"Need for Speed Underground" is a video game released for the Gameboy Advance console in 2004 by Electronic Arts. It is a racing game based on the "Need for Speed" series. In the United States, the game received a rating of "E" by the ESRB panel which deemed it suitable for all ages.
The storyline of this title focuses on street racing. Aligning himself with an underground organization, the player's character competes in a series of events with the sole intention of increasing his rank and winning cash prizes. There are numerous "events" which each feature 10 "competitions" and these competitions include full racing circuits, drag racing and "sprint" races which require the player to compete within half of a lap. A higher ranking will award the player with in-game cash and this cash is exchanged for performance upgrades and tints. Customization is a key aspect in this title as there are several decals, paint jobs and window tints which create seemingly endless possibilities for enhancement. The races take place in urban settings with a sense of realism including pedestrians and traffic which must be avoided. The penalties aren't severe for colliding with a fellow motorist. In fact, besides the slight loss of speed for a brief moment, it seems to be a silently encouraged part of play.
The graphics are presented from a trailing view of the player's vehicle. The images are rendered to be three dimensional but this ends up being both a praise and a criticism. The vehicles are excellent and detailing and any applied upgrade, such as a paint job or body decal, is clearly visible while racing but this visually pleasing atmosphere does not transfer to the race courses. The tracks are often exceptionally pixelated and it is difficult to follow where the road boundaries are and see any upcoming turns. The soundtrack can also be perceived as being hit and miss. The music features compressed snippets of artists such as Lil Jon and Static-X and are selected at random prior to engaging in play. The sound effects, however, are much more appealing to a wider audience with higher quality engine revs and screeches.
Overall, Need For Speed Underground is a great racing title which I would recommend to prospective buyers. It is held back by some of its poorer visuals but remains an enjoyable play despite this.