Release date: 1984
Genre(s): Racing Game
Excitebike is an often overlooked original Nintendo game from the 80's. The truth is, this is an easily forgettable game in the original Nintendo library. I remember playing this game both on the Play Choice 10 arcade cabinet, as well as playing it on my Friend Ryan's NES.
The game itself is simple. Racing a motorcycle in a series of side-scrolling tracks, trying to beat the best time, so as to advance to the next race. Each track consists of jumps of various sizes, shapes, and placements. It also has mud pits, and other obstacles used to try and slow you down. There is also a feature that allows you to design and race on your own track. Sadly enough, the design your own was the funnest part of this game for me.
With a game as simple as Excitebike, there is not a lot of things to draw from when compiling a list of good and bad features. The music is catchy, and in today's modern age, makes a great ringtone. The funnest part of this game, as mentioned before, is the ability to design and race on your own tracks. The controls are simple, and responsive, and it's easy to maneuver your way through the tracks.
The graphics are 8-bit, and are therefore very simple. The crowd animation for the background grandstands are simple, and rather boring, and mundane. The only differences between each track are the combination of jumps/obstacles, and the color. It is really easy to get bored of this game, and it usually happens rather quickly.
As far as game play is concerned, there is not a whole lot to nit pick about, but the biggest complaint I have is with the overheating feature. The temperature gauge rises quickly when you are running through the course like a maniac using the Turbo acceleration, but they can be reduced by hitting the turbo strips located randomly throughout the course. The turbo strips are common enough to find, but sometimes can be placed in areas where you can miss them. With some practice though, you can learn to use the turbo acceleration sparingly, and place at least 2nd in each race. When you do overheat though, you are forced to the side of the track to cool down. This of course takes up precious time. And with a time limit needed to advance, it makes it difficult to beat the lowest track time and advance further. They could have shortened the cool down time a little bit, or at least added a 2-3 second time penalty to the timer. It only takes about 6 seconds to return to normal operating temperatures, but those 6 seconds can sometimes be the difference between 1st and 4th place.
Excitebike is a classic Nintendo game, and is one that still holds a place in people's hearts. There has been re-releases and sequels to Excitebike (including Excitebike64), plus remakes that have been developed for the Wii, and virtual consoles. Maybe I will eventually get around to playing the N64 version again, and post a review, but that will be determined at a later date.
Overall the NES version of Excitebike will probably remain somewhere between a classic, and a forgotten gem. Due to the game's ability to get old quickly, and it's low replay value, it will probably only be removed from the shelf, and dusted off on occasion. But on those occasions where it is selected, the player will be treated to about 15 minutes of primitive 8-bit fun before the game is once again returned to the shelf and left to continue it's dust collecting.
...up next, Kung Fu