|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Monster Games, Inc.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 9, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Regardless of which control option you choose, there is a bit of Wii waggle tossed in for good measure. If you crash or overheat, you'll have to shake the remote rapidly in order to get going again. It's one of those take-it-or-leave-it-type things, but it works fine without being painful or annoying.
In addition to the single-player portion, players can jump online for a bit of competitive action. You can choose to either play anyone in random races, or hook up with friends using the infamous Friend Code system. We were pleasantly surprised by the online multiplayer for Excitebike, as it has two huge things going for it: the gameplay is lag-free, and within just the first few hours of the game's release, there were tons of players eager to connect. Our very first race took only a few seconds to get going. Matches are for up to four players, and though the lobby system is super basic, it works without a hitch. It's obvious from all of the online traffic that fans were eager to get a new Excitebike game, but the lack of a leaderboard might leave some folks without incentive to keep coming back.
Lastly, there's a track editor to allow players to create their own devious courses. It's a very simple toolset, but it's also very easy to use. Each of the track assets from the main game are included in the editor, though unfortunately, you can't change the background for custom tracks. You can, however, share your tracks with friends, which should extend the life of the game significantly for some folks.
In terms of unlockables, World Rally comes up somewhat short, merely offering a selection of new colors and skins for your bike. Nabbing these extras is no small feat, either, as you'll be required to get S ranks in races in order to get at most of what's hidden. You do, however, earn points for playing online, and there are a handful of skins you can unlock just by competing against others in multiplayer.
Local multiplayer is conspicuously absent, which is, of course, disappointing and somewhat counter to Nintendo's mission of bringing gamers together in one room. At 1000 Wii Points, stacked, split-screen multiplayer was absolutely expected.
In terms of presentation, World Rally is a pretty bare-bones affair. Visually, it looks like an early Gamecube game, though the water effects are often quite lovely. Flames and turbo effects add a bit of flare (no pun intended), and the bikes are admittedly adorable. More importantly, however, the framerate is fast and consistent. This holds true when playing online as well, and most folks will be likely be too focused on races to care much about the extras. Moving from pixels to true 3D comes with additional benefits aside from merely looking better. The handling of your bike is much more precise, making control more involving and interesting than the original game.
The music is as frugal as the game's visuals, but again, everything's wrapped up nice and tight. Playful tunes sit well in the background, and the sound effects - though sparse and almost lo-fi - add another fun element to the experience.
Excitebike: World Rally isn't a revolution for the series; heck, it isn't even an evolution, really. However, over 20 years later, the gameplay holds up incredibly well and fits the WiiWare platform like a glove. The lack of local multiplayer is truly a drag, and for the price, the unlockables don't do much to strengthen the value. That being said, Excitebike has a lot of personality, and it's certainly a game worthy of a new lease on life.
CCC Freelance Writer