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Packaging artwork released in North America.
Hudson Soft (PC-8801, X1)
Arika (Nintendo 3DS)
Hudson Soft (PC-8801, X1)
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Excitebike (エキサイトバイク Ekisaitobaiku) is a motocross racing video game franchise made by Nintendo. It debuted as a game for the Famicom in Japan in 1984 and as a launch title for the NES in 1985. It is the first game of the Excite series, succeeded by its direct sequel Excitebike 64, its spiritual successors Excite Truck and Excitebots: Trick Racing, and the WiiWare title Excitebike: World Rally. 3D Classics: Excitebike, a 3D remake of the original game, was free for a limited time to promote the launch of the Nintendo eShop in June 2011.
Whether the player chooses to race solo or against computer-assisted riders, they race against a certain time limit. The goal is to qualify for the Excitebike (the championship) race by coming in at third place or above in the challenge race (preliminary race). The times to beat are located on the stadium walls (for first place) and in the lower left corner (for third place). In any race, the best time is 8 seconds ahead of third place. When the player places first, then they get a message: "It's a new record!" Additional points are earned by beating the previously-set record time.
The player controls the position of the red motorcycle with the Y-axis of the directional pad, and controls acceleration with the A and B buttons. Using B causes greater acceleration, but also increases the motorcycle's temperature shown as a bar at the bottom of the screen. When the temperature exceeds safe limits the bar becomes full; the player will be immobilized for several seconds while the bike cools down. Driving over an arrow will immediately reduce the bike's temperature.
The pitch of the motorcycle can be modified with the X-axis of the directional pad: left raises the front, while right lowers the front. In the air, this rotates the bike, but can also be used to create wheelies on the ground. Pushing up or down turns the handlebars left or right, respectively, when the bike is on the ground.
If the player runs into an opponent, lands badly from a jump, or crashes into a ramp, they will be knocked off the bike and land in the grass. Pushing A repeatedly allows the player to run back to the bike and continue the race.
At the start of the game, the player can choose one of five tracks in which to race.
ExciteBike has three modes of gameplay. In Selection A, the player races solo. In Selection B, CPU players join the player. They act as another obstacle; hitting one from the back will cause the player to fall off the bike, while any CPU riders hitting the player's rear wheel will cause them to fall off.
In Design Mode, the player has the ability to build his or her own racing tracks. The player can choose hills and obstacles of various sizes and place them, represented by the letters A-S. The player can also choose where to finish the lap, and how many laps there are (up to nine). After it is finished, the player can race the track in either Selection A or Selection B.
The Japanese version of the game allowed saving the player-created tracks to cassette tape, requiring the Famicom Data Recorder peripheral (basically the Famicom equivalent of the C-64's Datassette). Since this peripheral was only available in Japan (intended for use with Nintendo's Family BASIC), track saving was effectively unavailable to American and European players even though there are "save" and "load" options present within the in-game menus of those versions (the game's English manual states that "Save and Load menu selections are not operable in this game; they have been programmed in for potential product developments"). These options were removed in the e-Reader version of the game.
Unlike Wrecking Crew, Excitebike was never re-released for the Famicom Disk System in its original form. Subsequently, courses created within the version available on the Wii Virtual Console release in all regions can actually be saved to the Wii's internal memory.
Ports and enhanced remakes
Excitebike was enhanced in two different versions, both titled Vs. Excitebike.
The first version was released for arcades in 1984, some time after the Famicom release. The game was based around the VS. UniSystem unit. It is similar to its NES counterpart, though this version has the Design option gone and in the main game there are three difficulty levels (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced), and there are seven tracks rather than five. The tracks mostly return from the original game with some rearrangement of track obstacles. In addition, there is no Selection A or B; each track is played the first time as a time trial, single-motorcycle qualifying heat, and the second time as an Excitebike race. Whereas the time trial has no CPU bikers as obstacles, they appear in the Excitebike race mode. As in real-life supercross heat races, riders must clear the track in fifth position or higher to advance.
The second was released for the Famicom Disk System peripheral in 1988. While the graphics and core gameplay are still the same, the FDS version has several distinctive features that the NES and arcade versions lack:
- The game features a versus mode known as "Vs. Excite", in which two players compete against each other. The options include the maximum number of rounds to play, the track, and the number of laps for said track.
- The music is completely different; none of the songs from the original game are present in this version, and a theme is played during gameplay.
- The "Original Excite" mode is based on the main mode of the arcade version, with minor differences such as a different color palette.
- Its rewritable disk format also allows the player to save created tracks.
Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium
Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium (エキサイトバイク ぶんぶんマリオバトルスタジアム, also known as Mario Excite Bike, BS Excitebike) is a video game for the Satellaview (available only in Japan), and a remake of this game. Unlike the original Excitebike, the human racers have been replaced by Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Wario, Toad, and some of Bowser's Koopa Troopas. The concept of the game was unchanged except for a "SUPER" mode where the player has unlimited turbo, as well as the addition of coins. The coins are spread out on the courses and increase top speed.
Other ports and remakes
The original Excitebike has appeared on a number of gaming platforms since its debut in 1984.
- A version of the game was released for the Japan-only NEC PC-8801 and Sharp X1 by Hudson Soft in 1985.
- Players can unlock the title on the Nintendo 64 sequel game Excitebike 64.
- Players can unlock the title (one of several bonus NES games included) on the GameCube game Animal Crossing.
- In 2002, it was released as a five E-card set game, entitled Excitebike-e, for the now-discontinued e-Reader, a device for the Game Boy Advance used for scanning special "e-Cards" to play games, obtain information, or unlock special content.
- In 2004, it was released as part of the Game Boy Advance Classic NES Series. This version is the first non-Japan version to allow the player to save their tracks, although this port only has one savable track.
- The game was added to the European Virtual Console on February 16, 2007, the same day its spiritual successor, Excite Truck, was released there. The game was added to the North American Virtual Console on March 19, 2007.
- The Nintendo DSi and 3DS includes an Excitebike visualizer that is used while playing music from an SD card on Nintendo DSi Sound or Nintendo 3DS Sound.
- Excitebike: World Rally, a WiiWare game, was released for download on November 9, 2009.
- 3D Classics: Excitebike was released on the Nintendo 3DS as a launch title for the Nintendo eShop in America, Japan and Europe; the game was initially offered for free for a period but is now sold at £5.40 / €6.00 for European markets and $5.99 in the US. The game features 3D support and analog support. This release was featured amongst other games from the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES to be released for the 3DS on a tech demo called Classic Games at E3 2010. The game allows the player to save up to 32 custom created tracks that can be played in either 2D or 3D.
- Excitebike was one of the video games used as a basis for the manga titled Famicom Rocky published by Coro Coro Comics from 1985 to 1987.
- Hobby was playing as the main character of Excitebike, and is one of the video game characters that were adapted for the manga titled Hobby's Famicom Seminal (われらホビーズファミコンゼミナール Ware-ra Hobīzu Famikon Zemināru) on 1988 to 1990.
- On November 11, 2016, the game (alongside 29 other games) was included in the NES Classic Edition / Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System released by Nintendo.
- An Excitebike trophy can be obtained in each installment of the Super Smash Bros. series. A bunch of 8-bit bikers from the game appear in Brawl, where they can be summoned through an Assist Trophy.
- In the The Legend of Zelda × Mario Kart 8 expansion pack for Mario Kart 8, one of the added courses is "Excitebike Arena", a course based on this game.
- A biker from Excitebike appears in Super Mario Maker as an unlockable Mystery Mushroom costume as part of an update.
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Allgame gave Excitebike their highest possible rating of five stars. The review referred to the game as a "staple of any NES collection" praising its graphics as cute and its control as simple that still require strategy to apply properly. The review noted the design mode, as "the first of its kind in a console game, and greatly extends the life of the title by featuring 19 different components you can piece together to build your own course." IGN praised the NES version in 2007, stating "One of the original NES games, Excitebike was one hell of a ride 23 years ago -- and it still is today." IGN praised it as "ridiculously addictive" and that it "proves video games don't need to have flashy graphics or complex AI to actually be fun. Sure, there are other racing games out there today, hundreds of them. This one may not necessarily be better than the recent stuff, but it's unique, addictive, and demonstrates what gaming is really about." GamesRadar ranked it the 15th best NES game ever made. The staff felt it was underestimated by people and praised the challenge.
Kotaku editor Jason Schreier was less enthusiastic about Excitebike when comparing it to the other games available on the NES Classic Edition. He ranked it as the worst game on the console, calling it "a truly awful video game".
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