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Excitebike[a] is a motocross racing video game developed and published by Nintendo. In Japan, it was released for the Famicom in 1984 and then ported to arcades as Vs. Excitebike for the Nintendo Vs. System later the same year. In North America, it was initially released for arcades in 1985 and then as a launch title for the Nintendo Entertainment System later the same year, becoming one of the best selling games on the console. It is the first game in the Excite series.
Soyo Oka (FDS version)
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
The game was a critical and commercial success. Designed and directed by Shigeru Miyamoto, the smooth side-scrolling game engine his team developed for Excitebike was later used to develop Super Mario Bros. (1985), which had the effect of Mario smoothly accelerating from a walk to a run, rather than move at a constant speed.
Excitebike spawned a number of sequels and has been re-released multiple times onto other Nintendo platforms, such the Wii and Wii U via the Virtual Console and Nintendo Switch via Nintendo Switch Online.
Excitebike is a side-scrolling racing game in which the player takes control of a motocross racer. The game features two gameplay modes named Selection A and Selection B. Selection A is a solo race run, while Selection B puts the racer against computer-controlled opponents. The objective of the game is to finish in third place or higher in a preliminary race to qualify for the Excitebike championship race. The A button accelerates the bike, while the B button activates a turbo boost that enhances the bike's speed, but overheats the engine if it is used for too long, forcing an immobile cooldown period. The engine's temperature can be reset by driving over arrows located along the course. The player can use the directional pad to shift between lanes, as well as shift the racer's balance midair after a jump. Landing squarely on both wheels allows the racer to maintain their momentum, while an uneven landing will result in a loss of speed or a crash. Excitebike features a Design Mode that allows players to create their own tracks using 19 types of hurdles. The Design Mode features options to save and load created tracks that are inoperable in Western releases as they were designed for the Famicom Data Recorder, which was unreleased outside Japan.
Ports and remakesEdit
There are two enhanced versions, both titled Vs. Excitebike.
The first version was released for arcades in 1984, after the Famicom release. The game was based around the VS. UniSystem unit. It is similar to its Famicom Disc System counterpart, though this version has the Design option gone and in the main game there are three difficulty levels (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced), and there are seven tracks, just like the Famicom Disc System version. This is the original game with the NES version shortening some tracks and rearrangement of track obstacles (for example, track 5 is a shorter modified version of the original track 7). In addition, there is no track editor. The first race is qualifier and has no CPU bikers as obstacles, they appear in the "race" mode (in reality, the player is only racing against the clock and does not compete with the other riders; they are only there as obstacles). As in real-life supercross heat races, riders must complete the track in fifth position or higher to advance.
The second was released for the Famicom Disk System peripheral in 1988. While the graphics and core gameplay are still the same, the FDS version has several distinctive features that the NES and arcade versions lack:
- The game features a versus mode named "Vs. Excite", in which two players compete against each other. The options include the maximum number of rounds to play, the track, and the number of laps for said track.
- The music is completely different; none of the songs from the original game are present in this version, and a theme is played during gameplay. The music is composed by Soyo Oka.
- The "Original Excite" mode is based on the main mode of the arcade version, with minor differences such as a different color palette.
- Its rewritable disk format also allows the player to save created tracks.
Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle StadiumEdit
Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium,[b] also known as Mario Excite Bike or BS Excitebike, is for the Japan-only Satellaview peripheral for Super Famicom. As a remake of Excitebike, the human racers have been replaced by Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Wario, Toad, and some of Bowser's Koopa Troopas. The concept of the game was unchanged except for a "SUPER" mode where the player has unlimited turbo, as well as the addition of coins. The coins are spread out on the courses and increase top speed.
Other ports and remakesEdit
Excitebike was added to the European Wii Virtual Console on February 16, 2007, the same day its spiritual successor, Excite Truck, was released there. The game was later added to the North American Virtual Console on March 19. It was re-released in North America for the Wii U Virtual Console on April 26, 2013. 3D Classics: Excitebike was released on the Nintendo 3DS as a launch game for the Nintendo eShop in America, Japan and Europe; the game was initially offered for free for a period but then was sold at £5.40 / €6.00 for European markets and $5.99 in the US. The game features 3D stereoscopic support and analog control support. This release was featured among other games from the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES to be released for the 3DS on a tech demo called Classic Games at E3 2010. The game allows the player to save up to 32 custom created tracks that can be played in either 2D or 3D. The game (alongside 29 other games) was included in the NES Classic Edition / Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System released by Nintendo on November 11, 2016. Excitebike was released on the Nintendo Switch in the Nintendo eShop on 21 September 2018 by Hamster Corporation as part of their Arcade Archives series.
In Japan, Game Machine listed VS. Excitebike on their January 15, 1985 issue as being the fifth most-successful table arcade unit of the month. In North America, the game was number 13 on the RePlay arcade software charts in December 1985. It ended the year as America's second highest-grossing arcade system game of 1985, below Nintendo's Hogan's Alley.
The game has received generally positive reviews. Allgame gave Excitebike its highest possible rating of five stars. The review referred to the game as a "staple of any NES collection", praising its graphics as cute and its control as simple that still require strategy to apply properly. The review noted the design mode, as "the first of its kind in a console game, and greatly extends the life of the title by featuring 19 different components you can piece together to build your own course". IGN praised the NES version in 2007: "One of the original NES games, Excitebike was one hell of a ride 23 years ago -- and it still is today." IGN praised it as "ridiculously addictive" and that it "proves video games don't need to have flashy graphics or complex AI to actually be fun. Sure, there are other racing games out there today, hundreds of them. This one may not necessarily be better than the recent stuff, but it's unique, addictive, and demonstrates what gaming is really about". IGN ranked Excitebike as the 14th best game on the NES. GamesRadar ranked it as the 12th best game on the NES Classic Edition, saying that it has aged well with "a great sense of speed while driving and an excellent sense of balance while jumping and landing". Game Informer ranked the game 44 on their top 100 games of all time.
Kotaku editor Jason Schreier was less enthusiastic about Excitebike when comparing it to the other games available on the NES Classic Edition. He ranked it as the worst game on the console, calling it "a truly awful video game" but with no further explanation as to why.
The side-scrolling gameplay of Excitebike played an important role in the development of Super Mario Bros. (1985). The same Miyamoto-led team that developed Excitebike went on to develop a 1985 NES port of side-scrolling beat 'em up arcade game Kung-Fu Master (1984) called Kung Fu. Miyamoto's team used the technical knowledge they had gained from working on both side-scrollers to further advance the platforming "athletic game" genre they had created with Donkey Kong (1981) and were key steps towards Miyamoto's vision of an expansive side-scrolling platformer. While working on Excitebike and Kung Fu, he came up with the concept of a platformer that would have the player "strategize while scrolling sideways" over long distances, and has colorful backgrounds rather than black backgrounds. Super Mario Bros. utilized the fast scrolling game engine Miyamoto's team had originally developed for Excitebike, which allowed Mario to smoothly accelerate from a walk to a run, rather than move at a constant speed like in earlier platformers.
Excitebike spawned a number of sequels, including Excitebike 64 (2000), Excite Truck (2006), Excitebots: Trick Racing (2009), and the WiiWare title Excitebike: World Rally (2009). An Excitebike-themed track was featured as downloadable content in Mario Kart 8.
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