Madeleine de Prost: The Need For Speed (1994)

Madeleine de Prost: The Need For Speed (1994)

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It’s Wednesday, March 20, 1996, 9am. After a 2-hour wait, elbowing with the most impatient, we finally get our hands on the holy grail. The Need for Speed is right there in front of us, subtly displayed on the shelves of the local game store. On the cover, you can instantly make out a Lamborghini Diablo wheel doing a burn-out. Okay, that sets the tone for our need for speed.

The need for speed game cover with Lamborghini Diablo burning wheel
CD Playstation the need for speed bonze on white background
French version of the need for speed game cover with text and images

We leave the store at a brisk pace, with an empty wallet, but with the aim of setting the fastest time to the sofa. After tossing the Airwalk and Adidas jacket into the hallway, we carefully insert the disc into the PS1 drive.

launch sequence Sony logo on white background and Playstation on black background

We are holding your breath as the start-up screen and the iconic Sony console launch sound seamlessly follow one another. That’s where the first slap in the face comes in the form of an introductory video featuring Dodge Viper, Ferrari 512 TR, Mazda RX7 and all the best exotic automobiles of the day. 30 seconds of mechanical bliss where you can almost smell the burnt tire tickling your nostrils.

The menu appears and the serious business begins. No room for the superfluous, just four game modes: time trial, head to head, single race and tournament. Light is right, as Colin Chapman used to say. The call of the road is too strong, so we go head-to-head.

Among the 8 routes, we opt for exoticism, sand and palm trees with the Coastal route. It’s one of 3 “open” circuits where you can drive at full speed among the BMW E30s, Honda CRXs and Volkswagen Jettas that make up the game’s traffic, among others. The principle here is simple: complete a point-to-point route as quickly as possible. All the while avoiding being caught by the police, a mission widely accepted.

Rear view of red Toyota Supra MK4 turbo on beach road in the need for speed game
Need for speed game control menu with red toyota supra and text
Lamborghini Diablo driving position overtaking a BMW E30 in the need for speed
Black Lamborghini Diablo skids off the road in need for speed game

Despite a certain choice of atypical cars (eight, not bad for the time), we’re stuck with an American-Italian duel with the idols of our childhood, the ones that used to line our bedroom walls in XL posters: the Viper RT-10 versus the Diablo GT. That’s when the second slap in the face comes, just as the race begins. Photo-reproduced dashboards, manual gear changes and sampled engine notes create a daydream, the sensation of actually being behind the wheel.

At the start of each race, you must shift from neutral to first gear to start the car, even if automatic transmission was previously selected in the options menu. Each car has a different driving style, sound and performance. You’re excited as you go from one game to the next, the kilometers fly by, and the smile on your face stays the same.

Suddenly, a latent pain is felt, and it becomes stronger and stronger. It is characterized by itchy eyes, the sensation that our eyes are on fire. We glance at the analog clock above the room, which reads 11:30 pm.


The first Need for Speed was developed by Canadian company Distinctive Software, which later became EA Canada. The series debuted in North America, Japan and Europe in 1994 on 3DO, followed shortly afterwards by versions for PC (DOS) (1995), PlayStation and SEGA Saturn (1996). It incorporates third- and first-person perspectives and innovative 3D graphics.

Most cars and tracks are available at the start of the game, and the aim is to unlock the rest of the locked content by winning tournaments. This first Need for Speed featured police car chases, which have remained a popular theme throughout the series with the so-called “Hot Pursuit” editions (Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, Need for Speed: High Stakes, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Need for Speed: Carbon and Need for Speed: Undercover). The initial version also featured an obnoxious opponent who would not hesitate to taunt the player if the computer won the race or if the player was stopped (after being ticketed several times).

Advertising need for speed game red text on engine background
The need for speed red Playstation CD

Electronic Arts has teamed up with the automotive magazine Road & Track to reproduce vehicle behavior as faithfully as possible, including engine sounds. The game also includes accurate vehicle data with voice commentary, several magazine-style images of each car’s interior and exterior, and even short video clips featuring the vehicles.

Some of the game’s 6 circuits are open, which means you can simply take to the highway with the cops on your tail. One of the game’s options lets you choose the time of day you’d like to race.

8 cars make up the garage in this opus:

Where can I find the game?

The original version has become a hard-to-find collector’s item. You’ll have to be patient and turn to your favorite classified ad sites to hope to find a used one in good condition.

It is also available HERE

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