Excitebike: World Rally Micro-Review: Race Back To 1985

The NES motocross classic gets updated for a trip across the WiiWare finish line.

Nostalgia-craving gamers who couldn't quite embrace Wii-fangled updates Excite Truck and Excitebots: Trick Racing will pop a wheelie over this decidedly old school-flavoured entry.

Loved Ah, the Memories...: Make no mistake, this is Excitebike as you remember it from back in the day. Okay, so you're no longer tethered to a gamepad, and the visuals are more 64-bit than 8-bit, but by and large the gameplay and presentation will warp you to an era when Back to the Future dominated the silver screen and Madonna's Like a Virgin blared from boom boxes. Racing against the clock, you'll side-scroll your dirt bike over hills, ramps, and passed computer-navigated competitors. Additionally, rough patches will slow you down, while passing over power-strip arrows will keep you from overheating. Super simple bike controls boil down to switching lanes, accelerating, and turbo-boosting. And a selection of increasingly challenging tracks test your reflexes as you time jumps, stick landings, and avoid obstacles. It's fast, addictive, arcadey fun that's a total throwback to a time when a D-pad and two buttons was all you needed to have a good time.

A Few New Tricks.: While playing World Rally will almost have you forgetting you're not clutching a NES gamepad, some minor tweaks have improved the classic formula. Wheelies can now be popped with the D-pad (or by tilting the WiiRemote, if you forgo the "classic" scheme), overheating can be remedied faster by shaking the controller, and item pick-ups will suddenly deform the terrain and erect ramps in your path. Even cooler, a satisfying "vroom" rumbles through the WiiRemote when you rev your engine. Additionally, the visual upgrade supports world-spanning tracks that sport small differentiating touches like cacti and red rock outcroppings in Mexico, and blue waters and palm trees in Fiji. Like the original, there's also a track editor, but now novice game designers can share their creations online. World Rally also allows you to race friends or around-the-world competitors through the Wii's Wi-Fi connection-an awesome feature we'd love to see adopted by more Wii titles .

Hated Lone Local Racer: In a baffling decision I can only assume was made while exhaust fumes were being inhaled, the designers didn't include local multi-player. Nothing screams old school gaming like a little couch-side competition, so it's shocking a title that so stubbornly sticks to classic design concepts has omitted this simple feature. As much as the online mode is appreciated, up-to-four-player local play would have actually better complemented Excitebike's pick-up-play appeal.

The NES classic outfitted with a few new bells and whistles is a welcome addition to the WiiWare line-up. It's a shame local split-screen play didn't make the cut, but the addition of online multi-player, and the ability to create and share content makes this one worth at least a few laps around the track.

Excitebike: World Rally was developed by Monster Games and published by Nintendo for WiiWare on November 9. Retails for $US10.00 (1000 Wii Points). A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Completed the game and played online mode.

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