Originally published on November 30th, 1984 in Japan for the Famicom and then again on October 18th, 1985 for the NES in North America. Excitebike was simply a motocross racing game. It is considered a very classic game with iconic sounds that anyone who has played it can point out. It was a fun little game that was apart of whats now referred to as the Black Label Series.
What is the Black Label Series you may ask… well it happens to be a marketing ploy for Nintendo that I daresay was successful. Each cart has a obvious black label sporting pixel art based on the actual game. The pixel art was done to temper expectations of the players while also conveying something about the game. There were 17 launch titles in North America of which most where in this series to which depending on who you ask another 13 were added to the series. In addition to the art each game had a small series or genre identifier on the game cart/box art as well.
Where does Excitebike come in on the series? Well it was a launch title for the NES here in North America but interestingly enough it wasn’t given the sports genre identifier but rather the programmable series tag. And it happens to be only 1 of 3 of that tag the other 2 being Mach Rider (another bike racer) and Wrecking Crew. Why was it considered programmable though? Well this game had 3 separate game modes.
The first 2 were racing modes with the first being a time trial mode where you race alone (you can see this in both mini videos accompanying this post). The second mode is a regular race mode where you compete against other racers. However they can knock you off your bike from behind and at least you can do so as well, which is oddly satisfying.
Mode 3 is where the game got its programmable tag from, which was the design mode. It allowed you to create a track for you or a friend to play on giving you obstacles marked by letters A-S and you could chose to make it up to a max 9 laps. After the track was completed you could select it for game mode 1 or 2 (which are called selection A or B respectively). However because of the limitations of the system at the time the track wasn’t able to be saved so you had to make them and play them prior to turning them off.
To play the game you simply raced using either the A button or the B button to accelerate. The A button was less powerful than the B one but it didn’t cause your bike to overheat as quickly. Overheating was costly which affected your time one of the ways to avoid it was to alternate using B button first and then A, and you could also run over arrows on the ground which took away heat. Pressing the up or down buttons altered your path on the race track. This game was neat for the fact you could pitch your bike using left or right which allowed not only spins in the air but wheelies on the ground if you wanted to be a show off.
Of course my criticism of this game has been what a lot of people will have said prior there is no multiplayer for this game at least not for the NES version. Fortunately though the Nintendo Virtual Console version does have multiplayer but it isn’t local. This game can also be found in the GameCube version of Animal Crossing which is a neat addition and is along side some other Black Label Series so either way the game lives on. Excitebike was successful for its time and it unlike some of the other Black Label Series saw a direct sequel but not until the Nintendo 64. It also had a few spiritual successors as well. Over all most NES fans think fondly of this game and I can say I have enjoyed playing it myself.
I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day/Weekend! Sorry for this being late considering everything that’s been going on for me but I didn’t want to cut this post. Of course we are still waiting on 2 podcasts as well for May (both dealing with Star Wars) unfortunately stuff has occurred in our Video Editors world and since he does it for free we just have to wait.
I will be extending the period for the giveaways because of the changes.
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