Posted on September 26, 2012
My Top 100: #80 – Excitebike 64
The original Excitebike will always hold a dear place in my heart, if only because it was the second NES game I ever played. We had family friends in Shediac (New Brunswick), and their much-older-than-me son introduced me to the Nintendo system with Super Mario Bros.\Duck Hunt, Excitebike, and a beat ’em up he didn’t really want me playing called Renegade.
Looking back, Renegade was somewhat awful, so it’s all good.
In any case, I always loved the whacky colours on display in Excitebike. How can a track be lime green? What on Earth makes dirt show up that colour?? It still doesn’t make sense, but I still play it from time to time. It’s not exactly an in-depth experience, but it’s fun for a few minutes, anyway.
There were a few motorcross games out during the late 90’s, most of them with a Jeremy McGrath or Ricky Carmichael-caliber name attached to them. The X-Games were starting to soar in popularity, so it was up to Nintendo to revive a long-dormant franchise, and do it properly.
What I loved about Excitebike 64 was that it didn’t rely on widely-known tracks or names to be awesome. There were your typical stadium dirt tracks with varying degrees of difficulty, the “out in nature” tracks in the desert and snowy areas, and then there were the just plain weird and unrealistic ones. Every track was challenging, and though they weren’t really re-inventing the wheel, the tight controls made it a blast to navigate.
The classic game was included as an unlockable bonus, as were a few other modes, such as Soccer, Excite 3D (a 3D version of the original), a Track Editor and a free-for-all through randomly generated checkpoints on a Desert course. Taking out opponents was as simple as it was before – clip the front tire of the guy behind you, and down they go! You could do stunts going over ramps and stuff, too. I didn’t much care for that part of it, though.
I loved the heck out of Wave Race 64 when it came out, and this just felt like a much more complete version of that game… except on land, this time.