Rev your engines because in this episode we're taking a look at the motocross launch title, Excitebike!
IS IT STILL FUN?
We can safely say that for any fan of racing games, Excitebike is still fun. The gameplay is simple, but rewarding. You control your racer through a series of obstacles as you compete for a faster time. This is a game anyone can finish, but few will master. What it lacks in stages, "races" and 2 player, it totally makes up for with the unique concept of the design mode. To see this on an NES launch game is just incredible. Game design at the time was the furthest stretch away from possible for a hobbyist forget about an 8-year old. And yet, with Excitebike we have endless replay value from the ability to design our own courses. Imagine this feature if Super Mario Bros. was packed with a design mode. It took Nintendo another twenty-one years to bring Mario Maker to Wii U.
IS IT STILL PLAYABLE?
Excitebike is all about control of your vehicle. While you're punished pretty harshly on time if you make a mistake, the satisfaction of learning a course and knowing how to control your bike is worth the cost of entry. We think anyone can still pick up and play Excitebike. As far as accessibility, Excitebike offers many options to play. In addition to the NES cartridge, it was also released on the Game Boy Advanced as part of the NES Classic series, The E-reader, and on the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS virtual console. It also appears as a bonus game in Animal Crossing for the GameCube which is in my opinion one of the more interesting ways to play all these NES games. It's also on the currently "rare" NES Classic. If you get yourself a copy (currently they are around $10 loose on eBay), let us know what you think!
IS IT STILL IMPORTANT?
Designed by Nintendo Legend Shigeru Miyamoto and the prestigious R&D1 team, in hindsight it's easy to think that Excitebike would be a success. But this is an NES launch game and by no means was the name, "Miyamoto" considered praise worthy yet. Excitebike launched a series of Excite games, but that alone is not enough to say it's important. What makes Excitebike important is the ability to design your course and put an emphasis on game design at a time where that was not a concept kids were thinking about.
THE VERDICT: Excitebike is fun, fast, and replayable. It offers enough to justify playing it just once or for years to come. Excitebike is an ESSENTIAL GAME and while it only made the BRONZE list (2 votes in favor), that does deserve recognition. If you put the time into Excitebike, we have a hard time believing you won't find it fun.