Out of the handful of Classic NES games released last week, Excitebike is probably the most obvious one not to recommend. The reason is simple. It's just a motocross racing game. Virtually every motocross game released for the GBA in the last three years is better than this one.

Only fans of the original Excitebike will get a rush out of this game, although it's expected to be short-lived. The game is much too primitive for today's sophisticated gamer despite the inclusion of a track editor. Yes, Excitebike was one of the first NES racing games to include a track editor. While you may feel nostalgic about Excitebike I can almost guarantee it won't live up to your expectations. Whether you want to admit it or not, your tastes have been changed by many of the excellent games that have been developed over the past few years. Someone once said, "You can't go back home," and that's just as true with games.

The four-lane track is scattered with various jumps, bumps, pitfalls and other obstacles. Everything is intended to stop you or at least slow you down. When taking a jump you have to make sure you land properly. You'll maintain your speed if you land with both tires simultaneously.

Controls couldn't be simpler. Steer and accelerate. The A button will get you moving but the B button will get you moving faster, but there's a downside. The longer you hold on to the B button the more heat your bike will generate. There's a gauge that indicates temperature. If you push it to the limit you'll have to stop and let your bike cool down. The use of the B button is best used sparingly and strategically.

You can race alone or with three other AI-controlled bikes. You don't actually race against the other bikes, you race against the clock. For each race you'll have to beat any of the top three scores to stay in the game.

In the GBA version of Excitebike you can store one edited track. Place the ramps and pits anywhere you like and save it to the cartridge. This is the only notable improvement over the North American NES game. The Japanese NES version allowed you to save an edited track.

The graphics are simple geometry but they can be overlooked. You can see clearly enough what to aim for and what to avoid. I really missed the lack of a 3D engine in a game such as this. The controls are good but overall the game doesn't provide enough of a challenge even as it increases in difficulty. The old sounds are back including the buzzy whine of the engine.

I found the gameplay to a lot of fun but not for any extended period. Not even a multi-player mode would get this game a recommendation. If you could try it out at Blockbuster you probably wouldn't even rent it because it's all too obvious the fun is finite - just like this review.

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System: GBA
Dev: Nintendo
Pub: Nintendo
Release: June 2004
Players: 1
Review by Fenix