Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Excite Truck (Wii) Review

Excite Truck was and still is an under-appreciated gem in the Wii's launch lineup. Almost three years later, we have an interesting twist on the game with Excitebots: Trick Racing which has released today, replacing monster trucks for Beast Wars-inspired vehicles. To commemorate the occasion, here's a review of the first Wii Excite game with Excite Truck!

CAUTION: Exciting Times Ahead

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I purchased a Wii at launch somehow easily and with it I got a total of six games with it. One of my favorites from the bunch is the exciting racer, Excite Truck. Excite Truck pits you against five other off-roaders as you thrash your way across various terrain to the finish line.

You hold the Wii remote sideways like an NES controller. Tilting the remote to the left veers your roader to the left. Conversely tilting it to the right sure enough makes your truck drive to the right. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but a half hour of gameplay later you'll have it. Holding down the control pad will activate a turbo. When held too long your truck will overheat and greatly slow down. Cool your engine off by driving through water or simply letting the wind cool it down. The 2 button is used for accelerating whereas the 1 button allows you to brake and/or go in reverse. Finally the B button in back, when in the air, allows you to shake the remote and perform mid-air spins-- an advanced technique.

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Players can steer in mid-air to land more precisely.

If the following control explanation seems too overwhelming, don't worry. You are required to participate in the training tutorials which may or may not annoy those who would rather jump into races and cups themselves. However, once you complete the first set of the tutorial you'll unlock the Excite Race (each series of races is four or five tracks long) and Challenge (consisting of gate challenge, ring challenge, and crush challenge) modes.

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The graphics aren't too shabby either.

Excite Race is the main mode of Excite Truck. You start off by selecting one of three trucks each with different attributes (there's a plethora of unlockable trucks and color alternatives to be had as well). Then you choose a race. You'll begin racing in the rocky recesses and canyons of Mexico to flying high in the low-gravity expanses of space! Not only will have to worry about your five other rivals to get to the goal first, but you'll also want to score stars while driving around the various rugged racetracks' terrains. How do you do this, you ask? By performing stunts, tricks, and objectives. You'll score stars by doing any one of the following feats-- scoring big air after a large jump (Air), sliding your vehicle around a turn (Drift), edging dangerously close through patches of trees (Tree Run), spinning your ride in mid-air (Air Spin), manipulating the terrain to toss your rivals (Truck Throw), making consecutive jumps (Jump Combo), colliding with another truck (Truck Smash), wiping out and crashing (Nice Crash), and passing through mid-air rings (Rings). The longer you do a task or the more you do, the more stars you'll earn. Obviously you can't just sit back earning stars-- you have to speed up to get first place for the maximum star reward. At the end of each race your star total will be calculated and you'll be awarded with a letter grade from S (best) to D (worst). You'll need to get B's on all the cups races to unlock the next series of races, and you'll be required to get S's on all races to unlock alternate paint jobs, new modes, and new trucks.

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Perform tricks to earn stars. The more stars, the merrier.

The races take place in various locales from the dusty deserts of Mexico to flying over the Great Wall of China to driving along the rolling hills of Scotland. Your racing will take you all around the globe. During races you'll come across exclamation point icons which when you pass over them will alter the terrain of the track right before your eyes. This is where the Truck Throw task comes in. What was once an uphill climb is now a valley with a pond in the middle to splash and blast past.

Aesthetically, Excite Truck is quite nice to look at. The terrain changes are a very nice touch to the gameplay. Musically you'll hear a lot of Japanese butt rock that's sometimes a headache to listen to, but other times it-- actually it's pretty annoying. Also, getting all S ranks just to unlock a harder mode that forces you to get all S ranks followed by another unlocked mode that makes you get S ranks on the races you just got S's on but only mirrored versions is an annoyance and is artificially lengthening the gameplay experience in this reviewer's opinion. Lastly versus mode is only 2-player splitscreen without any computer-controlled opponents to be found. Rather lame indeed.

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Hm... I think that was the nickname of his ex-girlfriend.

Overall, Excite Truck is a very entertaining, exciting (sorry to use that word), adrenaline-pumping game. Sure, sometimes managing tricks while trying to stay in first place can be a little frustrating, but the effort usually pays off. Anyone with a Wii and enjoys the occasional racer will simply fall in love with this game. I know I did.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]
- Simply put, exciting.


Anonymous said...

This was the first Wii game I ever played. I got to go hands on with the title at the 2006 Nintendo Fusion Tour, like 6 months before the Wii even came out. That was exciting for me.

I'm going through and reviewing my back-log of wii games, too. I'll link to your reviews as a second opinion.

-Zac Pritcher

Val said...

I have ALWAYS wanted this game! It looks so wild and advanced. Dang I'd get it now if my Wii wasn't being an idiot.