(3DS eShop)

Game Review

3D Classics: Excitebike Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jacob Crites

Very Excite

Excitebike was never about throwing pies. Sometimes we forget that.

The game's first sequel, Excitebike 64, was a near-racing sim, with at-the-time cutting edge, realistic graphics, and a plethora of tricks and combos — no doubt a response to the massive popularity of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise, while the two Excite games for Wii (Truck and Bots) were wonderfully bombastic, breakneck-paced, thrill-a-minute, pie-throwing sensory overloads that are still the most bat-crap crazy racing games of this generation.

But Excitebike, the NES original, was different. It wasn't a game about speed, big jumps and sweet wheelies (even though the game does contain all of those things); like Super Mario Bros., Excitebike was a game about movement. The thrill didn't come from the big jump; it came from the joy of landing without losing momentum, weaving seamlessly between mud puddles and speed traps. It's a design philosophy that differs from the most recent games in the series — and indeed most racing games in general — but like all truly great Nintendo games, it's a philosophy that still feels fresh and exciting today.

Whether you're dodging traps and revving up steep hills in Time Trial Mode (Selection A) or taking out opponents and racing for a shiny gold trophy (Selection B), Excitebike proves to be a deceitfully strategic game. Angling your bike to be level with the ground while in midair will prevent you from losing momentum upon landing; swiping your rear tire against an opponent's front tire will cause them to spin off the track; and going for maximum air on a big jump may look cool, but you also might go too far and land on bumpy terrain that'll slow you down. When all these elements are working in tandem, the game lives up to its name, and feels pretty much unlike any racing game currently on the market.

It also looks better than any previously-released version of the game, with or without the 3D turned on. The colors are brighter, the sprites look slicker, and it looks fantastic running on the 3DS's wider top screen. Nintendo has also thankfully updated the interface as well, with a spiffy-looking bottom-screen menu that allows you to pause, quick-save and review the controls. The stereoscopic 3D effect obviously looks great, and certainly modernizes it a bit more, but other than making it slightly easier to tell which lane you're in, it doesn't really have any significant effect the gameplay. But then, how could it, really?

As a free download (which, at the time this review was published, it is), this is a no-brainer. But when you think about the fact that the game will eventually cost $5.99, things get a little iffy. Aside from the updated visuals, Nintendo hasn't taken any advantage of any of the 3DS's extra features, here; StreetPass would be a great way to share custom levels made by the game's track editor, and online leaderboards should really just be a standard at this point for high-score-centric games like this. With the other currently-free eShop launch title, Pokédex 3D, taking full advantage of the system's unique capabilities, Excitebike definitely feels a little behind.

Conclusion

But aside from the lack of 3DS-specific features, Excitebike's charming aesthetics and deceitfully strategic gameplay have only gotten better with age. With the 3DS's impressive horsepower, we're going to see more and more handheld titles trying to provide console experiences, but with Excitebike 3D, Nintendo assures us that the eShop will be a place where gamers can find the sort of fun, pick-up-and-play experiences that made handheld gaming such a success in the first place.

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User Comments (44)

NintyMan

#1

NintyMan said:

The 3D impressed me the first time I saw it, and everyone should give it a try, especially since this game is free for a limited time. It wouldn't hurt to give it a first try like I did.

PSICOffee

#2

PSICOffee said:

Too bad this won't be free by September when I can (hopefully) get a 3DS. Then again, it's one of my favorite NES games so I might just buy it anyway. Hopefully Balloon Fight is next!

Traxx

#3

Traxx said:

I'm just unable to get used to this game. I clearly prefer the WiiWare Remake, since game mechanics (like landing, whellie, turbo, etc.) are not the same at all!

Supremeist

#4

Supremeist said:

Why did this get rated a 7? I don't like the game at all, really. I got sick of it after 10 minutes of playtime. I don't like the 3D Effect on it either for some reason. Oh well, my opinion! Glad some people do enjoy the game though.

pixelman

#6

pixelman said:

lol me too for the most part. Here's the trick to playing it:

Hold right off of a ramp to jump low and far, and hold left off the ramp to go high and short. Always land with your wheels parallel to the ground, and use the boost (B button) when you need to.

y2josh

#7

y2josh said:

I suck at this game as well and I don't want to put the time in to it to get better, I don't think it's very fun.

komicturtle

#8

komicturtle said:

@tbd

Same here. But for some reason, I keep getting back into it trying to get better.

The 3D effect is mighty impressive if not simple. I just wish I could share my tracks. Hope they update the game for that feature later down the line.

nintendogamerftw

#9

nintendogamerftw said:

I'm looking forward to downloading this as soon as my 3DS has finished updating, as the excellent Excitebike: World Rally really impressed me.

Fuzzy

#10

Fuzzy said:

Wasnt very good when I played it briefly yesterday. Will give it another go tonight.

TeeJay

#11

TeeJay said:

I've really gotten the hang of this game since I've downloaded it, but I've still got a ways to go. I keep crashing into other bikers and tripping over those tiny bumps that trip you up. I would have given this at least an 8 but that's just my personal opinion.

bonesy91

#12

bonesy91 said:

this game is, well, very bland. but what can you say about an old game? it's still impressive how they worked the 3d into the game. can't wait to see what they do with Zelda, Mario etc.

Kid_A

#13

Kid_A said:

I never really "got" this game when I played it as a kid (which is to say I sucked at it) but for some reason when I downloaded it last night, it just clicked. Now I keep coming back to it because I'm having so much fun with it! If you take the time to figure out the timing of everything, it actually pays off.

argus

#14

argus said:

Does the track editor let you save your level in this version? If so, does it let you save multiple custom tracks?

Kid_A

#16

Kid_A said:

Yep there's quite a few save files for custom tracks! Unfortunately there's no way to share them :(

yoyogamer

#17

yoyogamer said:

Good game, just won't be worth the same price as Link's Awakening. I wonder what comes next in this series?

SwerdMurd

#18

SwerdMurd said:

i'd have to echo the "it's good cause it's free" comment. This game for 6 bucks is just robbery. Not that there's anything wrong with it...compared to Link's Awakening for 6 bucks though, the content comes up appallingly short.

Raptor78

#19

Raptor78 said:

Just because im bad at this game doesnt make the game bad. lol
I wouldnt give it 7 because I dont enjoy it so much because of my skill level... however its a good start and a good example of what they can do with the 3D Classics. Im looking forward to what will come out in the series... fingers crossed for "Joust" :)

RyuZebian

#21

RyuZebian said:

One of my Wii VC titles that I actually played some... The 3D version is superior, but I appreciate that the reviewer didn't give in to nostalgia and rated it a 9 or something. A 7 is very suitable!

Samholy

#23

Samholy said:

great game for nostalgia. but its overpriced. like he said in the review, it lacks a lot of features that could justify this price. streetpass track sharing ? where is it ? why didnt they even think about it when everyone did?

chiptoon

#25

chiptoon said:

@Kid A - you and me both. A friend of mine had this, and I just didn't understand it. It was unpleasant because I spent most of my time walking slowly back to the bike. Now I get it, and its great!

Warshade

#26

Warshade said:

the 3d really brings out the graphics of the game though the game feels slow and I don't find myself wanting to play it again after the one time.

SpicyDuck

#28

SpicyDuck said:

I'm glad I got it when it was free :) I wouldn't have bought it personally, but I can't talk bad about the game either since it's a classic and all.

moosa

#29

moosa said:

Nintendo has been selling all of their NES games for $5 a piece, so it makes sense that they're selling an updated version of an NES game for $6.

golephish

#30

golephish said:

Just traded my dsi Xl ( I purchased on May 28,2011). I know a little late to the DS Party. I am now the proud owner of the blue 3ds. I have yet to try excite bike.

StarDust4Ever

#31

StarDust4Ever said:

Good review. I appreciate the updated visuals. Otherwise, gameplay is identical to the NES version. One note I'd like to bring up, is if you've played the Wiiware version a lot, it kind of spoils the NES/VC/3DS versions. There are a lot of tricks in the Wiiware version that you cannnot do in the original/3DS version, such as wheelie-jumping over other riders or speed boost with B button.

I keep forgetting that those new tricks need to be unlearned, otherwise, I just trip myself up and wreck.

I'd also like to add this title will give you lots of insight into the 3D slider. Sliding it up and down during play showcases the seamless 3D vanish effect. Due to the game's orthographic perspective, there is a minute amount of aliasing caused by the scaling of the sprites. With the slider all the way down, the graphics are identical to the original NES version, but with a wider screen.

siddharthbandhu

#32

siddharthbandhu said:

Would be great if they could make an update for the game, to take full advantage of the system's unique capabilities, as said.

golephish

#33

golephish said:

Update - GREAT game! I don't remember being this bad at the game, although when I first played it I was 4 ...

Ayer99

#35

Ayer99 said:

This is why I love nintendo. They provide good entertainment, for free!

TheGreenSpiny

#36

TheGreenSpiny said:

Glad to see that the reviewer understands the game: it's really more of a platformer/challenge mode game than a racer. World Rally for Wiiware got unfairly trashed by alot of reviewers back when it released. My only complaint about the Exitbike games is that they don't feature any real racing. It's fun to try and navigate the courses and make the best times but, it would have been great to have standard racing modes as well.

rachelthehedgehog

#38

rachelthehedgehog said:

@ryanthehedgehog I don't have a 3DS yet but I have played this game before on one, and it was not very fun. I didn't really enjoy it either! I guess it's okay to be free, but now it costs money, right? The 3D does just make it look horrible, so I recommend playing it in 2D.

xj0462

#40

xj0462 said:

loved the wii version, so this is definetly on my download list
in fact im going to go play the wii version right now

Geonjaha

#41

Geonjaha said:

Everyone who got it for free cant really complain about the game they got for nothing, but I dont recommend this unless you have played and really enjoy excitebike. It has impressive 3D but I wouldnt have payed for this is if it wasnt a free download.

Simon_Deku

#42

Simon_Deku said:

I'm gonna get either this or freakyforms in a few minutes. I already have pushmo & all the other 3D Classics, except for Xevious. I'm waiting for Club Nintendo to be back up & running to get that. Let's Golf 3D & Pyramids just don't look like my thing.

atariman

#44

atariman said:

love this game! its a little bit better then the original ExciteBike. a 9/10.

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