Will keep you interested, but is unfortunately outdated
Back in the 80's when racing games were few and far between, out comes Excite Bike. Though not exciting in the sense of the word, it was pretty innovative and fun to play.
The racetrack is divided into four lanes. Ramps and jumps are placed throughout each level. Certain obstacles will slow you down, while others are used for aerial jumping. Each ramp propels you at a certain angle, so every time you go of one you must make sure to always use Left and Right to balance yourself out. The better you land, the less you will lose speed.
The main focus of the game is to beat the clock. Placing 3rd or above in the time ranks will bring you to the next track. Or you can just jump straight to the race you wish to choose on the menu. There are a total of 5 tracks. The option to include computers adds a nice bit strategy to it. While racing computers seems easy, they are really hard. Even though there are four in the start, the more you pass, the more you meet, which makes it look as though there are 20 other computers racing against you, which is really cool when you play. Passing them on a straightaway is relatively simple, but the use of the games ramps and obstacles make it increasingly hard. This makes the game much more challenging, and though I doubt this, the computer does seem "intelligent" enough to make you crash and block your attempts at passing.
This was one of the first games to include the feature of "saving your own custom made track" for others to play. The track editor included over 20 pieces of track to put down, which tends to be more than you get these days anyway! You can place grass, oil slicks, ramps, hills, bumps, all in a different order which pretty much highlights the map editor. As well as this, you can set the number of laps. The large number of pieces can be combined and used together to create VERY interesting jumps and maneuvers.
The game is not as easy as it may seem. It is very challenging to get the hang of landing perfectly and passing computers seems hard no matter how much you practice the level. This game certainly keeps you occupied, and the level editor keeps you going even when you've mastered all the pre-made ones.
Through all of this, the game kept me occupied and interested, which was refreshing since most of the NES games will only keep my attention for a little while. This is a good reason to get the game if you find other NES games do not hold your attention long enough.
The fact that it doesn't support two players really bugged me. The screen is certainly big enough for a split-screen because most of the upper half is grass and the stadium. Plus that, other games coming out around this time such as Clu-clu Land and Ice Climber were great at multiplayer, but perhaps the split-screen was too much to handle.
The other horrible part about this game was the fact that the tracks won't save when the NES is shut off or reset, meaning every time you turn on the NES you will have to rebuild your track. The save/load feature only pertains to the game. What's even weirder is that the Japanese Famicom version had this feature. Finally, the save and load times for the levels were ASTRONOMICAL. I once had to wait 2 minutes for a level to load!
When it comes to graphics and sound, it doesn't excel here. The graphics are typical of that style of games at the time, but the music is not the catchy tunes we are accustomed to from Mario
And lastly, the main reason this game is outdated is because on Excite Bike 64
, it was included as a mini-game. That means for the same price for two games. Plus, the N64 game is a lot easier to find than the NES version.
The Bottom Line
While the track editor is very defective, the tracks included and the large numbers of computers on each race track make for a very fun and interesting game. The game will keep you occupied longer than most other NES games will. But if you aren't a vintage game collector, the N64 sequel is a much easier find, and even if you don't like the sequel, it is still worth picking up for just to play this game.