Ever since I got my new Mazda RX-8 in January, I've been reading all the import tuner magazines I can find, scouring enthusiast websites like RX8club.com, and scavenging performance parts stores for aftermarket exhausts, flywheels, lowering springs, and sway bars.

I've also been buying those import car videos you find in the miscellaneous section at Best Buy (NYSE:BBY). I even got 2 Fast 2 Furious on DVD. As you can see, the problem is serious.

But it's just this kind of enthusiasm that helped make Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ:ERTS) Need for Speed Underground the best-seller this past holiday season. Having sold more than 5 million copies of the original, EA announced Friday that a sequel is on the table for release this fall.

This time, the game will feature more than 30 licensed vehicles (the original had 20) while promising "deep new performance customization and tuning" from popular aftermarket parts manufacturers such as Apex, Greddy/Trust, HKS, AEM, and VeilSide. Combined with twice the visual customization upgrades as the first one, the game will provide "a staggering 70 billion possible car combinations."

Last month, we talked about the potential for Acclaim's (NASDAQ:AKLM) upcoming street racer, Juiced. But while that game should prove deeper in the parts selection process than the more arcade-friendly Need for Speed, Juiced is not a sure thing. On the other hand, with the strength of EA's brand and marketing, the Need for Speed brand itself, and the success of the first Underground game, NFS Underground 2 will be a hit before we even see pictures.

One thing's for certain: This year's holiday season will be a live one, with several big-name competitors vying for a place at the top of the charts. Unlike last year, EA will face a challenge from long-awaited sure things -- a list that includes Sony's (NYSE:SNE) Gran Turismo 4 and Take-Two Interactive Software's (NASDAQ:TTWO) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on PlayStation 2, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Halo 2 on the Xbox, and possibly (hopefully) Konami's (NYSE:KNM) third installation of Metal Gear Solid.

It's solid franchises like Need for Speed and Madden that give EA the automatic Coca-Cola-like (NYSE:KO) repeat-purchases characteristic of an industry rule maker. With Need for Speed Underground 2, Electronic Arts just upped the ante on what was already looking to be an exciting holiday season.

Give us your take on the Electronic Arts and Video & PC Games discussion boards -- only at Fool.com.

Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns shares of Electronic Arts.