Excitebike (Famicom, 1984)

 

 

EXCITEBIKE

 

PUBLISHED/DEVELOPED: Nintendo

RELEASE DATE: 11/30/84 (JP), 10/18/85 (US), 09/01/86 (EU)

ALSO ON: Arcade, e-Reader, Famicom Disk System, Game Boy Advance, NES Classic, Nintendo Switch, NS Online, NEC PC88, Sharp X1, Virtual Console (Wii, Wii U, 3DS)

 

Excitebike continues to teach and inspire nearly forty years after its original Famicom release. For example, did you know that driving over the snazzy arrows on the track actually lowers your bike’s temperature? I didn’t, and I’ve been playing this game since I was five years old. That’s mindblowing to me! My lack of knowledge also explains why I could never get past stage 3, despite driving as fast as possible. Overheating sucks. Hit the arrows, young Dylan. Hit the arrows.

 

The champion reigns supreme.

 

I may have looked over the arrows these last thirty years, but that doesn’t mean Excitebike is about the small details. Nintendo’s motorbike game satisfies simple pleasures, such as: going fast and feeling awesome, poppin’ wheelies and landing without crashing, and giving your fellow bikers severe road rash. Also, if you’re young or just young at heart, watching your motorbike man roll down a particularly steep hurdle is always amusing.

 

Yes, I’m in deep “d’oh” now.

 

Excitebike provides three beautiful options. #1: Race against the computer’s best time on five expertly designed courses. #2: Race against the computer’s best time while bikers drive into and around you on the same five courses. #3: Design your own damn course and show the rest of us how it’s done. The first option was always my favorite and remains so today. Speedy solitary biking is a slice of heaven for me. The second option makes the track feel cluttered, and while I acknowledge that this is the point, that doesn’t mean weaving between other bikers is particularly enjoyable. The third option? I applaud its inclusion, but I’m not now nor have I ever been interested in designing a game myself. Even if I was, you can’t save the custom tracks once you’re finished. So that’s poop.

 

This is not an inclusive alphabet.

 

But is Excitebike just for the 80s kids? Of course not, and how dare I even ask such a question. Excitebike is for all of God’s children, regardless of when they were born. Oh, the wisdom it imparts. When I was young, the game taught me basic eye-hand coordination. It showed me that popping wheelies on a motorbike over a big hurdle is a perfectly reasonable thing to attempt. And if you crash and burn while trying to clear said hurdle, the end result is funny, not painful.

 

Gray is the loneliest color…

 

Even if you ignore these valuable life lessons, Excitebike remains a breezy blast, an excellent early example of the “go fast at all costs” arcade racer for the Famicom.

 

A-

 

The boys are back in town.

 

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Third Star

Still wonder why some dudes call it Excite-A-Bike, and have since the ’80s. I remember some kid in school back then telling me he beat “Squoan,” and I had no idea what he was talking about, I didn’t even know the guy. I guess if I beat SqOOn I’d broadcast that too.

That kid probably plays Excite-A-Squoan.