Need for Speed: Nitro

Common Sense Media says

Average street racer makes players flout driving laws.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's a pretty strong anti-authority message in this game. It is clearly stated, both by the narrator and by a disclaimer before the game starts, that street racing is illegal. But in the game, the police are treated as bad guys -- or at the very least wet blankets who want to spoil everybody's street racing fun. If the police try to pull you over, you either outrun them, run them off the road, or sic them on one of your opponents. Also, racing well down a stretch of road can magically color it with what is referred to in the game as graffiti. No one is ever seen spraying the graffiti. One type of competition rates drivers by how fast they can blow through police speed traps. Note, too, that since drivers are never shown injured after crashes that kids could get the impression that high speed car accidents aren't necessarily all that serious.

Positive role models

The racers in this game flout authority, perform illegal acts, show no concern for destruction of property, and drive recklessly.

Ease of play

There are multiple control schemes players can choose for this game -- and they are not all created equal. The horizontal remote "wheel style" works very smoothly. The one-handed steering style proves incredibly difficult to use.


Points are awarded for crashing into destructible objects, such as street signs and cacti. Police cars slam into racers in an attempt to slow them down; racers can, in turn, bang into police cars and sometimes cause them to crash. No one is seen getting hurt and everyone appears to keep driving even after a crash.


If children pay attention to the lyrics in the soundtrack songs they might catch some suggestive material.


One song in the soundtrack uses the word "skank."


All the playable cars in the game are real makes and models from real-world car companies. Expect to see lots of logos: Toyota, Ford, Chevy, Nissan, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this colorful, fast-paced racing game centers around illegal street racing. Racers willfully break the law, evade -- and sometimes fight back against -- police who try to stop them, destroy property, and run roadblocks. The developers include disclaimers before the game starts, which explain the dangers and illegality of street racing. They also remind players to wear safety belts in real life. Still, the police are treated as bad guys -- or at the very least wet blankets who want to spoil everybody's street racing fun. None of the drivers are ever hurt during the game, but that might give younger players the erroneous impression that high speed crashes aren't necessarily a serious thing.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

In NEED FOR SPEED: NITRO drivers compete in an illegal street racing circuit in an attempt to earn enough money to get out of the dangerous lives they're stuck in. Races take place all around the world, in exotic locales like Rio and Egypt. Police cars try to shut down the competitions and often meet resistance from the drivers. As wins are racked up, players can buy newer, faster cars and upgrade the ones they have.

Is it any good?


Need for Speed: Nitro is a decent racing game, and certainly fun in an adrenaline-rush kind of way, but doesn't bring that much new to the racing genre. If you've played lots of racing games before, you'll find many of the standard elements here: Earn points and power for drifting around tight corners; use a nitro boost for quick bursts of speed; start with a Volkswagen van and earn money to buy better cars as you go along. Being able to paint and customize the looks of your cars is one very nice bonus feature. None of this means NFS: Nitro is a bad game at all, though, and it makes a very nice introduction to the genre for gamers who are new to racing sims.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the importance of abiding by traffic laws, how defensive driving keeps people safe in real life, and the need for seat belts.

  • Parents can also ask their children how they feel playing a criminal in a video game. Do they have fun doing things in a game that they know they never could or should do in real life? Is there a catharsis in it? Or does it teach kids the wrong lessons?

  • Parents who have teens learning to drive may want to consider a study that suggests playing some racing games can lead to taking more driving risks in real life and share it with their children.

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:November 3, 2009
Topics:Sports and martial arts
ESRB rating:E10+ for Mild Lyrics, Mild Violence (Nintendo Wii)

This review of Need for Speed: Nitro was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byvanessapawprints12 December 18, 2009
well it's great if you know your kids or family are mature
Teen, 13 years old Written bySemperFidelis November 9, 2013

Good racing game

Make sure your child knows that street racing is wrong (they probably do know). If you let your kid play Mario Kart then this should be fine. What I just didn't like was how unrealistic the cars looked.
Adult Written byDrake123432 July 3, 2011

Not bad at all

This is a fun arcade game. It does include police chasing but nothing compared to other Need For Speed games. If your kid knows that street racing is illegal and wrong there are no concerns about this game.


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