Get Excited Like It's 1984.
Bikes. Death machines for some, a ride to freedom for others. The Excitebike series originated in 1984 where it appeared in arcades and later on the Famicom game console. Since then, there was a lengthy delay between the first Excitebike and its spiritual successors, Excite Truck and Excitebots: Trick Racing. Both of which were fantastic games on their own. But now Nintendo has decided to go back to basics with the Excitebike series-- back to its revving roots with Excitebike: World Rally for Wiiware. Is this one ride you'll want to hop up on?
The solo single-player mode in the revamped Excitebike is the World Tour. This has you playing four cups with four races each. These range from Mexico, Canada, and Fiji to London, New York, and Paris. The one thing Excite Truck and Excitebots veterans will notice is that many of the backgrounds are taken directly from those two games. By achieving S ranks in the various cups, you'll be rewarded new color skins for your bike. A whole assortment of the rainbow is available by the end of the game. You get S ranks by beating a certain time on each track. However, all you need to pass a certain course is a B rank. There are other racers on the track racing with you, but they're not your opponent. Sure, they can get in your way and make you crash, but your real opponent is the clock. As stated before, achieving a given time will allow you access to the next course or cup.
Each track is a linear affair as per usual with the Excitebike-style games. You're constantly going forward, competing laps as you leap off hills, ramps, and even other racers' heads as you dodge patches of dirt that will slow you down, stretches of grass, and concrete barriers that can either be avoided, hopped over via a wheelie, or crashed into. Your pick. Each race last two laps, and I found that shorter races were more difficult as you have to run them to near perfection in order to obtain those coveted S ranks.
This time around players are given the choice between classic and default (or motion) controls. Either way works well, but old-school gamers will most likely want to stick to classic. Regardless, with enough practice you'll be wheelie-ing off ramps to jump off them for increased distance, landing with your wheels parallel to the ground for increased speed, and moving through the four available lanes in order to dodge hazards, obstacles, and other drivers.
If single-player wears you out after awhile (and it most likely will since it's only sixteen races), you can hop online and race "With Anyone" or "With Friends". Either way, you'll be racing against human opponents with no really severe lag. Opponents will appear as transparent ghosts which for some reason or another will change from ghosts to opponents that you can crash into. No rhyme, no reason. It's just there. Anyway, the "With Anyone" and "With Friends" options give you different types of points that can be earned to purchase new skins for your bike. The biggest disappointment in this, however, is that there is no local split-screen multi-player. It's seems the proverbial ball was dropped. Apparently Monster Games is following the "next-gen" HD rule where online reigns supreme and local multi-player can lie in a gutter somewhere.
Additionally, there's a track creator option in World Rally. Unlike the first Excitebike, you can actually save your hours of work honing and fine-tuning each of your up-to-eight tracks. The building process is rather archaic as you must select a place to build and then cycle through a list of letters, each representing a track part. Couldn't there have been an easier way to make tracks? When you're finished, you can take your track on yourself or share them with friends. Not a bad feature, but the whole thing could be better.
From an aesthetic standpoint, Excitebike: World Rally perfectly takes the 2-D style of the original Excitebike and puts into a suitable 3-D realm. The game is color, the models are nice to look at, and the backgrounds are quite impressive. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is mostly there with retro-sounding guitars and music. It's pleasant, it's not grating, but most of it is unmemorable.
Overall, for 1000 Wii points (ten dollars) Excitebike: World Rally is a very capable racer on Wiiware. Those looking to play with nearby friends will be in for a disappointment with the lack of local multi-player, something that seemed perfect and a shoo-in for this type of game. Regardless, online will fill part of the void, and the single-player World Tour mode will last you a few sittings at the very least. For racing excitement, Excitebike: World Rally is a definite winner.
[SuperPhillip Says: 7.75/10]