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Excitebike 64

Rated E for Everyone

Platform:

Nintendo 64 (N64)

Publisher:

Nintendo

Developer:

Left Field Productions

Released:

May 2000

ROM Size:

128 megabits

Players:

One to Four Simultaneous

Genre:

Sports (Racing/Driving)

Save:

Cartridge and Controller Pak

Optional:

Expansion Pak, Rumble Pak

 

 

> Final Rating: 4.4 out of 5.0

Introduction

It's the sequel that was 15 years in the making. The original Excitebike appeared for the 8-bit NES in 1985, and now in the year 2000 we finally get Excitebike 64. Let it be known immediately that Nintendo has a knack for making extreme sports games. Excitebike 64 follows in the excellent footsteps of Wave Race 64 and 1080 Snowboarding. Yes, it's awesome enough to be mentioned in the same breath as those two classics.

 

Excitebike 64 comes from Left Field Productions, developers of the two NBA Courtside games for N64. With indoor and outdoor dirt bike racing being all the rage at this time, Excitebike 64 concentrates on delivering a realistic racing experience while maintaining Nintendo's tradition of keeping the game very fun and simple to play.

Gameplay & Control

Unlike EA Sports' Supercross 2000 and Acclaim's Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000, Excitebike 64 doesn't feature actual riders or tracks. Instead, it features actual sponsors such as Shoei, Fox Racing, No Fear, and others.

 

Like its extreme sport siblings on the system, Excitebike 64 is realistic, yet it does include some arcade-type features that prevent it from being labeled a simulation game. And just like those aforementioned game, this definitely helps increase the fun factor and overall enjoyment of the game.

 

Course design alternates between indoor arenas and outdoor courses. The three-lap indoor arena tracks feature lots of whoops (small hills one after another) and tight turns—just like actual Supercross tracks. An average lap may take 30 to 45 seconds. The two-lap outdoor courses feature huge hills and dips, wide turns, and elements of nature. An average lap takes one minute to one minute and 30 seconds.

 

The main menu in Excitebike 64 lets you choose from the following: Season, Exhibition Race, Time Trials, Special Tracks, Options, and Custom Tracks.

 

The Season mode is the main single-player game. You must finish first overall in each five-race round to move on to the next one. Courses alternate between indoor and outdoor. You get five points for first place, three points for second place, two points for third place, and one point for fourth place. You race against five other riders. As you get further in this mode, you'll open up new tracks, more difficulty levels, and other secrets. Even though things start out easy, you'll find out quickly how tough the game can get. Additionally, there's a Tutorial mode underneath the Season menu that you should complete—trust me.

 

The Exhibition mode lets up to four players race any track opened from the Season mode. If you're playing a two-player game, you'll notice how the screen becomes letterboxed slightly on all sides. No big deal if it keeps the game fast and smooth. In addition, a maximum of two CPU riders—for a total of four riders—can be on the track with you. In the three- and four-player modes, you can't have the computer play. An important note is that all players can pick the same rider—unlike in some other multi-player games.

 

Time Trials is your typical race against time mode. The game also saves your best times from the Season and Exhibition modes. If you have a Controller Pak, you can save a ghost rider from any race and load it to race against in the future.

 

One of the most intriguing modes in Excitebike 64 is the Special Tracks menu option. Initially, only the Desert and Stunt courses are open. But you can unlock other secrets, including multi-player Soccer and the original Excitebike, from the Season mode.

 

In the Desert course, which only can be raced by one player, your objective is to put out campfires by touching them. You have to follow the arrow to the smoking fires by riding up and down hills and across lots of rough terrain. The course generates randomly each time you play, too.

 

The Stunt course is very cool. Better yet, one to four players can participate! You get points for performing stunts. The more air you get, the higher point total for the stunts. You'll get even more points if you can string together combinations of tricks. You have two minutes to get the most points, and if you're good enough, your score will be saved. Some of the tricks include the No Hander, Nac Nac, Saran Wrap, Nothing, and Heel Clicker. Then each rider has his or her specialty—maybe a Superman or a Cordova.

 

Excitebike 64 contains your typical choices in the Options mode. You can toggle sound volumes, view high scores, change controller configurations, watch credits, and so on. But the game also contains a high-resolution mode that can be switched on if you have the Expansion Pak. It's not available with the Tutorial, Special Tracks, or multi-player modes, though. The "hi-res" option makes everything look more clear and sharp—but it also letterboxes the one-player mode. You'll have to try both options to see if you prefer the normal, full view or the high-resolution, letterboxed view.

 

Finally, just like the revolutionary option that first appeared in the original 15 years ago, Excitebike 64 does feature a track editor under the Custom Tracks menu choice. You must have a Controller Pak to save your creation, however. As a whole, it's the best  track editor to appear in an N64 game thus far. You can create indoor courses only with ease, and you have lots of control over what to add. You can change the dirt type between dirt, mud, and sand. You can add different turns and can raise or bank them. There are 12 different styles of jumps, too, including tabletops and whoops.

 

Control in Excitebike 64 is excellent—that is, once you get used to it. Like Wave Race 64 and 1080 Snowboarding, it's very loose. You'll be smacking into many walls and barriers until you learn how to take bends. Somewhat surprisingly, you can use either the Control Pad or the Control Stick. The A button accelerates, the B button is used to brake and to walk the bike backwards, and the R button is a slide. Within the C group, Top C toggles through camera angles, Left C turns on the stunt camera, Right C toggles on-screen displays on or off, and Bottom C must be held down for tricks. Finally, the L or Z button is turbo.

 

Turbo is really the key to the gameplay in Excitebike 64. Just like the original, you'll want to hold down the turbo button as much as possible to increase your speed. But your turbo button increases the RPMs (revolutions per minute) on your bike greatly, which could cause it to overheat if you use too much turbo in too short of a time period. Once you've overheated, your bike and rider will start flashing red. Then it will take about five seconds for your speed to come down. During this time, you can't even use the accelerator. Fortunately, a warning beep will sound once you get dangerously close to overheating. Furthermore, you can double tap the turbo button at the top of a hill to get an extra boost in the air.

 

Tricks are accomplished easily in the game, too. When you're flying through the air, you can hold down the Bottom C—or the Bottom C and R buttons—while performing a motion with the Control Stick or Control Pad. For example, a No Hander is performed by holding Bottom C and then by pressing down and then up on the Control Stick or Control Pad. Quarter-circle and half-circle motions a la Street Fighter II will be needed, too.

 

The best thing about Excitebike 64 is that the races are fast and fun. If you use turbo properly, the races will move along quickly with lots of big air. Even though only six riders total are in the pack in the one-player mode, the artificial intelligence is setup so that a cluster of riders will be relatively close to each other. Nevertheless, if you do race near perfect, then the computer won't "cheat" to catch up to you. You'll do as well as you deserve. With the close races, a useful tactic is to try to bump people from their bikes. If you hit their front tire, they'll wreck. If you hit their back tire, however, then you'll wreck. It makes things even more interesting.

Graphics & Sound

Compared to EA Sports' Supercross 2000, Acclaim's Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000, and Kemco's Top Gear Hyper-Bike, Excitebike 64 looks much, much better. The downside is that there are few riders on the track. The positives are numerous. For example, the frame rate is smoother and faster. The surroundings are much more detailed—little touches like speakers and construction equipment for the indoor arenas and covered bridges and flowing rivers for the outdoor courses. Rider animation is noticeably better, too, with fist-pumpin' action, head movement at the starting gate, and impressive stunt maneuvers in the air. Finally, the multi-player mode is surprisingly smooth and fast. It's light years beyond the one in Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000.

 

The sound is very good, too. You can expect a variety of blood-pumping, rocking musical tracks. They're not like the tunes in 1080 Snowboarding, which might be good if you thought those were cheesy, but they do fit the extreme sports nature of the game. Sound effects are equally impressive. You can expect loud, revving engines. You can expect crowd reactions. You also can expect a public address announcer who details the position of riders every now and then and mentions when you wreck or take someone out.

Conclusion

To put it simply, Excitebike 64 rocks. If you dug Wave Race 64 or 1080 Snowboarding, then you'll definitely dig this game. Other than the innovative turbo feature, however, Excitebike 64 doesn't quite revolutionize graphics or gameplay like those games did in their time. Nevertheless, Excitebike 64 proves that it belongs in the third generation of N64 games. It's a great game to add to your collection, especially since it has strong multi-player modes.

 

Graphics:

4.6

Sound:

4.4

Control:

4.3

Gameplay:

4.4

Lastability

4.5

OVERALL:

4.4

 

DOWN THE ROAD

Not available.

 

Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: May 29, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A

 

 

 

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