Excitebike: World Rally is fun but essentially non-existent

Only on WiiWare

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Looking back, Excitebike would have benefited from being released a couple years later. Originally on Famicom in 1984, it was still stuck in the arcade mindset. It was very strictly round-based, there was no real progression, and the best you could do was compete for best time, which wasn’t actually recorded on the game itself.

The most console-specific feature that it had was a track builder, which was definitely cool. However, on NES, you couldn’t actually save your track, which was far less cool. If you were on Famicom, you could actually save tracks using the Famicom Data Recorder, which would save your data to a cassette tape. That’s extremely cool to a retro geek like me. I mean, the Famicom was marketed as being a family-friendly microcomputer (Famicom being shorthand for Family Computer), but because the NES tried to get away from that, we never saw it over here. It’s neat to be reminded that, through their own game design, they basically made a bunch of their own products obsolete.

What were we talking about? Right. Excitebike really needed some form of progression. It would take until 2009 until someone went back and actually did that with Excitebike: World Rally.

Excitebike: World Rally
Screenshot by Destructoid

Doot-doot-doot doo-doo-doo!

Excitebike: World Rally is like a really belated sequel to the first game. It essentially is just Excitebike, featuring all the same mechanics and features as the NES title, but turned 3D. More importantly, however, there’s actually progression.

Yes, there is a series of four “cups” that progress in difficulty. In order to progress, you have to hit a B rank in each of the individual courses. This is done by finishing the course in a specific time threshold. Of course, you can also push yourself to get S rank by getting even better times. Doing so on every course in a cup will unlock a new color for your bike.

Better yet, there’s more than one track background. It’s not much, but it’s something. Unfortunately, whenever there are stands in the background, the audience all look like emoji people. I mean, this was the Wii. Miis were a thing, but instead of using that style, we have the ugliest crowd possibly in existence.

Excitebike: World Rally
Screenshot by Destructoid

Souls contain CFC

If you’re unfamiliar with Excitebike, it’s essentially a side-scrolling dirtbike game. You ride your two-wheeled friend, and it’s your goal to ramp over hills and land as gracefully as possible. You can also boost, but that builds up heat and can blow out your engine. The strategy there is to push your engine as much as possible without crashing or blowing up.

There are other riders on the course, but they’re not your concern. You really just need to make it to the finish line in a fast enough time.

Your opponents are essentially just there to get in your way. This is mainly a problem when going between obstacles on the track. However, you can take them out by cutting them off or landing directly on top of them. It can be dangerous, but murdering your fellow riders will instantly cool off your engine. You see, the sheer anguish of their soul being ripped from their body acts somewhat like a refrigerant, immediately dropping the temperature of nearby internal combustion engines. The soul is subjected to excruciating torment, but that’s what they get for being slow.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Thanks Nintendo

The track builder makes a comeback, and you can even share them on… Oh, right. The “Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection” service was taken offline in 2014.

It’s kind of a bummer. It’s not that I expect the online was ever popping for Excitebike: World Rally, but there’s no offline multiplayer. The best you can do is build tracks and compete for the best time on them. Sort of like, well, the NES version.

There were also some bike skins that are locked behind online play, and that drives me absolutely insane. It’s not even that WFC has been down for almost a decade, it’s the fact that I don’t even want to play online in the first place. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but humans are awful. I try to limit my interaction with them as much as possible. Just let me have my bike colors and leave me in peace.

Excitebike: World Rally
Screenshot by Destructoid

The moral of the story

I think the elephant in the room here is Vs. Excitebike. This was a 1988 follow-up to Excitebike released exclusively on the Famicom Disk System. Not only did this have progression in much the same way that Excitebike: World Rally does, but it also had bonus levels that had you jumping over trucks.

Furthermore, it had a two-player mode, that actually put both riders on the same track to compete directly. I’m honestly not sure why Excitebike: World Rally doesn’t support splitscreen. It would have certainly been helpful after online support went down.

For that matter, you can’t even buy Excitebike: World Rally anymore because it was a WiiWare exclusive. Nintendo isn’t the worst company when it comes to preserving their back catalogue, but they leave a lot to be desired. It would have been the perfect fit for the 3DS, but even if they did port it, the 3DS eShop has been taken offline. This is why Santa doesn’t bring Nintendo any shit for Christmas.

You know what you can still play? Vs. Excitebike. I don’t even mean by purchasing a Famicom Disk System and the physical game. It’s on Nintendo’s Switch Online NES app. In North America. Were you aware of that? Did you know about the difference? I know that this article was about Excitebike: World Rally, but the moral of the story is really to go play Vs. Excitebike.

With that out of the way, now Nintendo should port Excitebike: BunBun Mario Battle Stadium.

For other retro titles you may have missed, click right here!

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Zoey Handley
Staff Writer - Zoey is a gaming gadabout. She got her start blogging with the community in 2018 and hit the front page soon after. Normally found exploring indie experiments and retro libraries, she does her best to remain chronically uncool.