Sunday, December 21, 2008


for the NES

For its time, Excitebike was a substantially entertaining game that was incredibly simple yet highly addictive. Excitebike had a certain arcade-brought-home formula that added a brand new feel to gaming.

Excitebike seems to be one of the many attempts at Nintendo to have a complete collection of sports games on their console. When you buy an NES, you can do all kinds of things! You can golf, play baseball, play football, ice hockey, tennis, and now even ride dirtbikes! Wow!

The general idea of this game is just the classic beat the high score and challenge your friends type of thing. You play as a little pixelized man on a motorcycle. There's different tracks and obstacles with 2 modes of play. All you have to do is just get to the finish line as fast as you possibly can. The trick to doing so is knowing how to control the bike so you have no falls, tumbles, or bad landings. There's all sorts of ramps, ditches, and dirt that can throw you off at any moment. There's only 5 tracks though, so if you play them over and over, you start to memorize what comes up next. The more you practice, the better your time will be.

Game Mode A is playing solo. Like Time Trial on Mario Kart. You pick which track you want and go at it. Once you get bored with that, you enter the big leauges of Game Mode B. In this mode, there's other bikers racing on the track with you. You aren't really racing the bikes to the finsh line, but they add a slight bit of challenge because they can trip you up if you run into them. Game Mode B is for those who get lonely racing by themselves.

The only thing missing here is a 2-player mode. There could have been some really fun multiplayer variants here, but sadly, Nintendo didn't feel up to it apparently. I've never played Excitebike with anyone else, but I guess if you had a couple buddies you could take turns and try to beat eachother's time. I suppose that would be just as much fun.

The final mode is Design Mode; the favorite of a lot of people. You have complete freedom to build your own original tracks and race them in Game Mode A or B. There's options for all the ramps and obstacles you've seen in the built-in tracks and all sorts of fun possibilities. Of course, there is an ENORMOUS dissapointment. Once you build your dream track, you can't save your masterpiece. That's right. Turn off your NES, and your creation is gone forever. So enjoy it while it lasts! This game was released very early on in the NES's life so I guess they simply hadn't developed the technology and programming techniques for saving something like this yet. Supposedly, there was a peripheral released at some point, which I don't know much about, which allowed you to save your tracks to tapes. VHS tapes I believe. It probably wasn't worth it.

If you were, like me, one of the lucky ones to own this game on NES back in the day, you can really appreciate this game for what it is despite its simplicity. Playing this game on an emulator in this day in age doesn't do it justice. The way video games are made and the way we play them has changed drastically since 1983. Most people simply can't appreciate the classics like they could when they were kids. Excitebike really played a part in defining the genre of racing games. I've played PS2 games where you ride a four-wheeler and the angle that you tilt the analog stick will affect the way the vehicle lands after jumping a ramp. Just like Excitebike. People often forget that modern games get a lot of their concepts from the simpler days and just throw 3D graphics on top.

Thanks for reading guys. More sweet classic goodness to come!

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