Beetle Adventure Racing was the lone attempt by Electronic Arts to bring a Need for Speed-like driving game to the Nintendo 64. Hardware limitations unfortunately prevented the now historic series of driving games from ever setting foot on the console notorious for it’s awkward controller, and design choices were made to appeal to the younger, more casual userbase instead – think of it as a Need for Speed: Nitro long before the Wii was even on Nintendo’s drawing board. Back in 1998, the Volkswagen Beetle was seeing a resurgence in popularity; the cover athlete for Microsoft’s own Midtown Madness, and the instigator for countless bruised arms during car rides with your buddies.
Except in Australia.
Electronic Arts at the time had a licensing deal with Holden, which saw the Aussie version of Need for Speed High Stakes packed with a few different HSV sedans (the Japanese version had an R34 Skyline by comparison), including Craig Lowndes’ 1999 Holden Commodore as an unlockable bonus car.
To capitalize on the popularity of the Holden brand in Oceania, and make use of the new licensing deal that would see the Aussie cars in titles as recent as 2005’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted, EA swapped the Beetle models out for the high performance sedan, changed all relevant artwork to reflect the new title of HSV Adventure Racing, and released what’s essentially a more badass version of an N64 cult classic just for the Aussie kids.
And for our European audience, a comparison between the two titles has been kindly posted by a German YouTuber displaying how similar the games are.