Excitebike: World Rally Review
Excitebike: World Rally box art
System: Wii (WiiWare) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Monster Games, Inc. 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Nintendo 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 9, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Nostalgia can be a powerful thing, and it's obviously been the driving force behind many recent game remakes and revisits. Sometimes a game is worthy of a second shot, though oftentimes folks are merely reminded of just how far along gaming has come over the years. Excitebike, originally for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), now resurfaces on WiiWare in Excitebike: World Rally. Does this Nintendo classic have the goods to keep today's gamer entertained, or is it destined to bring back bad memories?

Excitebike: World Rally screenshot

If you played the original game all those many years ago, you'll be immediately familiar with the look and gameplay of World Rally. This isn't a complete departure from the old NES game, but you might be surprised at just how well its formula has aged.

Developed by the same folks (Monster Games) who brought us both Excite Truck and Excitebots for Wii, Excitebike: World Rally has been handled with loving care. The visuals aren't stunning, and the features are only knee-deep. But the gameplay is great fun; it's addictive and always challenging.

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For those folks unfamiliar with Excitebike, it's a motocross game in which you race against the clock. Rather than the focus being on crossing the finish line first, your goal is to run the course (two laps for each race) as fast and cleanly as possible, competing for the best time. You're ranked at the end of each race, with ranks ranging from D (worst) to S rank.

There are two main modes of play in World Rally - cup racing and online multiplayer. The single-player component offers four cups with four races apiece. It's a fairly sizeable package for a WiiWare game, and considering Excitebike's level of challenge, most folks should be able to squeeze quite a number of hours out of it.

Excitebike: World Rally screenshot

Let it not be said that Nintendo no longer does "hardcore." Excitebike: World Rally might not tip toward the extreme difficulty of, say, F-Zero GX (Gamecube), but the game will certainly give even the most seasoned players a run for their money. You can unlock all of the tracks for a particular cup simply by completing races, but you'll have to get at least a B rank in each race in order to unlock additional cups. Sounds easy, right?

Excitebike is all about timing and landing properly. In that respect, the game can almost be likened to a traditional 2D Sonic game, minus the exaggerated sense of speed. You'll have to make strategic use of the turbo mechanic without overheating your ride, and when coming down off a jump, you'll need to make sure your bike lands at just the right angle in order to maintain top speed. It's a simple formula, but the actual races are anything but straightforward.

In this WiiWare revamp, you'll control your motorcycle with just the Wii Remote, and it feels great. There are, however, two ways to approach the controls - Normal or Classic-style. The only difference between the two control types is that in Normal mode you have to tilt the Wii Remote in order to pitch your bike backward and forward. It's not our preferred scheme, however, since the mechanic isn't as reliable as the good ol' D-pad.

Excitebike: World Rally screenshot

With the Classic controls, you switch lanes by pushing up or down on the D-pad, pitch by pushing left or right, accelerate with the 2 button, and turbo with the 1 button. There's a temperature gauge on the bottom-left of the screen, and your engine heats up each time you make use of your turbo. Instead of boost markers, Excitebike has cool-down pads placed at various spots along a track. Hitting cool-down pads in order to maximize use of the turbo mechanic is essential in almost all of the races past the Silver (second) cup, as merely making a B rank is no easy task.

Screenshots / Images
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