The Need for Speed series was originally developed by Distinctive Software, a game studio based in Vancouver, Canada. Prior to Electronic Arts' purchase of the company in 1991, it had already created popular racing games such as Stunts and Test Drive II: The Duel. After the purchase was made, the company was renamed EA Canada. The company capitalized on its experience in the domain when it began developing the Need For Speed series in late 1992.
Electronic Arts Canada continued to develop and expand the Need For Speed franchise for many years. In 2002, another Vancouver-based gaming company, named Black Box Games, was contracted to continue the series with the title Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. Black Box Games was acquired by Electronic Arts shortly before the game's publication and the company was renamed Electronic Arts Black Box and became a part of EA Canada. Since then EA Black Box has been NFS's primary developer.
Need for Speed II featured some of the rarest and most exotic vehicles ever available, including the Ford Indigo concept vehicle, and features country-themed tracks from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. A new racing mode was also introduced in NFS II dubbed Knockout, where the last racers to finish laps will be eliminated until the only leading racer remains, and wins.
Many fans of the first edition of Need for Speed were disappointed to find NFS II was arcade-like instead of preserving the realism of NFS. Though the gameplay was arcade-like, the levels were intricately well designed. In addition, track design was more open-ended; players could now "drive" off the asphalt, and even cut across fields to take advantage of shortcuts.
The PlayStation port of NFS II is the first PlayStation game to take advantage of not only the NeGcon controller, but both the Dual Analog and the DualShock controllers as well.
The special edition of NFS II, Need for Speed II: Special Edition includes one extra track, extra cars, and support for Glide, the then-burgeoning 3D graphics standard used in 3dfx's Voodoo and Voodoo 2 graphics cards.