Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Excitebike

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chris-littlechild - March 23, 2012

Excitebike was a launch release for the NES in 1985. It's a racing game, casting you as Tiny Pixelly Motorbike Rider Number 1. Tiny Pixelly Motorbike Riders 2 through 4 are your mortal enemies, and the game chronicles your dramatic clashes with them.

Or, as I say, it's a racing game. Quite an appalling one at that. As is the case with my elderly aunt Erika, the years have not been kind. More than unkind, as it turns out. The years have been utter bastards.

The game offers you a choice of Selection A or Selection B. In the first, you and your pathetic lawnmower-engined vehicle ride alone in a time trial. A quick time qualifies you for races in Selection B (alas, both modes are about as rivetting as their name suggests). This is where your opposition enters the fray, seemingly your three twin midget brothers. You'll switch lanes furiously. You'll try to make each other crash, just for the delicious schadenfreude of seeing this stumpy-legged fool land on his face and run comically back to his bike. You'll think this is crap, and stop playing. You'll be right.

It's not that the concept is a bad one. The tracks are littered with obstacles, from a large brown puddle in the road (which I'm choosing to believe, and dearly hoping, is oil) to huge triangular... growths, frankly more tumour than hill (It's difficult to tell what the deal really is, 80s graphics and all). The latter form jumps, which threaten to add some slight interest to the game. This is due to the need for adjusting your landing. Pressing back or forward in the air will orient you upwards or downwards. Successful positioning will grant you a time-saving perfect landing, and make you look like a stylish if distinctly blocky Evel Knievel. On the flipside, you could end up botching the jump and rolling on the floor in an embarrassing-yet-spectacular wipeout.

Again, like Evel Knievel.

Huge retro fan that I am, I was quite looking forward to playing this. The tactical element of the course obstacles and the need to fill a meter to prevent your engine from overheating sounded promising. I just didn't click with it, and came away hugely disappointed. On paper, it's a bold early attempt at innovation in the racing genre. On your TV, sadly, it's an ass-fest. I'd also have to question the title of the game, as there's certainly nothing exciting about this crock of crap.

May I suggest the far more apt Exshitebike?

I wouldn't advise, by any stretch of the imagination, taking a look at this laughable footage of the game:

Article by Chris Littlechild

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