The Decline of Need for Speed

The Need for Speed series has been respected and revered as one of the best arcade racing franchises ever developed. It has the numbers to back it up as well, as Need for Speed is the fifth best selling video game franchise of all time, behind only Mario, Pokemon, Tetris, and The Sims.

Despite achieving such success, the series has developed a bit of a bad reputation among reviewers and the general public alike over the past few years by repeatedly releasing games in the series which share very few common similarities except rushed development times and generally poor reviews.

Generally, the Need for Speed franchise is losing more steam as it continues to evolve into the unstoppable beast of the racing game genre, pumping out at least two games a year now. To reflect the decline in the games’ quality, here are the metascores for each Need for Speed game in chronological order, oldest to newest.

The Need for Speed – N/A (8.3 from Gamespot)
Need for Speed II – 71
Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit – 88
Need for Speed: High Stakes – 86
Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed – 78
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit II – 89
Need for Speed: Underground – 85
Need for Speed: Underground 2 – 82
Need for Speed: Most Wanted – 82
Need for Speed: Carbon – 74
Need for Speed: ProStreet – 62
Need for Speed: Undercover – 59
Need for Speed: Nitro – 68
Need for Speed: SHIFT – 84

With the exception of SHIFT’s success, the Need for Speed series has almost been in a steady decline since 2002. That is eight years of Need for Speed titles being consistently worse, barely even ranking above “average” since ProStreet in 2007.

Two more games in the Need for Speed franchise will be released this year. The first, due out next month, is Need for Speed World, a PC MMO. From what I understand, a beta began quite recently and the general consensus is that the game is unfortunately very bad. A low metascore is pretty much a sure thing with NFS World, unfortunately.

The second game coming this year may help get the staggering series back strongly on two feet (or four wheels?). Currently titled Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, it is the third game in the Hot Pursuit sub-series. The previous two Hot Pursuit titles scored 88 and 89 on Metacritic, the two highest scores that the series has received on the ranking and scoring website.

Electronic Arts is playing it smart with Hot Pursuit III. They know what works and what the core fans of the series enjoys most, and that’s the Hot Pursuit aspect of the franchise. While Carbon, ProStreet, Undercover and Nitro were interesting experiments, they can be considered failures due to being the lowest scoring games in the series since Need for Speed II, a thirteen year old game that hadn’t even found it’s footing or decided yet what it wanted to be.

Hot Pursuit III, ultimately, will be the game that decides whether or not Need for Speed will continue to be successful in the long term. NFS World will inevitably bomb judging by the comments by beta testers, and if Hot Pursuit III follows suit, then I’m afraid that Need for Speed’s time will almost be over.

If the new Hot Pursuit works out and happens to be a success, I truly hope that Electronic Arts will see the light and base all future Need for Speed games on the Hot Pursuit formula. After all, it has worked pretty darn well for the two games based around it.

To conclude the post, here are videos of Hot Pursuit, Hot Pursuit II, and what I assume will be named Hot Pursuit III. It’s quite cool to play them all at the same time and check out how the series has evolved in terms of gameplay and graphics.

Return to June 2010 Articles

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Mushihime-sama (Review)

“Definitely not your grandmother’s shoot ’em up.”

Today I’m looking at, well, the wild game you see the logo of above, Mushihime-sama for the Playstation 2. This game has become very infamous online as the game with the “hardest video game boss ever.” Search it up on YouTube, it’s very easy to find.

Mushihime-sama is, as you can tell, a fast paced shoot ’em up that was only released in Japan. Now, I know what you’re thinking, that it can’t be that fast. The game truthfully is quite fast, even being challenging at five frames per second. The game makes it very clear to the player who it’s target audience is, and that would be the hardcore fans of the genre who love to have their screens filled with projectiles and explosions at least 97% of the time.

Gameplay is fast and hectic. I found the higher difficulties to be too extreme, and I didn’t want to show myself dying constantly to you guys, so I opted to play on the easiest difficulty setting so that I could see more of the game in a shorter period of time. it was still quite a handful at normal difficulty, and I found myself dying left and right, particularly on the third stage.

Since I know no Japanese at all, I’m not familiar with how the power-ups or weapon settings really work in this game, but I can tell that the more flashing orbs you collect, the more potent your weapons seem to become. You are also equipped with several devastating bombs that destroy everything in their path, unless you happen to be firing them at a boss, in which case the bomb will have little to no effect. Bosses are very exciting and fun to fight in this game as they throw wave after wave of projectiles at you, each one looking more intimidating and impossible to dodge than the last. Since I was playing the Playstation 2 version of this game, I had the luxury of having unlimited continues, which I can safely say you will most certainly need.

Graphics are not easy to comment on, because everything happens so fast and the things I wanted to look at were usually obscured by explosions and projectiles flying all around. I can say that the stage backgrounds look quite good for a PS2 game, and bosses look very well done with lots of detail. Menus are very straight forward and thankfully the main menu itself is in English so it is very easy to navigate.

It’s difficult to review a game like this. The gameplay is simple, and we all know what it’s about. There are no major innovations to be found, the game is just a straight up bullet hell shoot ’em up that will proudly beat you into oblivion. Overall, it stands above most games of it’s kind and is certainly above average. The gameplay is fast and mesmerizing, and the intoxicating music sucks you into the experience even more. If you are a fan of shoot ’em ups and are able to get your hands on Mushihime-sama, do yourself a favour and seize the opportunity. Try this game out, because it’s good fun and a great way to pass time on those rainy days.

Final Score

7/10