The Need For Speed brand name has suffered as of late, but Electronic Arts hopes to buck the trend this fall when it releases “Need For Speed: NITRO” on Nintendo consoles Wii and DS. Blast sat down (kinda, sorta) with Gil Rimmer, Art Director at EA for the brand new IP and talked about the unique art director for the game (Wii) and how it plans to win our racing hearts over. Enjoy!
Blast: The Need For Speed franchise is one of the most famed, beloved, and recognizable racing experiences the video game world has ever seen, but since the coming of Nintendo’s Wii in 2006, the shiny white console has seen seemingly lackluster ports of high-end PS3/Xbox 360 versions. Can you explain the reasoning behind building a brand new IP from the ground up and designing it, visually, from the art style you chose to employ?
Rimmer: We set out to tailor the Need for Speed (NFS)‚ experience for the Wii, starting from the ground up, because we recognized the importance of understanding the console, which is very different from the PS3‚ or X360.‚ With NITRO, we studied and analyzed the Wii to capitalize on its strengths, delivering something new and unique. The art is there to complement and enhance the experience.
Blast: I’ve read the phrase “fresh and unique” as the main way to describe NITRO visually, can you explain what this quip exactly means, and how you’re going about achieving it?
Rimmer:Visually we are breaking ground as well. NFS is all about hardcore street racing in a realistically enhanced world. The Wii has a strong arcade foundation, stylized and bold visually. NITRO is all about bringing these two together. A good example is the vehicles. We pushed the proportions, aiming to achieve an extreme and aggressive visual edge, while at all times‚ maintaining the identity of each car. A NITRO Audi R8 has extreme proportions and added aggressiveness but still looks like an Audi R8.
Blast: Customization seems to be a trending topic across the entire spectrum of video games these days. What steps is NITRO making in the customizable department in regards to the vehicles in-game?
Rimmer:We wanted to not only provide the extensive range of customizing provided by traditional NFS titles, but to give the player something new and unique to the Wii.
Simply by manipulating the Wii remote you can choose brushes and paint your car like you would in a paintshop. Add decals and stickers or paint your own designs and apply them to your car.
For the ultimate bragging rights, you can design a unique art style to attach to your ride. As you overtake your competitors ,your art will overtake the world
To top it off we’ve collaborated with brands like tokidoki, I am 8-bit and Upper Playground! These brands provided NITRO with over 150 original designs including stickers, decals and preset cars.
Blast: I’ve always been a sucker for background environments as I cruise around at top speed, sometimes even stopping (when possible) to revel in the digital creation. What types of environments will gamers spend their time in in NITRO, and why should we be excited?
Rimmer: For locations we researched emerging race scenes. We also wanted to expose players to experience driving outside of a North American setting.
The cities we picked were Rio De Janeiro, Cairo, Madrid, Singapore and Dubai. Each city is visually unique so progressing through the game will be a fresh experience.
Blast: As a video game artist, what was your proudest accomplishment in the process of creating NITRO and why?
Rimmer: For me designing is knowing what you’re taking on, both artistically and technically.
I get the biggest kick from executing a vision successfully. So when I saw the lighting coming together after months of hard work from our talented art team, I was very pleased.
Blast: How does artistic design and its many faces change when constructing a “meant-for Wii” title, like NITRO?
Rimmer: Art and technology are co dependant on the Wii. Every time we wanted to add a feature or change a gameplay point we had to reconsider art and the visual impact. It’s a delicate balance and keeping artistic flexibility is key.
Blast: Your publisher EA also has another team diligently crafting “Shift” another series reboot, this time with emphasis on realism. What does NITRO offer, in its stylized beauty, that Shift, in its photo-realistic manner, cannot?
Rimmer: SHIFT is all about an authentic racing experience, NITRO is pure speed with a strong arcade feel.
NITRO has some amazing cop mechanics, fast paced tracks and aggressive competitors, all coming together to deliver an exciting, high-speed racing experience. It really is addictive!
Blast: Mario Kart is the unquestioned master and commander of the Wii racing space, so are you aiming to appeal to Kart’ers longing for a more serious racing title to gravitate to, or are you skirting the Kart sensation and attempting to tap into a new market with NITRO?
Rimmer: NITRO carves out its own place in the racing game world, be it on next gen or Wii.
NITRO is for any racer who’s looking for a fresh twist on the familiar racing game and at 60 FPS it really thrusts players into the centre of adrenaline-pumping speed and excitement.
Blast: As an ender, please explain why NITRO, from an artistic standpoint, is an attractive option for Wii racing fans everywhere.
Rimmer: Visually, NITRO is like nothing you’ve seen on the Wii! Not only can you customize a car to your every whim and fancy, but you’ll have access to art from some of the world’s most celebrated lifestyle brands in tokidoki, Upper Playground i am 8-bit.
If you want to know what it’s like to race fast and stylized cars through the streets of exotic destinations at 200 MPH with a push of a button – I suggest you pick up a copy of NFS NITRO. You’ll have a blast.
Need For Speed: NITRO hits shelves for DS and Wii November 17.