International Report – Stickers

International Report – Stickers


Need For Speed Underground a Hit in Japan


Hiroshi Sawada (the blonde) is a rabid car enthusiast who seemingly has no problem creating ways for young Japanese street-racing fans to violate their vehicles. With Need for Speed Underground taking even EA by surprise with its massive success, we’re happy to see its influence reach overseas, too.

Considering that it was the Japanese who took the notion of a hot rod and turned it into an underground tuning-car culture in Japan, it’s interesting to see things come full circle with a line of real-life specialty-market vinyls based on Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed Underground. We talk to Art Factory Graphics’ Hiroshi Sawada to discuss his company’s sticky new product.

GMR: Why did you decide to make Need for Speed Underground-inspired vinyls?

HS: The NFSU unique in-game vinyls inspired me to do this. Seeing Japanese-style graphics created from a North American point of view was cool and unique to me.

GMR: In America, we have the impression that street racing is big in Japan, but supposedly it’s kind of small. Do you see the genre growing in the future?

HS: Yes, because it is getting more popular. Of course, on the streets, it is not that easy. People do not bet money here, but friends gather and the racing begins. Japanese roads are narrow, so I think that is why we have developed strong drifting techniques.

GMR: What kind of car do you drive personally?

HS: I drive a Honda CRX Del Sol and a Toyota Supra. The Del Sol was not popular in Japan; it was too heavy for a compact car. Japanese people are too obsessed with driving fast (like with the GT-R). But I think if a car is cool enough it could even change your lifestyle—and that is a great thing. A Honda engine sound and a great audio system is cool enough for anyone! A bit of trivia about the car: In Japan the CRX had a unique transtop system. Did you know that? My Supra is a 2 replica, officially. It’s the base model, not the turbo version, but it’s still pretty cool with a wide body and 20-inch OZ racing rims. Which are reasonable to buy here in Japan.

GMR: If you could add one thing to Need for Speed Underground, what would it be?

HS: How about online shopping in the game? You could buy licensed parts like racing heart wheels, etc., and even NFSU-original parts! I think people would really like this. If there are parts that you only could buy online in the game, I think it would be exciting!

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in GMR Magazine.