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Reviews
This page will include Reviews from IGN(ign.com) and K-Gaming(k-gaming.com).




Review from IGN
If you've been playing videogames as long as we have, you should have no problem remembering back to the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System and, more specifically, to a little classic called Excitebike. The 2D side-scrolling racer, while simplistic in design, was one of the very best games the system had to offer thanks to clever and addictive gameplay mechanics that did their best to mimic reality despite the limits of the technology. It looked great for the time, felt great for the time, and was a whole lot of fun.
Now Nintendo has contracted developer Left Field Studios (Kobe Bryant's NBA Courtside) to create the 64-bit update to the Excitebike franchise. The California based software house has not only perfectly recaptured the spirit of the classic for this jaw-dropping N64 adaptation, but upraised a fantastic 3D engine around it, and doused everything with buckets of wonderful new extras too. Extras like a superb physics engine, unequaled graphics, deliciously deep control, a tempting four-player mode, dead-on audio and enough courses and bonuses to keep gamers racing happy for a long time to come. All of this comes together for what IGN64 feels is the best Nintendo 64 racing experience to be had thus far, rivaling Nintendo's own Wave Race 64.

Features
  • Track editor enables players to build courses from scratch with plenty of jumps, tabletops and dips.
  • 20 tracks with six stadium, stunt tracks, and six outdoor rally tracks.
  • Realistic physics engine.
  • Authentic rider animations for crashes, jumps and knocks.
  • More than a dozen outrageous tricks.
  • Several types of motorbikes.
  • Adjustable camera angles for capturing the best racing and stunt action.
  • Four-player simultaneous support.
  • 4MB Expansion Pak compatible for optional high-resolution mode.
  • Licenses include Bell Helmets, Thor, Scott USA, Shoei, and FMF.
  • Classic Excitebike included.
Gameplay
Excitebike 64 plays and feels exactly as you'd hope it would -- just like the original, only now it's all in full 3D. The bikes are maneuvered with the analog stick, the A button accelerates, and the B button brakes. Back is the classic turbo option, which is now mapped to the Z-trigger. And these are the basics. Using just the stick and these buttons, you should have no trouble completing races, and even ranking high in some of them. As the courses increase in difficulty, though, you're going to need to dig deeper into the subtle extras of the control scheme if you're to have any chance of competing. If you examine the Tutorial mode -- and you should because it's very helpful -- you'll begin to understand just how important these extra options are. You'll learn how to use the R button in order to position your bike while in mid-air. Once you've mastered it, you'll be able to better prepare yourself for sharp turns by angling your bike to land at the proper angle. You'll also learn about the extra turbo boost. At the top of any given jump, you can double-tap the Z-trigger for an added boost to your bike's power. This is hugely important to clearing big jumps or regaining your speed after you've landed directly on a slowing bump. You'll also learn how to use the R button in conjunction with the B button to skid around corners -- another must in making sharp turns and staying in the race. And these are just a few examples of the totally intuitive control setup that makes up Excitebike 64 -- a scheme that is both reminiscent of the classic game and at the same time significantly more extensive in order to stay true to the 3D environments that surround it.

The title features several different modes of play including Season, Exhibition, Time Trials and Special Tracks. Season Mode is Excitebike 64's main challenge and features 20 courses to hammer through, but only five available at start. Once you've raced through the first five (or Bronze Round, as it's called) and survived, you'll be able to progress to the next five (or Silver Round). Once you've beaten Silver Round, you'll unlock the next five races (and the game's Soccer Mode, which is multiplayer only). This continues until you've managed your way through the remaining tracks.

The tracks themselves, which increase in difficulty as you advance, are positively unique and brilliant from beginning to end. Left Field has delivered a delicate balance of realistic in-door stadium tracks and over-the-top outdoor courses. Indoor tracks generally brandish a standard, but fun selection of dirt jumps, sharp turns and mud puddles, and much more arcade-like outdoor environments often boast gigantic chasm jumps, lots of hidden shortcuts, and even areas where you can sky-ride over cranes and moving trains. Each track is varied enough so that the racing is never dull. The outdoor environments in particular are wonderfully creative; you can race through deserts, jungles, caves, construction zones, washes, forests, and more. Course design is clever and rewarding so, for example, if you're skilled enough to land perfectly on an upraised steel beam in the Construction Course, you might find an entire secret area that you didn't know existed just beyond it.

Excitebike 64's sense of speed is solid, and it mixes well with the high-flying action of the title. You can't catch big air, after all, without lots of speed. The z-trigger turbo boost keeps the races moving and Left Field has implemented a simple, but effective stunt system that features upwards of 30 mid-air tricks that are executed using the c-down button in conjunction with other buttons and the analog stick. So, it's possible to pull off Nothings, Nac Nacs and the like by pressing, for example, c-down, up and down. The stunt system isn't quite as satisfying as Wave Race's as many of the maneuvers can be executed very easily, but it gets the job done all the same.

The title features several Special Tracks that are unlocked by completing various tasks. The tracks include Desert, a randomly generated desert course in which you must race to a series of bonfires located atop hills before the competition can get their first; Stunt Course, an open stadium filled with jumps that serves us the perfect spot to practice stunts and rank up points; Original Excitebike, the classic 2D racer that inspired this 64-bit update; Soccer, a multiplayer mode where two or four-players can play the sport of Soccer using dirtbikes (probably inspired by the identical Buck Bumble multiplayer mode); Hill Climb, a splendidly addictive mode where the only thing you have to do is make it to the top of a series of hills -- the problem is, of course, gravity, which knocks your bike over whenever it gets the chance; and Excite 3D, the 3D update to the original Excitebike levels. This mode is quite welcomed because not only can you play the levels in full 3D, but you can switch to an isometric view as well by hitting one of the c-buttons. Each view has a different feel to it and both are very entertaining.

Multiplayer
Excitebike 64's multiplayer mode is a lot of fun as it is essentially the single-player action multiplied for more people. The top physics and look of the game remain intact. While Exhibition races in multiplayer are fun as you can fly through all of the single-player tracks, the real draw comes in the Special Tracks. Uphill Climb, Soccer, and the Stunt Course in particularly are loads of fun with two-players and everything still runs with a respectable framerate. With four-players on-screen, the fluidity is a bit jerkier, but it's still very playable despite the impressive physics and architecture sometimes being pushed.

Track Editor
The game features a simplistic track editor feature that, while limited, works quite nicely. Using it, you're able to create your own in-door track within a pre-set value of space -- generally the size of your typical in-door level.

Score: 9.7/10


Review from K-Gaming
Another form of racing game released, but this time a bicycle game. The sport of biking is big especially in the US, proving one of the more popular all-terrain sports, although how does the computer game compare to the real-life sport? Longtime gamers who owned a Nintendo Entertainment System may remember ExciteBike, a game where players navigated straight tracks with multiple jumps and ramps. As expected, the Nintendo64 version puts the game into a 3D world and adds curves to the courses, but the actual gameplay retains the relative simplicity of the original. In the case of ExciteBike 64, this is a good thing. The easy play mechanics and relatively unique style compared to other racers make it a fun game for many players.

Like the original ExciteBike, ExciteBike 64 emphasizes jumping and timing over raw speed. Simply pressing the accelerator for the entire race will cause the bike to overheat and the rider to tumble uncontrollably on the hills. Instead, players must plan when to jump so that the biker will clear as many bumps as possible and still land properly. Learning to control the bike properly takes some practice, as the bikes do indeed feel extremely light and touchy initially. But once players learn the game's general physics, the game's control becomes quite manageable.

ExciteBike 64 offers a relatively extensive collection of options and tracks. Players can choose among the expected modes of play, including a full season, a time trial, and an exhibition mode. As with many Nintendo64 games, up to four players can compete against each other. In addition to the standard tracks, players can unlock bonus ones, which give gamers reasons to improve their scores. One of the bonus tracks that players can select is the original NES game. Most gamers who started to play games during the 32-bit generation or later will probably play the NES version a few times out of curiosity and then return to the main game. Older gamers will likely enjoy the original tracks more, although even they will play it much less frequently than the newer modes.

If players don't want to take the time to earn the hidden tracks, they can create their own courses with the game's track editor. Players can then race their own tracks just as if the tracks were originals from the game. These options definitely help to add longevity to ExciteBike 64 game and keep it interesting.

The graphics and sounds do their jobs. Tracks scroll smoothly with little draw-in during the one-player game and a minimal performance hit in multi-player modes. The courses and players feature an average amount of detail. Sound effects consist of plenty of engine noise as well as the sounds of racers tumbling over the dirt. Overall, the technical aspects of the game don't amaze, but they certainly manage to portray an appropriate environment for the game.

Players who want a different and entertaining racing game will find plenty to enjoy in ExciteBike 64. Most gamers will feel comfortable with the gameplay in a reasonably short period of time. The large amount of tracks along with the track editor and mutli-player modes offer incentives to keep gamers interested for a long period of time. Gamers who seek a racer that offers speed thrills will not find what they desire in ExciteBike 64. However, players who wish to try a game with a unique overall style compared to most racers should give ExciteBike 64 a try. A valiant effort for a fairly original game, which should prove very successful in forth coming months!

Score: 8/10

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