So the NES launch titles have games that are considered simple classics. I’ve reviewed 7 out of the 17 games of the US launch titles, so here’s the eighth title, Excitebike (エキサイトバイク Ekisaitobaiku), developed and published by Nintendo and was released in 1984 in Japan, 1985 in the US and 1986 in Europe. The game is a motocross game and a very well known one in the world of gaming.
In Mode A, it’s pretty much a solo time trial, you must finish the race with a specific time slot to get to the next round, finishing after the qualifing time is a loss and it’s game over. Mode B is a proper race where you race against other CPU players, they can be hard but you can trip them up by knocking their front wheel with your back wheel and you can go in front. But even then you still need to get around the hill-filled tracks as you try to control the bike, angle it right depening on how you go up a hill or down it. You can also press B to turbo but be careful because it could affect your temperature. There’s a lot of strategy to the game which gives Excitebike a great longevity to it.
You can also design tracks too, but like Wrecking Crew, you can save your designs…if you live in Japan because you can’t do this for other regioned versions; because Japan used the Famicom Data Recorder, similar to the Commodore 64’s Datassette, where you can save and load things for other games too like Castle Excellent, Mach Rider and Wrecking Crew, but because the west didn’t get that luxury, we could only use our design once before you could turn it off, though using the Virtual Console port lets you save it to the console’s internal memory. The game is really fun, but very challenging in later levels like trying to control the bike to get it to top speed and trying very hard not to fall off your bike.
Overall, the game is another classic title for the NES. There’s not much to it, just a simple motorcycle game that you can easily pick up and play.
Though it’s not over yet as I got to talk about the other iterations. There were two versions of Vs. Excitebike; the arcade version, it’s like the NES version except that there are three difficulties, there are now seven tracks instead of five, the selections of A and B has been omitted and you now play each track twice, one as a challenge race and one as an Excitebike race and only the Excitebike race has CPUs. Finally, you must qualify at 5th place or above in every race. A second version was released for the Famicom Disk System, again similar to the original cartridge release, except it now has a versus mode called ‘Vs. Excite’, you now have the option to change the settings like number of tracks, laps and rounds, music has changed, there is an ‘Original Excite’ mode where it’s pretty much the arcade version but color palette has changed and you can save your created tracks into the disk.
One known remake Nintendo made was Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium (エキサイトバイク ぶんぶんマリオバトルスタジアム, also known as Mario Excite Bike and BS Excitebike), where the racers have been replaced with Mario characters such as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Wario, Toad, and Bowser’s Koopa Troopas. The game is once again is the same except for a brand new SUPER mode where you have unlimited boosts and there are coins for you to collect and it can increase your top speed. Like Vs. Excitebike for the Famicom Disk System, the game was only released in Japan, which is a shame since it could have been a decent next gen Excitebike for the Super Nintendo.
So that’s the end of the tale of a memorable motorsports series, but the story doesn’t end as we have Excitebike 64 to look at, though I don’t have the game yet so a review will be a while.
You can get it on the Nintendo Entertainment System / Family Computer, NEC PC-8801, Sharp X1, Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube (Animal Crossing), Virtual Console (Wii, Wii U) and the Nintendo 3DS.