In light of the release of the new 2023 Nissan Z, we think it’s relevant to take a trip down memory lane, gaming style. This sports car has been in racing games for decades, tugging at many of our heartstrings long before we could ever afford to buy a real one. While you’re waiting and saving to buy this new model, it’s only fair that you revisit some of the Z’s most memorable video game appearances. Most of us have spent more time driving one of these in-game than in real life, so let’s recap these top 5 best Nissan Z gaming cameos while we wait on the real thing.
Midnight Club III: DUB Edition REMIX
Back in 2005, the Nissan Z made its way into Midnight Club III: Dub Edition REMIX. For a mere $36,666 (of in-game money), you can take this car onto the streets of San Diego, California, as it appeared in the early 2000s. This is a street racing game, though, not a track racer. So, you can play it cool, obeying traffic laws and driving casually, or go wild, knocking signs down everywhere and making pedestrians curse you out. Oh, the fun!
The best part about this game is that since it’s made by Rockstar Games, it’s basically a carbon copy of Grand Theft Auto without all the murder and havoc. Think of this game as GTA’s street racing mechanic, exported and made better. It’s like a PG version of GTA, which may not sound fun now, but it was a bomb for young kids who wished they could play the real deal.
The Nissan Z’s role in this game is nice, as it’s affordable and possible to get this car earlier. However, don’t let its accessibility fool you. That status doesn’t make it any less race-capable, just like in real life! The only negative to this car in-game is that it doesn’t hold up as well to damage. However, given its price and its performance specs, it’s a steal.
This car is specifically noted for its “slipstreaming” ability. In short, this means that you can easily gain momentum by drafting the vehicle in front of you, then slipstream them by using that air to gain speed. It feels like a mini turbocharge. Just don’t get too close to the vehicle you are following, or you’ll risk causing a wreck.
The Nissan Z is also one of the best models in Midnight Club III to use the “ZONE” slow-motion feature with. Overall, this is one of the Nissan Z’s earliest and most impressive in-game appearances.
Need for Speed Underground
The Nissan Z showed up in-game even earlier than 2005, thanks to Need for Speed in 2003. NFS switches things up in their Underground game with the fictional town, Olympic City. Instead of cruising familiar streets, you’re immersed in a fictional driving paradise. This area includes six different locations that you can drive the Nissan Z around in.
So, what are the Z’s specs like in this game? Impressive, given that it’s one of its earliest in-game debuts. In NFS: Underground, a stock Nissan Z can go 0 to 60 MPG in 6.16 seconds, with a top speed of 155 and 287 horsepower. When you fully upgrade your Nissan Z model in this game, it can go from 0 to 60 in as little as 3.76 seconds, it has a top speed of 222 MPH, and it produces as much as 523 horsepower. So, you can definitely take this car from being a moderate starter model to an impressive racer, fast.
You can customize this car just like any other vehicle in the game. However, on the PC version of Underground, you can unlock a special edition Rob Zombie version of the 350Z! They also continue to add this car into other Underground games, and it’s even on the front cover of NFS: Underground 2. Whether you want to get neon underglow, side flames, or both, there’s plenty of ways to make the Nissan Z yours in NFS: Underground.
Gran Turismo 5
The first Gran Turismo game to include online racing, Gran Turismo 5 is one of the most impressive racing games for the Playstation 3. There are over 950 cars available in this game, giving the Nissan Z much more room for expansion. Unlike other games before it, this game offers multiple Nissan Z variants. In 2010, Gran Turismo 5 introduced not one, but six Nissan Z models. These include the following:
- Amuse NISMO 380RS Super Leggera
- Nissan XANAVI Nismo Z (SUPER GT) ‘06
- Gran Turismo 350Z RS
- Nissan Fairlady Z 300ZX (Z32) ’89
- Nissan Fairlady Z ’08
- Nissan Fairlady Z Version S (Z33) ’07
Basically, the NISMO Z 380RS and Super GT models are designed specifically for track racing. These race cars versions of the Z are used in real-life, professional track races in Japan. The 350Z RS, Fairlady Z ’07, and ’08 models look most like the Z we know and love. While the racetrack models aren’t meant for the public, these models look just like a Nissan Z you’d purchase on the market today. Aesthetically, they actually have a lot in common with the new 2023 Nissan Z, with the main difference being the front bumper design.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this game is that they throw it back to the old Fairlady Z models. You can drive an old 1989 twin-turbo Fairlady Z in this game. Despite its age, this model still goes for 39,500 credits in-game.
Gran Turismo 5 is different from the previously mentioned games because it focuses on real, legal racing scenarios. In this game, rather than cruising the streets and avoiding cops, you’re focused on track racing. Due to this, you’re able to access actual race cars like the NISMO Nissan Z models included here.
Want to see a modern, pimped-up version of the Nissan Z? Check out the 2019 Need for Speed: Heat game. Unlike classic games, Heat does an update called a “Car Drop,” which lands you multiple new vehicle options. In one of their drops, they added 13 new cars, one of which is the Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition. For a mere $92,500 dollars of game money (pocket change, of course), you can drive one of these beasts around Palm City, where you can tour the city, along with the “Scenic Route,” and much more. You’ll also get to drive a 2008 version of the 350Z, which comes standard with the game.
The 370Z Heritage edition pumps out as much as 950 horses when it’s fully customized. You can add on all sorts of aftermarket aesthetic customization options to your Nissan Z models in this game as well. When you’re ready to pack some real heat on the road, check out this NFS game and get the Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition and do what you can’t do in real life; street race.
The Real Thing is Back and Better Than Ever
Think you had fun with the Z in these games? Just wait until you pick up your 2023 Nissan Z and drive it in real life. You’ll get to have the cockpit experience for real, thanks to racing driver gauges, Launch Control, and performance seating. Just remember that pedestrians and signs are not meant to be hit, so don’t go all Midnight Club III on us. In real life, save the racing for the track. That said, still feel free to add some underglow lighting, customize those rims, and proudly show off your sporty new ride.