Video Game Thoughts: Excitebike

Excitebike was a 1984 racing game by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This was a really fun if simple game. I first played it when we rented the NES from the video rental store. My mom wouldn’t let us have a video game console at home then, but she would let us rent it sometimes. These were always fun times.

Excitebike was unique because it wasn’t stock car racing or formula racing. Most of the games at this time focused on those more popular racing sports. Excitebike, instead, focused on motorbikes. The graphics were really simple in these days, so they couldn’t create complicated dirt tracks. Consequently, the tracks all looked like an Olympic oval track with straight-edged concrete jumps. There were obstacles in the form of water, oil spills, and other bikers.

There were no 3D graphics, so the perspective couldn’t change. The player always saw the same side view of their bike regardless of where they were at in the race. This was very different from other racing games that all showed the perspective from behind the vehicle.

Excitebike was a really hard game to beat. This was par for the course at this time. Games were pretty expensive to make and didn’t have a lot of gameplay, so the developers would purposely make them really difficult to force people to play them longer. If the game had the normal difficulty that modern games have, any player would be finished with all the tracks in just a few hours. In Excitebike, the player had to get first place to continue to the next stage. If they failed to win a race, there were no continues. The player had to start all over from the first level. I don’t know how many levels there were but probably not more than twenty.

Despite the primitive technology of this old game, it was tons of fun during it’s time. The NES was a pretty new console. There weren’t many racing games on it to compare. Later racing games did become better, but Excitebike was still pretty fun.

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