Excitebike is as exciting as Poohsticks. Real exciting. You play a chef that has to save the world through the power of dance.
Unfortunately, an evil wizard has encased your body in a mystic armour in the shape of a motorcyclist and turned your oboe into a motorbike. The only way to return back to normal and get back to busting some moves is to drive through a series of tracks and win. Or you could lose, but what’s the point in that.
The trouble with Excitebike is your wheels are rubbish. Some bikes go 0 – 60 in x seconds. This bike overheats in half that time. Your job is to keep your bike within a sustainable temperature without burning a hole in your scrote, whilst also jumping an assortment of jumps that are quite pointy.
In classic ’80’s style gaming, it’s a side scroller and conveniently you do laps without having to turn other than navigate the four lanes, should there be oil patches on the track. It’s a bit of a health and safety issue really as these are professional riders – including a chef – that are racing to the finish but having to avoid these unsightly stains that cause them to slow down. It does keep the bike temperature down though. Forget the race. Safety first.
Excitebike is a part of my nostalgic gaming library where I was dazzled by the graphics. The NES had so much more colour than the Spectrum and it booted up in a 1/3 of the time. That’s not a scientific fact but in terms of being a kid impatiently waiting to play a game, it was welcomed witchcraft.
NES games though were impossible for mortals like me. From memory, I think I got to the second track once. I don’t know why I was so bad but my thumbs weren’t big enough for the two buttons. Plus the glasses I didn’t wear steamed up. That, or any other inexcusable excuse.
There are far better motorbike games, but they never existed back then. I suppose the closest was Ninja Scooter on the Spectrum. It was a lot more exciting but had fewer colours and was played with the keyboard. Unless you were rich and had a joystick and gold plated taps in your bathroom.
The next best thing, I believe, would have been Road Rash. It was a console game primarily but I had it on my trusty Amiga 500 and it was proper good. The camera view was different as it was third-person and the tracks were seemingly endless and just so ‘life-like’. At the time. You could punch and kick opponents – even hit them with a chain or bat. You could even upgrade your bike and not once did it overheat.
The ultimate motorbike game for someone not into motorbikes but into motorbike games was Super Hang-On. There were a couple of variations of the machine but hands down the best one was the full-size bike you could sit on that has a built-in monitor in the visor. It was the mutts.
I remember as a kid grown-ups would straddle the beast and turn with ease. There were even a few actual riders who would come into the arcade with their helmet on and play. Show-offs. It looked cool though. The best bit though was how realistic it was. If you swayed off course and crashed, you’d explode into a ball of flames. I’ve lost count how many times that has happened to me in real life. Thankfully I got better each time.
So, is Excitebike any good? Nah, not really. Good enough to play and catch some screenshots for this beautiful website then take back to the shop for a refund. But, I didn’t pay for it, did I? Nope. It’s part of the glorious NES Online catalogue that is free to play with your membership. Rejoice.
Now, go hunting for the full-size Super Hang-On and get some shots of it and post it to Instagram. When you’ve done that, let me know on Instagram and I’ll be your best friend for a week.