|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Monster Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 20, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-6||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Even when we found ExciteBots more infuriating than fun, we always felt compelled to go back for just one more attempt. This won't be the case for everyone, though. For some, the aforementioned star system will be a deal-breaker. Still others will find the rubber-banding excessive.
The game's varying responses to crashes can be off-putting as well; sometimes, you have to keep trying the same trick over and over until you get it right, while your opponents get farther and farther ahead, but other times, you can crash without even losing a place. Finally, the controls aren't always as responsive as they could be, especially when it comes to cornering, performing the mid-air spin trick, and trying to move the Wii-mote in sync with your character's bar antics.
After honing skills on the main single-player game, players can explore a few other modes. In one, you can simply play the mini-games without any opponents around. Another is "Poker" racing - a dumb idea that somehow ended up on the final disc - where you drive around the track with your poker hand displayed at the bottom of the screen and come across a row of five cards. You select which card you want to discard with the D-pad, and drive through the card you want instead. When you have a hand you're happy with, you cash it in for stars and get a new hand. The racing element comes into play because if other bots beat you to the row of new cards, they get first pick. There's some novelty value, but it's not something that's worth mastering.
ExciteBots also features split-screen and online multiplayer, both of which are likely to become fan favorites. They work pretty much the way you'd expect them to, except that online you have to pick an amount of stars to wager on each race, and you're rewarded with (or lose) stars depending on your performance. The game is popular enough that it's easy to find matches over the Internet, and we noticed no technical problems with either of the multiplayer modes.
The presentation here is excellent, though there isn't much improvement over Excite Truck. The graphics are top-of-the-line, at least as far as the Wii is concerned, and the high speeds never trip up the framerate. Loading times are never noticeable. There's a nice variety of tracks from around the world, each with its own personality and detailed setting. The bots' animations are cute and fluid. The sound is also handled well, with upbeat, catchy rock/dance music that somehow never gets annoying. The effects don't stand out much, but they're suitably hyper, bouncy, and light-hearted.
The Wii has a great controller for racing, but so far it hasn't seen too many good racing games. Excite Truck was one exception, and ExciteBots is most certainly another: it's enjoyable, fast, challenging, and delightfully absurd. It's not a perfect game by any stretch, but it's definitely worthy of a place in any racing fan's library.
CCC Freelance Writer