Game Review

Excitebike: World Rally Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Spencer McIlvaine

Will this remake kick the tires out from under the competition?

Nintendo’s often-overlooked Excite racing series kicks in the turbo and has released not one but two new games this year. This time, the series returns to its roots with a remake of the original NES classic. But with so many other “excite”-ing options to choose from on the Wii, is there room for one more? Or has this series overheated?

The original Excitebike for the NES holds a lot of nostalgia for gamers of that era (read our review for a good example). But in truth, the game was incredibly short. With just five tracks included and no multiplayer, the game could literally be completed in a matter of minutes. But it was the quality of its core gameplay that kept people coming back for more.

That basic formula remains here in World Rally mostly intact. Players drive a motorbike through an obstacle course and attempt to reach the finish line in the shortest amount of time. In the original, setting a low time was its own reward. In this installment, repeat play is additionally rewarded. Each track has a finish time goal set that you must beat in order to unlock some additional feature of the game. At first you must meet these goals simply to unlock the next set of tracks, of which there are a total of 16. But later the game tasks you with setting even lower finish times to unlock additional benefits, which are usually customized bike designs and colors.

In addition to obstacles, the track is populated with mysteriously respawning computer opponents who you must dodge as well, similar to the original. However, unlike the NES release, World Rally allows for up to four-player simultaneous play online with friends (using friend codes) or random matching. The online matching works the same as in Mario Kart Wii and is just as smooth and painless. The manual says that if the connection lags for a second or two then each player will continue to play and the game will correct their respective locations once able to do so. We only observed this phenomenon once, so it does not appear to be a problem and for the most part online play, like Mario Kart, is as smooth as if you were playing in the same room.

Ironically, if you actually want to play in the same room, that will not be possible offline. Although no local multiplayer existed in the original game, which was doubly bizarre at the time, Nintendo has increasingly emphasized local multiplayer as of late. It is a curious decision considering the game’s obvious value as a social activity. However, the online component is exciting enough to forgive this one oversight.

It wouldn’t be a Wii game if some sort of motion controls weren’t implemented. Mercifully, with one exception, it is entirely optional. When your bike is knocked over, in the original game you had to repeatedly tap a button to get back on, which has now turned into shaking the controller. Additionally, the game features two control options. One is a classic control scheme that uses the Wii Remote like an NES controller. This control set is so familiar and so perfectly suited to the game’s demands that anyone familiar with the original will instantly gravitate to this choice. Those new to the series or feeling adventurous may instead elect to use the second control scheme, or the “normal” controls. This set up is essentially the same as the “classic” but with one key difference: when doing a wheelie or pitching back or forward while in mid-air, in classic controls you press left or right on the d-pad, but the motion control option replaces this with tilting the remote left or right. It’s simple to do, but not quite as precise as the classic option. If you were hoping for full motion controls, such as the ability to change lanes with a tilt of the remote, you're not out of luck. There is one additional control option that makes more extensive use of motion controls to steer, but it must be unlocked by getting S-rankings on each course.

Also new to World Rally is the choice of camera angles. In the NES original, the only view was the traditional side scrolling 2D viewpoint. In an effort to show off, the game now features two additional angled viewpoints, one slightly angled and one more sharply angled. Essentially an isometric viewpoint, these new camera angles greatly enhance the illusion of 3D gaming and can be switched back and forth at any time. However, in addition to looking better, they also make the controls more confusing. Switching lanes from left to right is controlled by pressing Up and Down. This comes naturally when playing in the 2D perspective. Upon switching to a different “over the shoulder” viewpoint, these button selections feel less natural and require more thought. As a result, although fun for solo play and showing off to your friends, in competitive play these seem undesirable compared to the simplicity of the side scrolling viewpoint that most classic gamers are already hardwired to understand.

Perhaps some of the biggest changes are in how the game play has been tuned to be more exciting. For instance, the terrain altering effects introduced in ExciteTrucks makes an appearance here. Triggering an effect can cause a ramp to appear giving you a shortcut over an obstacle, or a hill to appear that may cause confusion for the drivers around you. Another update relates to the turbo feature. In the original game this feature merely made your bike accelerate faster. But here, your bike gains a noticeable top speed advantage when using turbo, although you still overheat when using it. So seeking out speed arrows, which cool off your bike, is a more important strategy than ever.

Lastly, Excitebike’s most endearing quality, the ability to wipe out an opposing driver by sideswiping his front tire, has been given a boost as well. Now when you complete this stunt your engine will cool off the same as if you ran over the speed arrows. It may not make much sense, but it encourages aggressive driving and rewards the daring with a cool engine and increased time using the turbo. Which in turn will decrease your finishing time. This is not merely a strategy, as later in the game it is absolutely essential. There are four cups and the first two are easy enough that they can be won through simple good driving. But by the time you reach the third and fourth cups you’ll need more than just the ability to avoid getting run off the road. The game gets much harder at these levels and will require all of your skill (and perhaps more) just to qualify. And qualifying just means you unlock the next level. Since the game additionally challenges you to finish with an even better time in order to unlock everything, it can become crazy difficult to meet these target times. Unlike the original, World Rally truly earns a place in the pantheon of classic “Nintendo-hard” games.

Finally, the venerable track editor makes a return. Most of the same features are included, as well as two terrain altering effects. You can save your tracks and even share them with your friends. Although they cannot be used in random online matches, the ability to use them in friend matches, or even just in solo play, considerably extends the lifetime of the game.


With more tracks, more bonus features and more strategic racing challenges, Excitebike: World Rally is a racing game that will keep you challenged with its ever-increasing difficulty and entertained with its track editor and online play. Not only does this remake vastly improve on its original formula, but also it provides a more polished and enjoyable racing experience than any other game currently available on the Wiiware service. Graphical enhancements aside, this is the full game that Excitebike always should have been. It not only leaves other Wiiware racers in the dust, but also wiped out on the side of the road.

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User Comments (75)



Gabbo said:

Sorry for the lateness, folks. I was too busy playing to write a review.



Starkiller said:

There's so much on my to get list I'll probably end up never getting this, cause I don't have other Excitebike games to push me off the edge. Looks good though.



JayArr said:

It looks like I better go download this one. It's puzzling that I don't have it already.



Stevie said:

I was just about to start asking where this review was. Please release this in Europe in 3 hours Nintendo.



DaVeMaN99 said:

Great game, but I would have gave it around a 8. So addicting, getting S's and online.
But lack of local is



Philip_J_Reed said:

Sounds great, and it scored a bit better than I would have expected. A very pleasant surprise.



Zammy said:

Download time, much better rated than I expected.

... I love Excitebike.



ReZon said:

@Gabbo - an excellent excuse. A 9/10 sounds about right to me. I could care less about local multiplay. This is the best WiiWare game out there right now in my opinion.



moomoo said:

I expected a 7. I'll be getting this, since I loved the original Excitebike.



Kid_A said:

Didn't expect it to get a 9. I really need to get a points card...I've been saying "I'll get a points card when Cave Story comes out" for over a year now".



mrchillz said:

This is a VERY good game. Not many downloads would I consider spending $50 for at the mall, this is definitley one. And a pretty nice review I might add. Keep on truckin'.



StarDust4Ever said:

I will definitely be getting this, although it's kind of a bummer that my buddy and I won't be able to duke it out in two player mode. I can understand though as it would have been rather difficult to use split screen for the side view option. I imagine that the back tire wipeout move will make online play simply that much more aggressive, hahaha!!!



Yosher said:

Hrmm.. didn't think this game would score this high. Might get this after all once it comes out in Europe, but it's too bad about the local multiplayer thing...



buttle said:

i really wanted offline multiplayer. i'll probably get it anyway. but i'm not near as excited.



Porky said:

Offline multiplayer may have been hard to play with on the same Tv you know. Ima getting this after..... POKEMON RUMBLE next week; which i need to save up enough allowance for another 2000pts to get Excitebike World Rally unfortunately.



the_shpydar said:

Loving this game as much as the original. Good week for retro franchise revivals on WiiWare; the Frogger game is also quite good.



Stargazer said:

If you need a local multiplayer fix, try Driift Mania. It's main problem was that it was ONLY offline....



cheetahman91 said:

Meh, I never use local multiplayer so just online is fine by me. I'm definitely getting this one now. I just might get this before youknowwhat if youknowwhat doesn't come out in December.



WolfRamHeart said:

Wow, it got a 9!? I thought that exclusion of local multiplayer would have definitely knocked down the score a bit. It still sounds like a really awesome game and I was eagerly awaiting this review to find out if it is worth the download. I'm glad that it turned out to be a winner so I guess now is a good time to give it a try for myself.



Jazzem said:

The lack of offline multiplayer sure is puzzling...especially since a Japan only version of NES Excite Bike with such a feature exists.

Still, can't wait for this to hit EU I even grabbed a cheap GBA cart of the NES Classics version in anticipation. Hopefully tonight!



worrybomb said:

While I would've loved local multiplayer to be included, I just don't see it working out. Split screen would have restricted some of the field of vision of tracks and jumps whether it's horizontal or vertical borders.

It's a great update to the Excitebike franchise and online play is virtually lagless (in my end, at least). Monster Games did a great job with this game.



LinktotheFuture said:

It doesn't bother me that there isn't offline multiplayer. Offline multiplayer in ExciteTruck and ExciteBots isn't that great.



bboy2970 said:

Has this even been confirmed for Europe? I hope you guys get this great game but after being screwed on ExciteBots, I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't.



SMW said:

I hate the lack of local multiplayer, but with a game this good, I guess I can just stick with taking turns. After all, that was how I enjoyed the original Excitebike, taking turns going for the best times.



Stevie said:

@bboy2970 - This is Wiiware though not a retail release so there is a lot less risk and monetary outlay to worry about, it will be released, when is the question.

The optimist in me is saying that if this sells well in the EU we may see Excitebots.



pixelman said:

I was expecting a 6-7, or perhaps an 8 to be honest. This is a nice surprise - downloading ASAP!



bboy2970 said:

@Stevie: That's a good point. Well I hope for everyone in Europe that World Rally's sales sway Nintendo on releasing EB in your territory. It really is a pitty to miss that one.



CanisWolfred said:

I just don't see how this game could be fun. I mean, I love racing game and all but...I wouldn't even consider this a racing game. It's just too basic. I never really liked the original game at all, and I was hoping this game would overhaul it, but I guess I'll have to pass.



Draygone said:

So it sounds like what would happen if they took Excitebike 64 and ExciteTruck, combined them, and put it back to the original 2D. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

@39. Mickeymac
True, the offline gameplay, you're really only racing against the time. But it's more about managing through all the obstacles (including the jumps and drone racers) than trying to beat a bunch of people to the finish line. Though if you want the actual race, online seems to work well. If you don't like the game because it doesn't have Mario Kart items, well, you probably wouldn't like any racing game that isn't Mario Kart. Still, have you tried watching the videos of the game online? This one's pretty good:



MrDanger88 said:

I thought about getting this, but then I remembered I had Trails HD and shouldn't spend $10 on something inferior.



Adam said:

I agree with Mickeymac. Looks as boring as the original, and equally as pointless without multiplayer. It's really not the kind of game that screams "online multiplayer" to begin with.



iphys said:

I fully agree on the 9 for this game. There could have been a few extra features, but sometimes things are best if you keep them simple, and this game is simply fun. I've probably already spent 20 hours on it since Monday.



Kevin said:

Wasn't expecting an excitebike game to recieve a 9 rating. Sounds like I need download this one soon.



Ren said:

sweet! I'm sold. I honestly never totally understood the original, maybe just because I sucked at it and only played someone elses copy. I've loved every other excite game, though, I can't wait to do this one and get into one of the only NES games I ever really missed out on exploring fully.



Twilight_Crow said:

Uh! O.O, amazing score! Didn't expect it. Nice Review Gabbo .
Well, I made up my mind, not getting this, I'm with Mickeymac and Adam. If it's online play is the replay feature, it has nothing for me, and is too similar to the original, which I never liked.



JimLad said:

Up the WiiWare! More points for christmas it looks like, need this and Lost Winds 2.



DarkEdi said:

I DL this and really like it. It´s THE remake of nes version. It´s pretty hard too and it has very good levels.

About the save slots for created tracks i counted 8. I don´t know if it saves more when full (like a scroll or something like that).



Rensch said:

This game seems a lot of fun. Too bad about the lack of local multiplayer.



OldBoy said:

Hopefully I'll get to try this out eventually.Far too many games right now but this looks great



CanisWolfred said:


Bah, the lack of power-ups is a plus in my book.

And thanks for the video, at least now I know for sure I won't by it. It seems just as dull as the original was. Oh well, I got enough racing games for right now, and if I ever feel the need to get a new one, better ones won't be hard to come by.



bestbuck said:

Tell ya I'm getting the feeling we'll be lucky if we see this in December in Europe. Why can't Nintendo give a release date? I really want this game.
"as dull as the original" What? The original has classic Nintendo Gameplay.
Did you ever hear the phrase "less is more"?



Percentful said:

Suprised it got a 9! I would get this, but I'm spending my points on DSiware. I will be spending about 4-6 hours away from home for a few more months, so It's not worth it to get wii games right now.



CanisWolfred said:

Classic Nintendo gameplay? The NES alone had way better games that this! Mach Rider, Pole Position, Micro Machines - now those are racing games. This? I don't even know what to call this. But it sure as hell ain't a racing game, and it sure as hell fun. I'll never understand how this got to become a classic!

...eh, okay, it's not that bad, but seriously, IMO, it's not that fun, no matter how "classic" it is. Since this game doesn't really do anything to the gameplay to make it any better, I'm gonna have to skip it. I was hoping there might be a chance that I'd see what all the fuss was about, but I guess that just didn't happen. If you like it, and you liked the original, then good for you. For me, I just don't see the appeal.



WiiCool said:

Will be downloading this one for sure. Thanks for the review, not sure it's going to be a "9" quality game, but for the price I will not be complaining.



bboy1 said:

At first it seemed boring but once I got the hang of jumping and boosting it's so fun. Once you master it it's even better, especially online.



Hokori said:

Great Game but im not as good at this as Truck and Bots I dont think ill ever unlock all of the paint jobs online

my FC is 4555-0946-5284 if anyone wants to add me



Rarewarefan7495 said:

It's the remake that Excitebike fans have been waiting for. Excitetruck and Excitebots may have more modes and depth, but the simplicity of this wii-make wins me over those titles.



BrickRockwell said:

Y E S. I was a huge fan of the original Excitebike, so much so (and such an obsessive completist) that I thought about downloading it until I heard about this update/remake. And boy, am I glad I laid it down on this. The minute the title screen popped up, that same awesome music kicked on, and I was elated. This game IS the original, with so much more added that it truly makes the original obsolete. I couldn't say that about the New Super Mario Bros. game, or Gradius/Castlevania Rebirth, but this game IS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW about the Nintendo Excitebike series.



SethNintendo said:

Same here.. I'm going to drop 200 coins on this at Club Nintendo. Thanks for the "free" game Nintendo!

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