54: Excitebike

Genre: Racing

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 1985

Basic Idea: Pop wheelies and destroy the lives of as many other bikers as possible.

Review: The second best launch-title for the NES has somewhat of a cult following.  The game is pretty awesome, but has become a bit overrated as time has gone by.

The game consists of five stages where you are racing against the clock.  Other bikers will race along side you, but they are just there to try to trip you up.  The level designs are fairly creative and require you to time jumps, hit speed strips, pop wheelies over bumps to avoid crashing, and tap the brakes on occasion to keep from overheating.  The play control is perfect, and it’s pretty much a flawless game, impressive for 1985 and still playable today.  It’s even got a level-design mode, which is user-friendly, but unfortunately not savable after you shut the game off.

Thing is the game is just so limited.  The 2-player mode is just alternating play. And since the game doesn’t save anything, the only way to compete with yourself over the long-haul is to keep a notebook of your best times.  It’s great for a quick play just about anytime, but there’s not enough here for me to throw it into the top fifty.

5 thoughts on “54: Excitebike”

  1. I probably spent eleventy-twelve hours playing this game, primarily with my best friend at the time, Don Pelto. The idea of designing our own levels was endlessly fascinating (and at the time, of course, the fact that we couldn’t save them didn’t seem like a limitation; it was a feature we could barely wrap our heads around as it was). Don mostly just made the huge jumps over and over.

    As a sidebar, after Don moved to Madelia I saw him maybe two or three more times, ever, and I last talked to him on the phone in 1997. I cannot find him through social media or anything else. If you run into a blond guy named Don Pelto with a higher voice than most, let him know I miss him terribly.

    1. I distinctly remember testing to see if the game would save the courses. While at the time, we had no games that could save anything (we didn’t yet have Zelda), we were hopeful, probably because we had a computer games that could save your progress.

      My best friend from elementary school I haven’t seen since we were 13. I finally found him on Facebook; looks like he just joined this year. So I messaged him and got no response. Sad.

    2. Yeah, I’m with Spooky in that I don’t recall being at all bummed by the lack of saving. Man was this game a big part of my younger video gaming days.

      I also remember the N64 version being pretty much great as well, but I don’t remember the create a level being nearly as fun.

  2. This is one of the earliest game memories I have besides Super Mario Bros. I remember walking down the apartment hallway and playing this game for hours with a friend of mine. We would create our own insanely difficult tracks that you could never get a good top speed going through. This is about the same time I listened to my first compact disc (Whitesnake).

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