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Excitebike 64


excitebike 64          Excitebike-64-2.jpg (6678 bytes)

Excitebike 64 (E64) fills the motocross void for N64 owners with great graphics, some challenging fun, and lots of stunts.

E64 is like going to a buffet dinner. There are loads of different options to choose from. There are three racing options: time trail, season and exhibition. Time trial is the straightforward "beat the clock." Race information can be saved via the Data Pak, which allows people to race against "ghosts" of their previous times. Season lets players race in three rounds (Bronze, Silver, Gold) of six races each. In exhibition mode, players can choose specific tracks to race, as long as the track has been unlocked.


Tracks remain locked until lower level seasons have been completed with an overall first place finish. Silver tracks wonít be an option until the player finished first overall in the Bronze season, and so on. The Special Tracks unlock when specific goals have been achieved. The original Excitebike is part of the Special Tracks and unlocks when the tutorial option has been completed. Other Special Tracks include soccer, stunt arena, hill climb and desert. The desert track is the most impressive. Players are tasked with locating 10 gates, in the form of fire pits, racing against human or AI opponents, across a huge expanse of desert dunes and flats. The terrain is randomly generated, as are the locations of the gates so replay is unlimited. This is the most fun multiplayer option. Four-player action is handled via the typical four-screen division and two-player mode is splitscreen.





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Season tracks are well designed, but if players think they can do better there is a track editor included. (The Controller Pak is necessary to save the track.) Most of the tracks are indoors with only a couple located outside for each season. The indoor tracks are more twisty-turny than the outdoor tracks, but this lends to the feel that youíre actually racing in a stadium. The outdoor tracks allow for more creative challenges, short cuts, and big air. The big air is needed to perform the stunts.


There are eight basic stunts and one specialty for each driver. The Fender Kiss, No Hander and Nothing are just three. The stunts are fairly easy to execute with simple combinations of a couple of buttons and the analog stick. Each move is documented in the manual and is explained in the tutorial section. Control is responsive; especially the way the "slide" has been implemented. Each rider handles differently based on their attributes in four areas: landing, jumping, cornering and turbo. Some are heavily weighted in one area, while other areas suffer. Depending on the approach of the player, there is a driver to fit their needs. Try racing a few tracks then switch drivers and the difference is very noticeable. This adds to the replay value. The physics model is a good balance between "real" and "arcade" physics. The standard button configuration is easy to use but there is the option to reconfigure the controls.

Graphics are excellent. "Fogging" and pop-up effects are minimized by the very nature of the tracks. Outside tracks are bright and colourful. The indoor tracks are lit diffusely, giving them a dark look, which is fairly accurate to real-life motocross stadium events. The colour of the bikes and uniforms of each driver can be changed. Itís a nice touch. There are three different camera angles to choose from, all in 3rd person. The camera can be shifted to front facing (with a press of the „ Ŕ ) but this makes driving difficult since the road ahead canít be seen, though itís a good option when a stunt is being performed. To highlight the stunts, a window pops-up in the top left of the screen showing a sideview of the action. The game screen is good. Clutter is kept to a minimum, with only the bare information displayed. Map information, speed, engine heat, and lap times are displayed by default but each can be turned off.  (Engine temperature, just like in the original Excitebike, is key to gaining speed quickly and winning races.) The animations are convincing for the most part. Crashes can be spectacular! All this can be played back using the "replay" option, which replays the entire race using camera angles to follow the action. This is a good tool to see exactly where things went wrong.

Music and sound get high marks. There is enough variation in the music to avoid repetition and the high-pitch whine of the bikes is perfect. The announcer becomes tiresome after a while, repeating himself quite often. The announcer does update the positions of the racers so itís known which racer is in the lead. Some of the one liners are fun to hear a few times, but overall, the announcer should have been given more to say. There are three sound effect levels that can be adjusted via slidebars: SFX, music and announcer. This allows the announcer to be squelched.

The bottom line is that Excitebike 64 is fun to play. The graphics are good, the gameplay fun, the multiplayer features great, the challenge solid, and arcade physics model forgiving. Bonus points awarded to LeftField Productions for including the original Excitebike.

- Omni

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