Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Excitebike: World Rally
Nintendo has spruced up its 24-year old classic with the recently released WiiWare exclusive Excitebike: World Rally
- A proper update to the original, online multiplayer and the new track editor are nice touches
- No offline multiplayer, somewhat bland visual presentation
A timeless classic and a legendary remnant from Nintendo's glory days, this NES motocross classic sees new life on the WiiWare service with this revamped racer.
Back in 1985 the best way for gamers to get their motocross-racing fix was by playing Excitebike on their NES. Jumping over obstacles, racing against the clock, and knocking other riders to the ground was flat out fun, as older gamers and Wii owners who've downloaded the title from the Virtual Console are sure to attest.
Thankfully Nintendo has spruced up its 24-year old classic with the recently released WiiWare exclusive Excitebike: World Rally. The charm and engaging gameplay that made its simplistic predecessor so much fun is still intact, and with upgrades aplenty this latest iteration gives the series a much-needed makeover longtime fans are sure to enjoy.
World Rally is a loyal remake of the NES classic and gamers who played the original to death are sure to appreciate how familiar the gameplay is: Guide your motorcycle across a scrolling 4-lane track, avoid obstacles, launch yourself over hills, thump other riders when you can, and get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Controls are basic, with only two buttons and the D-pad needed to guide your bike.
While a devotion to the original is great, an update of a retro game wouldn't be worth squat without a fresh coat of paint, and World Rally delivers. Online multiplayer is a fantastic addition and works seamlessly, allowing gamers to easily jump online with three other players for some quick racing action. Gameplay has also been tweaked, as players can now pop wheelies by tilting the Wiimote (or using the D-pad depending on whether you choose the Classic control option or not) helping your rider land smoother jumps and knocking other bikes behind you out of the way. Mario Kart-style power ups help cool down your engine, allowing you to use your turbo longer, and gamers can even alter track terrain to help launch riders forward. Beefier graphics, subtle but humorous sound effects (tilt the Wiimote to hear your engine rev ala Evel Knievel), and a track editor are also welcome additions.
World Rally is a fun title and has plenty to offer, but its lack of local multiplayer keeps it from being great. I was honestly stunned when I grabbed a second controller and realised I couldn't play with a buddy in the same room -- it just didn't make any sense. Racing games (especially classics like Excitebike) are meant to be played with friends, and while online multiplayer is a nice perk, it just doesn't beat speeding side-by-side with a buddy.
However, if you're a fan of the original Excitebike then chances are you'll certainly enjoy World Rally on the Wii. Its new look and refined gameplay offer a fresh take on a timeless classic, but be prepared to share a controller.
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