus, each car could be driven in cockpit view.
There are four different types of races in the game. Police and traffic only appear in Head To Head mode.
- Head To Head - A duel between two racers in a Point A to Point B track. This is the only mode that features traffic cars and cops (when open road course is selected).
- Single Race - Players compete with up to seven opponents on either circuit or sprint tracks. In this mode players can select the number of oppoents, laps, etc.
- Time Trial - Players must beat a set time record in a track to win.
- Tournament - The player has to collect as many points as possible to succeed in a series of tracks. The player earns higher points by finishing closer to pole position at the end of a race.
No car in the title can drive off-road as the title uses blocking volumes to keep players on the track. This also prevents players from cheating by taking shortcuts in events.
Racers can be arrested by police on open road tracks. If a racer gets caught then they'll receive a ticket. When a racer receives three tickets (two tickets in the Sega Saturn version) they are arrested.
Cars included in The Need for Speed are divided into three classes with each representing different performance brackets such as speed and handling. It is impossible to modify the cars in any way.
Players can also access a Showcase Mode of each car. There it is possible to check general, historical, mechanical and performance information as well as a slideshow and short presentation video regarding the vehicle. The information screens are all commented by an announcer.
The Need for Speed features licenced traffic vehicles.
The Need for Speed: Special EditionA Special Edition of The Need for Speed was released in 1996 which included additional content missing from the original PC release.
Nissan Presents: Over Drivin' DXA localised release of The Need for Speed in 1996 was made available for PlayStation in Japan, and features all of the same content as the original release but with a Japanese language option.
Nissan Presents: Over Drivin' GT-RA localised release of The Need for Speed in 1996 was made available for Sega Saturn in Japan, and features only Nissan cars.
Nissan Presents: Over Drivin' Skyline Memorial
A localised re-release of Over Drivin' DX in 1997 was made available for PlayStation in Japan following the Sega Saturn release, and features only Nissan Skyline models.
- Need for Speed: ProStreet, Need for Speed: Shift, and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010) are partially inspired by The Need for Speed.
|Need for Speed Series|
|Games||The Need for Speed • II • III: Hot Pursuit • High Stakes • Porsche Unleashed • Motor City Online • Hot Pursuit 2 • Underground • Underground 2 • Most Wanted (2005) • Carbon • ProStreet • Undercover • Shift • Nitro • World • Hot Pursuit (2010) • Shift 2: Unleashed • The Run • Most Wanted (2012) • Rivals • Need for Speed (2015) • Edge • Need for Speed (2017)|
|Handheld||Underground Rivals • Most Wanted 5-1-0 • Carbon: Own The City • Hot Pursuit (iOS) • No Limits|
|Compilations||The Need for Speed Collection • Collector's Series|
|Films||Need for Speed|