Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Need For Speed: Most Wanted (Nintendo DS) Review

Following Need For Speed Underground 2's launch alongside the DS way back in March, EA have deemed it necessary to release a new iteration already, hopefully taking advantage of the console better than they did first time round. Can they manage it?

The answer to that is sadly a deafening ‘no’. Now, here at Cubed3 we pride ourselves on our fairness and open mindedness towards the games we play, but there’s only a certain amount of ‘nice’ we can do when confronted with something with so many problems; it’s a terrible shame after the partial success of the previous Need For Speed on the DS.

You enter the city with your aim being to be the best racer you can be. Options immediately at your disposal include altering the looks of your ride and partaking in quick races, multiplayer races (which is two player multicart only – quite unforgivable considering some games can handle more players off one cartridge with more detail) and career game, the main mode. You take on 15 different racers through a series of challenges to become the best driver in the land and earn money to make your motor equally as impressive, all the while avoiding the ever present police, intent upon catching you with your boy-racer antics.

The amount of customisation is pretty immense, and there’s a somewhat broad range of vehicles that you can buy and subsequently ‘bling up’. There’re a lot of upgrades that you can put your car through to improve its appearance and, presumably, their performance, and the decal maker isn’t too offensive, though it has a glitch or two which causes it to draw lines where you didn’t tell it to – nevertheless, we got a lovely Pac-Man wakka-wakkaing onto the side of our Lexus IS300 in no time.

Screenshot for Need For Speed: Most Wanted on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The environments aren’t too offensive on the eye, but there’s no denying that the DS can do far, far better, and likely did during the previous version on the platform (though we don’t have a version of the older game on hand to do a complete comparison). There’s a fair amount of tracks, though they can be hard to tell apart sometimes due to the similar settings and get a bit boring, which isn’t helped by the Career Mode’s overuse of the same tracks, either. The design of the tracks can be infuriating, too, with ridiculous curves that are difficult to navigate without a bump for all but the masters of the game.

The first race we had didn’t set high hopes, with the ‘handling’ being more akin to spinning about on ice with no grips on our tyres – fair enough if we were racing in cold weather or in a torrent of rain, but the setting is blatantly dry and looks to be in the middle of summer. Thankfully, it starts to feel better after a couple of races (this may have been due to our change of car) and you can turn fairly easily, though you soon learn it’s easier to totally ignore the brakes and just hold down the accelerator, lightly tapping the d-pad when you want to turn.

Where one issue such as the one mentioned above disappears though, another one spawns in its place. To accommodate for your newfound partial-mastery of the age-old art of steering, the game enjoys blatantly cheating. Now, Mario Kart levels of cheating are acceptable, we’ve come to expect the rampant abuse of weaponary pummelling into our rear wheels, but in a serious racer you do not expect to be driving along happily in first place, checking the map to see your opponents trailing far behind you, only for you to slightly misjudge a corner and have the opponent speeding past you at a rate that was obviously way above its original capacity, and once one car has passed you the others aren’t far behind. It’s horrid to see techniques like this used to artificially raise the difficulty of the game and one that left a bitter taste in our mouths. It’s times like this that we wish for a blue shell…

Screenshot for Need For Speed: Most Wanted on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The police aren't much better. They'll often zoom in for no real reason once you've reached first position and proceed to hassle you until an opponent closes in on you, who then zips in front of you using the aforementioned method. The 'busts' are ludicrous as well, with police cars dropping long, spiky speed traps, which cover most of the road right in front of you. If you're unlucky enough to be caught in one of these, you're unceremoniously thrusted into one of two mini-games, which helpfully pause the action and wait patiently as you're forced to remove the stylus from its holster and take part in the game to try and negate the bust, or suffer a penalty. While this is irritating, it wouldn't be so bad if the mini-games were worth it, but they're a barefaced misuse of the touch screen, involving you tapping a card to see if you get a 'get out of jail free card', or spinning a wheel to get the appropriate amount of revs-per-minute to escape. Both of these 'games' take up a whole three seconds of playtime, and just serve to annoy. Nice attempt at touch screen use, but no cigar.

There is a more interesting side to the police though, and a great diversion from your progression through career mode. Should you finish a race on a full 'Heat Metre' (the higher it is, the more the police pursue you), you'll be challenged to a race by the police. If you can successfully beat them while avoiding being busted, you'll be given exclusive parts or more points to use to customise your car, but if you lose they take away all your points from the previous race. While the opponent still cheats, it's a reasonably interesting distraction and a welcomed addition.

Screenshot for Need For Speed: Most Wanted on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Presentation-wise, where EA usually shine brightly, it’s not much better. The text used is pixelated and blurry, far too difficult to read. As a result we passed over the text a lot of the time, as it was fairly easy to work out what had to be done due to the limited amount of mission types (time trials, point-to-point races and circuit races are the most popular choices). In a complete contrast to the comment earlier about the environments, the vehicles are infuriatingly under detailed, basic models. The amount of traffic is dismal as well, with cars only appearing every-so-often even with ‘heavy’ traffic switched on. There is at least some semblance of lighting, but it makes you wonder what could’ve been done if they’d spent more time on it and not put it out just in time for the Christmas rush. At least the sound fares a little better; the music on boss stages can be quite catchy in a bizarre way, and the car sounds could’ve been worse.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted’s final, if not biggest, crime relates to more presentation issues. Cars appear and disappear off the road at times, perhaps to keep the game going at a steady frame rate – as you finish a point-to-point race behind other cars, you can see them disappear instantly as soon as they cross the target. However, our particular favourite moment was when, in a display that caused us to think a Chief Wiggum-esque ‘oh my God, it’s a ghost car!’, a police officer’s humble motorcar quite literally appeared out of thin air and attacked us.

It’s hard to see many good points about the game. It can be fun at times, but these times are too far apart, and as it stands its DS predecessor is more worthy of a purchase. Most Wanted? Only for crimes against the DS.

Screenshot for Need For Speed: Most Wanted on Nintendo DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


There are far too many issues for it to be considered good. Poor handling (though it gets better the more you play), magical appearing cars and miraculous speeding enemies do not make for a fair game.


Basic car models and lack of vehicles on the road, though the environments aren't as bad as they could've been.


Catchy music occasionally, but it all sounds a bit samey. The sound effects seem to load faster than necessary, with the motor still going as you're stopping the car, but it's nothing crucifiable.


There’s a lot to be experimenting and tinkering with to achieve optimum performance during races, and there are a lot of stages to be beating – if you enjoy it, it’ll keep you busy for a while.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


About this score

'Flawed' is the nicest word that springs to mind when thinking of Need For Speed: Most Wanted. It's frustrating, as the groundwork for a decent game is definitely there, but it just seems to have been rushed and had poor touch screen uses tacked on. Go for Need For Speed Underground 2 if you're going to go for a serious racer on the DS.

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i've been having problems getting in since monday. tonight seems to be really bad for some reason, took me about 10mins and several hundred refreshs to get in.

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We'll be back and running full steam soon enough! :Smilie

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