Excitebike 64 – Definitive 50 N64 Game #33
The list so far: The Definitive 50 N64 Games
Left Field Productions worked on a variety of sports titles for Nintendo systems in the late 90s and early 2000s, and Nintendo briefly bought a piece of the company in 1998, before selling it back in 2002.
The companies’ collaborative efforts are probably best remembered for Excitebike 64, which brought the famous Excitebike NES game into the polygonal era.
Excitebike 64 is a highly technical motocross game that demands players embrace the culture of 90s era EXXXTREME sports, and live it digitally. The game’s unforgiving physics and controls require some getting used to, but mastery will have you deserving your very own No Fear jacket.
You need to maintain constant awareness of impending turns, encroaching opponents, and your own bike’s engine temperature. Then, in the midst of the game’s numerous jumps – over every manner of hill and muddy slope, you’ve got to carefully lean back for extra air, or turn downward to catch the next slope at the right angle so you don’t lose precious speed and start falling behind. It’s a great mechanic, and one straight from the original Excitebike.
The game boasts an impressive 20 tracks, playable across three difficulties in Season Mode.
There are also several special tracks available – two to start, and more can be unlocked as you work through Season Mode. These include Desert, Stunt Course, Soccer, Original Excitebike, and Excitebike 3D, a classically themed Excitebike course, built and played in Excitebike 64 style.
The Desert track is a special, randomly generated, and wide open course in which you compete to reach a series of 10 camp fires that act as markers.
Stunt Course provides the open space and big jumps necessary to pull off all of the game’s best moves, although tricks can be performed throughout the game. Of course, points are also awarded and tallied. Tricks are performed by combining the down C and R buttons with various control stick movements. As with the rest of the game, these are technically demanding to pull off, but nailing them, and getting good, is all the more satisfying for it.
And yes – I did say Soccer. Two to four players can face off on their bikes to shove a giant soccer ball around a field and try to score on oversized nets.
Excitebike also includes a track editor, so you can build your own courses of devilish jumps and villainous turns.
The Excitebike franchise lay dormant for another generation with the GameCube, unless you count its presence in Animal Crossing or the NES Classic on GBA. The series, or at least its name, was again reborn on the Wii with ExciteTruck and ExciteBots.
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Check back next week for entry #32 on the Definitive 50 N64 games.