Tuesday, March 15, 2011


John Marine | 3/15/2011 04:29:00 AM | |
Excitebike for the NES made dirt bike racing cool and fun. It remains one of the most fun racing games ever made. It was released in 1984 in Japan and 1985 in the United States. There was a special edition of Excitebike for the Japan-only Satellaview system called "BS Exciteike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium," featuring classic Excitebike action but with Mario characters and actual racing for position. In 2007, the classic Excitebike has been released for the Nintendo Wii for the Virtual Console. A special two-player version of Excitebike was released only in Japan for the Famicom Disk System (FDS) called "Vs. Excitebike." No matter what you think of this game or of any memories you may have, Excitebike is a game that withstands the test of time even in a postmodern gaming society.

This blog post involves my own thoughts about one of the most fun racing games of all-time: Excitebike. Note that I'll be discussing the NES classic; not any of the other Excitebike titles (like Excitebike 64, for example).

--- Excitebike at a Glance ---
Back when racing games didn't have to have super-violent crashes, have ultra-realistic physics, or be absolutely flashy to be fun; Excitebike was all about high-flying two-wheeled fun. You have five tracks to choose from. Each of the five tracks consist of two races. What you want to do is complete the race within the par time (noted by the 3rd Place time). You may also try to break the record time (noted in the background where the "Best:" is on the wall). Races are either done in time trials or with other bikes on the track. Your dirt bike has turbo, which can come in handy when trying to get to speed quickly trying to clear certain obstacles. Access the turbo when you need it. Just remember- DON'T OVERHEAT! Just get out there and have fun!

A Basic Overview.

Excitebike is all about the fun provided in motocross/supercross racing. A variety of obstacles are thrown at you as you struggle to complete two laps around a course without going over the 3rd Place time. There are two modes of play:

* Selection A: time trial racing.
* Selection B: race against rival riders share the race track with you. There is no racing for position in this game- just clear the course within the 3rd Place time. Try to clear the course even with other rivals on the track at once.
* Design: design your own courses.

The goal in Excitebike is to finish a two-lap race while making sure to finish the race within the 3rd Place time. Use your bike's turbo to gain a little extra speed in clearing obstacles. Be careful not to overheat. If you overheat your bike, you will lose valuable time trying to clear the stage. Even worse than overheating is getting knocked off of your bike. You have to hurry to your bike to avoid losing more time than you've already lost after a crash. If you're creative enough, you can knock some leading riders off of their bikes while you get off easy. :)

Handling Obstacles.

How you handle the various obstacles determines whether you finish with a fast race time... or a slow one. You can shift your weight forward (pressing Right) to go faster while in the air, or you can lean back (pressing Left) to pop a wheelie or control your weight in the air. Here are a few obstacles I will attempt to describe:
* If you see ramps, it's best to use your turbo to get as big of a jump as possible. Shift your weight back or forward while in mid-air to either fly fast or set yourself up for any upcoming obstacles.

* Don't run over the hedges. They'll just slow you down as you run them over. Try to ride around them by switching lanes.

* If you see grass patches, running them over just slows you down. Try to stay on the dirt as much as possible.

* Give the right amount of throttle and adjust your weight when encountering hills. Low hills don't require you to use your turbo. Higher hills may require you to use a little turbo if you're slow.

* There are some mounds that act more like speedbumps. If you take them too fast, you'll fly off your bike guaranteed. You can just simply pull back on the bike to take these mounds safely without risking being thrown off of your bike.

* There are two high hills to negotiate in certain tracks. One large hill requires a turbo to get up cleanly, and the top two lanes of the hill while the bottom two lanes are level with the ground. Another large hill has two little ramps to it followed by before going all the way down. The most important thing to remember when taking on this hill is to either get up the second ramp cleanly or try to reach the very top of the hill upon entry. This way, you won't pay the price for not taking this specific hill cleanly.

That's all you mostly need to know on obstacles.

--- Why Care About This Game NOW? ---
Excitebike is really a racing game that has long set the standard for dirt bike racing. That is, unless you're a big fan of Sega arcade hit, "Enduro Racer."

When I first played MotorStorm (as in the launch title MotorStorm) as a kiosk demo, using the turbo boost reminded me of Excitebike. That is especially true considering you could race motorcycles in MotorStorm. The only difference (besides their nearly 20-something year age difference) is that MotorStorm features a violent explosion when you overuse your turbo.

Another series of games that have defined this style of motocross racing have been those motocross/supercross games by THQ (like "MX vs. ATV Reflex"). These games surely infuse style while flying into the air. I have honestly never played all of these titles from THQ. Therefore, I can't speak with too much experience on these titles.

So back to the original question- why should you care about playing Excitebike NOW in this day and age? Excitebike is one of the best racing games ever. Even its music is still good to listen to despite its quirkiness! It is just old school cool. This just represents a time when racing games were simple and devoid of being super-realistic or with anything seriously unforgiving. Also, the fact you could create your own Excitebike tracks meant this was a racing game ahead of its time. I honestly don't care if this game is more than 20 years old- I'd rather race a dirt bike in the Excitebike universe rather than crash a motorcycle in Burnout Paradise or try to stay on my motorcycle while the world comes to an end in a MotorStorm game. And just because Excitebike isn't intensely violent in crashes or nature doesn't mean it still can't be fun even today. It is a racing game you must absolutely play if you call yourself and kind of racing game fan.

If you have a Nintendo Wii, you can download Excitebike to your Wii Virtual Console. It's the same classic game for your 21st century gaming device. If you prefer a modern throwback to Excitebike, you can get "Excitebike: World Rally" on WiiWare. It is a modern take on the classic Excitebike and not a completely different experience like with Excitebike 64.

--- Video Preview ---
It's a new experience for some of you; memories for many others. Here is your video preview of Excitebike:

Gameplay Sample.

NEVER gets old!

Bonus Video! - BS Excitebike Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium.

Here is a look at the Satellaview Excitebike game I mentioned earlier featuring Mario characters:

Bonus Video! - Excitebike: World Rally.

This is the WiiWare remake and rebirth of Excitebike, "Excitebike: World Rally" below:

These videos should fulfill your Excitebike cravings. If not, I'll add more videos until you get your fill of classic Excitebike goodness! :P

That concludes this blog post! You can get this game on Amazon if you're bestowed with an NES and don't have this game:

^ Excitebike for the NES.

If you don't have an NES to play this game (you likely don't), you can visit my blog post called "Old School Gaming Consoles" on John's Shop Space to shop for NES stuff on Amazon. Thank you for reading!

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