Excitebike (NES) Retro Review


Excitebike is a 1985 motocross racing game for the NES developed and published by Nintendo. The aim of the game is to beat tracks as fast as you can while looking out for various things (e.g. your temperature, ramps, other racers).

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When first loading the game i found it odd but nice that it had a little tune. Graphics on the other hand seem surprisingly good, or at least they have their own charm to them (and its not nostalgia). One thing i found odd was the fact modes were called Selection A and Selection B but they’re easy to work out even without a manual. B has other bikers to race against while A doesn’t, my personal favorite is A because I’m not a big fan of other racers.

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As for gameplay, i felt it was both simple and full of depth. This was thanks to Temperature as you were given two buttons with two different speeds and using the faster one heated you up meaning you had to carefully swap between them for the best times. On top of this you had to dodge mud, gaps in the track and other rivals (In B mode) as well as keeping your bike straight when jumping over ramps. The reason i mentioned liking A mode more though was because touching the back of rival bikes causes you to crash which is something I’m way too good at doing. However i can safely say that even though i never got first place (during my review session) i still enjoyed it.

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There's a hidden message in this picture 😛

Getting into design mode i definitely found it a nice addition but sadly it had obviously aged like crazy. Without a manual you have to go through and remember what all the letters are, sounds bad but the real bad thing is they’re mostly the same thing in a different position (e.g. There’d be 2 letters for a small ramp, top and bottom). On top of this you can’t mix and match, this means something simple like having a boost pad top and bottom in the same row is actually impossible. The third noticeable problem was that you couldn’t go backwards while making a track meaning making a mistake meant you had to exit and re-enter the designer, not that bad but a little annoying. Despite all this though you can have some fun with it, although you do need to be slightly good at course design.

Overall its a good game, most of it hasn’t aged and is still quite fun and while the design mode has it doesn’t really matter since it always felt like an extra to the main game. I’d recommend giving it a try (if you somehow haven’t).

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