i really enjoyed playing through the original excitebike earlier this year, and at that time based on my experience of the game i had said it “pretty much fixes all of the original’s minor issues and even improves upon it”. after having gotten S ranks in all 16 tracks i have to say my opinion holds true, and the game is so enjoyable that i would have to say that it actually makes my list of “greatest games of all time”.
the game is a great example of a long-awaited sequel that retains everything that made the original a classic and adds new features without destroying the source material. it helps, of course, that as in this case the motocrossin’ original was so solid and simple to begin with, but monster games, responsible for both excite truck and excitebots, deserves kudos for finding a great balance of nostalgia and novelty. the game incorporates motion controls well: the jumps and landings are controlled by the angle of the wii remote, and are also used for performing wheelies, which can help get you over hurdles, rough patches, and even other riders. the motion controls are enjoyable, but at the higher levels of difficulty the ability to revert to classic controls was much appreciated. the game also has a new feature where smooth landings give a small boost, and the feeling of sailing through a track perfectly is a distinct pleasure. there’s also a nice addition whereby your engine cools down if you trip up an opponent, which adds to the game’s strategy. the game also features dynamic parts of the track that change the terrain when you drive over an item and two optional isometric angles (and SPOILER: a behind-the-back 3rd-person view with “pro” motion controls if you S-rank every track) which give a nice new and unique feel to the game. the track editor is a fun diversion and the ability to actually save them is a definite improvement over the original. although it lacks a local two-player mode (which makes sense seeing as how squashed the playing field would have become), wi-fi is a blast and i haven’t had too much trouble finding anonymous matches to join.
it seems a bit churlish to criticize the game given the amount of enjoyment my nephew and i have both gotten out of it, but as my first wiiware title i was a bit surprised at how lo-fi the graphics and sound are. the variations in the locales are adequate but not very memorable, but given the limitations of wiiware and since monster games absolutely nailed everything else this is clearly just nitpicking. i’m not sure if the game has gotten the recognition it deserves, but if you’re a fan of the original there’s absolutely no reason not to pick this up. and while i impatiently wait for a sequel, i’ll definitely be going back and playing through the rest of the excite series.
excitebike! world! rally! links!
– good review at nintendolife.com
– 1up.com’s interview with the developers
– entry at wikipedia
– i remember when the game was first announced in a suprise exclusive reveal on wii’s nintendo week show
– typically barebones official site