Excitebike will no doubt be remembered fondly by older gamers. After all, it was one of the original launch titles for the NES way back in 1985. Some might be dubious and question if a game this old is worth purchasing for the Virtual Console, but worry not — this classic game has somehow managed to retain its appeal. Understandably it doesn't hold up quite so well on the presentation side, but we can forgive that given how fun it still is.
It's a side-scrolling racer, and you must move between four lanes to avoid other bikes and obstacles. There are ramps to zoom up and off, and tilting forwards or backwards while in mid-air allows you to position yourself for a decent landing so that you can keep up your momentum. You can pop wheelies too. The controls are simple: one button accelerates as you would expect, while the other acts as a turbo. Use it sparingly, though, or your engine will overheat.
There are five tracks in total. To progress from one track to the next you need to finish in the top three against your opponents. Completing the game doesn’t take much practice, but it’s so much fun to play you will probably want to come back and try and beat your best track times.
Sadly there is no two player option, but interestingly the game does include a track editor which offers a bit more long term fun. The Virtual Console release is an improvement on the original, which didn’t let you save your creations. It seems that Nintendo was planning to release a peripheral in the early days to enable this, but it never saw the light of day!
Here is a good example of a game which doesn’t need flashy graphics or sound to be fun. The controls work like a dream and popping wheelies over hills still makes us feel like Evel Knievel, even over 20 years after its original release. Excitebike is easily still worth a look today for just 500 Wii points.