Monday, November 9, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Excitebike

Retro Game of the Day! Excitebike

Excitebike for the NES, original release in Japan in 1984 (and launching over here in the States with the system, I do believe). That's right... before ExciteTruck, ExciteBots, and ExciteSandwich, there was ExciteBike. A very cool little game with a naked orange guy on the box - still, it looked interesting, so I picked it up with not much to go on other than the screenshots on the side of my NES Deluxe box-

What we have here is your basic "beat the clock" racer. Make it through an obstacle course in the best time possible. Succeed and continue, fail and do-over. You have a bike which you can speed up if you so desire, however that will cause your engine to overheat (and sideline you, effectively) if you push it past the limit. Tricky driving is the best way to better lap times, then.

And tricky driving is in abundance in this game! You will constantly take air and bounce off subsequent jumps - "aim" your bike appropriately or you'll wipe out and be thrown from your ride. The rider will run back (press A+B to make him run faster!) but you'll lose valuable time in the process-

That's the main thrust of Excitebike - ride, jump, don't mess up. It starts easy but gets difficult quickly! Fortunately the designers nailed the control in this title, so it's easy to feel quite connected to your little onscreen rider. Back in the day, this game was quite a treat - and still fun to pickup now! The graphics were antiquated upon release, but that's never hurt Excitebike.

Interestingly, the game had a custom track-editor built-in, you had all the obstacles at your disposal to make lots of cool layouts. The game was billed as part of a "programmable series," and the NES version had save/load functions partially implemented - but no battery was put in (nor external NES drive ever released) so as soon as you powered off, your track was lost!

Excitebike is a wonderful game which has stood the test of time - I hear a retro-styled WiiWare update is due for release, any day now! I discovered a neat easter egg, a long time ago = at the title screen, keep tapping the reset button and the title music will sound different each time (about 4 or 5 versions).

1 comment:

  1. As a kid, my father younger brother and I would go to Sears every weekend to pick up new NES games. My father would pick one every week, while my younger brother and I would alternate every other week(2 games a week). Exitebike was the first game I picked. I still play it to this day, and the track editor is still just as nice as it was back then.

    I have been reading your blog, and have wanted to comment on so many games, but this one called to me. I'll keep reading until I am up to date. Keep up the good work!!