A couple of weeks ago when this game was announced I made a post strictly to state how excited I was about it. Hell I’m sure it’s only a couple of posts below this one so scroll down a tiny bit if you missed it. No real news, just this is happening and I am pumped about it. I love that Nintendo managed to keep the game’s existence an absolute secret until it was ready for release so there was no waiting. You only had to wait two weeks from when you learned it was a thing, to when you could purchase that same thing.
Plus it gave me a legitimate reason to watch the kind of terrible but oddly engaging Nintendo Week.
Now Excitebike was one of my favourite NES games and I put an unholy number of hours into Excitetruck when it first came out (32 according to the Wii records, although they also say I put 18 into Price is Right and that….that just can’t be true) so how could this possibly go wrong?
Short answer – it can’t, and it didn’t.
Long answer – Excitebike World Rally is pretty much exactly what a fan of the original game could hope for. They managed to update it just enough to make the experience fresh, and yet it still retains the classic Excitebike look and feel. It really is the perfect balance between new and old.
What makes it even better is that the game allows the player to decide if they want a primarily retro experience, or something a little more evolved. First, you can now switch between two different perspectives. There’s of course the classic side view of the original game, which is personally how I play. You can also flip over to a more 3D perspective, shown in the image below.
Both of these perspectives are fine, but I just can’t help but play in the classic style. It feels so right.
You can do the same thing with the control scheme. You play by holding the Wii remote sideways and can go with traditional controls or motion controls. Traditional maps things like wheelies and leaning the bike to the d-pad, while the motions controls have you tilt the remote back and forth. Again I’m much more inclined to stick with the traditional controls but once I started actually using the motion controls I found that eventually they become second nature.
Anyone who has played the original game will feel right at home the second they get into a race. Yes the game looks and sounds better (thank god they included that classic Excitebike music), but the game feels exactly like Excitebike. Many of the course obstacles are identical, overheating is still a constant fear, etc.
There are some additions to the game play, such as the new ability to wheelie over an opponent in order pass them. The coolest addition however is now being able to land on people’s heads and knock them out. There’s nothing more satisfying (well there probably is, but this is easily top 20) then landing a huge jump on top of your opponent’s head and using that momentum to go even faster. The only thing that would maybe make it better is if there was a loud crunching sound and your opponent just kind of flopped over. It would be ridiculously satisfying but I guess murder doesn’t fit into the world of Excitebike.
The set-up and presentation of the game will be immediately familiar to anyone who played Excitetruck or Excitebots. You have different cups (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum), each of which contain four tracks named after different locations. You get a letter grade based on performance in each track, the highest grade being ‘S’. The only way to unlock things such as tracks and paint jobs is by getting an S rank on each track, which for the most part actually isn’t all that hard to do. Except for on Platinum of course. Those tracks are going to make you want to eat the controller.
The single player experience is definitely fun, but could be short-lived. Thankfully when you’re done there, you can hop online and play either against friends or anyone else you can find. The online is fast, easy and a lot of fun. Plus to unlock everything in the game you need to earn 1,000 points online and even if you dominate this game, that’s going to take some time. Right now there seems to be a lot of people playing but I don’t know how long that community will last (some game about the army just came out that I guess is pretty popular?) so if you’re interested I would get in there as fast as possible.
The track editor also makes a triumphant return here, allowing you to design your own tracks, as well as hop online and play ones designed by others. So overall, there is a ton of value here for your 10 dollars.
If you’re a fan of the original game, then purchasing this really is a no-brainer. It could be the easiest decision you will ever make. If you are unfamiliar with the original I would still give this one a look. It’s simple, it’s charming, and it’s a whole hell of a lot of fun.