Wii

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Excitebots: Trick Racing

by Nick DiMola - April 28, 2009, 8:05 pm PDT
Total comments: 11

9

With new vehicles, a slew of new functions, and the same exhilarating racing, Excite Truck's successor comes in with a bang.

Before the Wii was released in North America, the first game I had the pleasure of experiencing was the glorious Excite Truck. Love at first sight, I hastily picked up the game when it became available at the Wii launch alongside Twilight Princess. Though Zelda ate up a significant amount of my time, I undoubtedly invested far more into Nintendo's launch racer.

When Excitebots: Trick Racing was announced, I knew that I had to review the game—that is, until I saw its premise and started to have second thoughts. Bots, bars, sports, and pie faces seemed like an odd conglomeration of things to toss into a racing game, especially Excite Truck. Despite my inhibitions I gave the game a shot; it turns out that Monster Games and Nintendo were definitely onto something.

Though at first glance Excitebots looks very different, at its core it still offers the solid high-speed, big-airtime racing of Excite Truck, complete with the star-based ranking system in which coming in first does not always guarantee a win (only 50 bonus stars). As with Excite Truck, players need to get big air, do tree runs, perform mid-air spins, smash trucks, and pull off big drifts to win and, with practice, earn an "S" ranking. Excitebots has built on this core formula and added a number of new key features that set the game apart from its predecessor.

As the subtitle suggests, Excitebots is all about trick racing. As players traverse any given course, they will be presented with a slew of opportunities to perform tricks. These are done in a number of different ways. Each level now features a mandatory Red Bar which your bot must spin around a number of times in order to move on. For rhythmically performing a cranking motion with the Wii Remote, players are awarded up to ten stars and a potential boost for a perfect performance. Similar player interaction is necessary in order to complete the other tricks in the game,

Players will also have the option of performing tricks on Yellow Bars and springy Flip Bars (both optional), which offer up to five stars each and a potential boost for good performance. Bad performance on the yellow bar is punished by sending your bot spinning through the air towards an imminent crash, unless you can luckily stabilize your bot and recover, for which you are awarded with one star. Other challenges players will have the option of tacking include hitting a soccer ball into a net (5 stars), kicking a field goal (5 stars), knocking down a set of bowling pins (up to 10 stars), throwing a dart (up to 5 stars), throwing a pie in a clown's face (up to 5 stars), hitting a homerun (up to 5 stars), and fishing (up to 5 stars). All of these challenges occur mid-race and require player action while still driving through the track. For instance, hitting one of the question marks (which only modified the terrain in Excite Truck) might set up bowling pins or a soccer ball to drive into.

Also new to the game is the weapon system, which players can use to both obtain stars and defeat opponents. Things like hammers, bombs, and chompers attack enemies, causing them to slow down or be sent shooting into the air. The rocket and tambourine give players a speed advantage: the rocket does so automatically, while the tambourine requires a rhythm mini-game for up to 5 stars and a boost.

The game's crazy challenges, combined with the new weapon system, make for a truly hectic, yet enjoyable racing experience. The branching paths featured in Excite Truck have also returned and are now even more important, as each path holds different challenges.

Though Excitebots brings a lot of positive things to the table, there are a couple of detractors. For one, the game is quite easy. Where Excite Truck makes you work to earn the stars necessary to achieve an "S" ranking on a given track, Excitebots makes earning one quite easy due to the plethora of challenges and bars scattered throughout the tracks. Excitebots also skimps on new levels. Players familiar with Excite Truck will quickly notice that almost half of the twenty-five levels have been carried over from the preceding game. Thankfully, the new additions breathe new life into the reprised levels, making them feel at least somewhat different.

The final major complaint I have with the game is the again-horrendous soundtrack. While the terrible "Butt Rock" has been removed, it has been replaced with equally annoying music that is reminiscent of Mario Kart Wii but not nearly of the same caliber. Even worse, players can no longer listen to their own music off of an SD card, as they could in Excite Truck.

Fortunately, the Excitebots-exclusive online mode easily makes up for these detractors, extending the game's life enormously. Players can match up against up to five other competitors in either a normal race or a poker race, a new race type that allows players to drive into cards to complete a poker hand and earn stars. In either race type, as in single player mode, players strive to obtain the most stars within the race in order to win. Excitebots spices up this simple equation by allowing players to bet a number of stars on their performance prior to each race. In a six-person race, coming in the top two spots quadruples or doubles the number of stars bet, while third is a push, and lower will result in losing all bet stars. Players uninterested in online play will be disappointed to know that local multiplayer is still limited to one-on-one face-offs in vertical split-screen matches.

Overall, Excitebots: Trick Racing is a fantastic game. While it hasn't perfected what Excite Truck started, it offers a fresh experience that is unlike anything before. Even fans of Excite Truck will be thrown for a loop when they take on the virtual high-speed obstacle course that is Excitebots. Fans of light-hearted arcade racing would do well to take Excitebots out for a spin.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7 4 9.5 9 9 9
Graphics
7

While Excitebots doesn't look great when you are at a standstill, in motion the game's colorful palette provides an appealing backdrop to race against. Unfortunately, the graphics engine seems completely unchanged from its launch title predecessor.

Sound
4

The absence of a custom soundtrack is a major letdown, given the precedent set by Excite Truck. While the 80s generic metal has been replaced by more Nintendo-like music, the soundtrack is still obnoxious, except this time it's mandatory.

Control
9.5

The excellent Excite Truck controls have been tightened up for Excitebots and now only cause issues at the peak of a jump when you are trying to make a sharp turn. Additionally, Mario Kart Wii's controls are mimicked, allowing players to also use the Wii Wheel.

Gameplay
9

The core concepts introduced by Excite Truck, including the big air-focused racing, have returned, which is fantastic. In addition, Excitebots has added a slew of new challenges to accomplish in the middle of the race, transforming the game into something that feels fresh. Even those thoroughly familiar with Excite Truck won't feel they are treading the same ground.

Lastability
9

With all of the modes from Excite Truck plus the incredibly smooth online multiplayer, players will be able to enjoy Excitebots long after the single player material has been completely conquered. With numerous stars acquired in the online mode, you can buy trophies, collectibles, and new bots, constantly giving players something to work towards.

Final
9

Excitebots: Trick Racing is more of a re-imagination of Excite Truck rather than a sequel. Offering many of the same tracks and core mechanics, Excitebots takes all of the good gameplay from Excite Truck and mixes in a concoction of new ideas, producing a very unique and unforgettable game that nearly anyone can appreciate.

Summary

Pros
  • Robust, smooth online mode
  • The same exhilarating racing that made Excite Truck a fan favorite
  • Unique and zany experience that is unlike any other
Cons
  • A bit on the easy side
  • Absence of custom soundtrack
  • No WiiSpeak support
  • Recycled Excite Truck tracks
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

GoldenPhoenixApril 29, 2009

Maybe it has been too long since I played ExciteTruck but ExciteBots seems to add way more scenary and seems visually smoother overall when it comes to textures. Then again you've played ExciteTruck MUCH more then me! Regardless excellent score and I agree with it 100%

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusApril 29, 2009

I'd personally give the sound a 5 or a 6.

GoldenPhoenixApril 29, 2009

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

I'd personally give the sound a 5 or a 6.

I probably would too, it really didn't bother me, it was there, nothing memorable nor anything grating.

AVApril 29, 2009

recycled levels is very disappointing. i understand similar game engine but why similar levels ? They had what 2 years to make this game ?

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusApril 29, 2009

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

I'd personally give the sound a 5 or a 6.

I probably would too, it really didn't bother me, it was there, nothing memorable nor anything grating.

I like the music for the China levels, it screams madness, randomness and most importantly......EEEEEXXXXXCCCCCCCIIIIIIIITTTTTTTEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

I don't know if I'd say the levels are recycled.  Excite Truck had multiple tracks set within a small number of environment themes.  Excitebots has more (new) tracks set in some of those same environments, plus several new environments with multiple tracks in each.  So it's no more recycled than, for instance, Mario Kart Wii having a track in a snow environment or through Bowser's castle.  The tracks are still new.

DAaaMan64April 29, 2009

Looks like I'll rent this. Sorry has no monies.

Mop it upApril 29, 2009

Just when I thought I talked myself out of wanting this game...

It's kind of disappointing that the game might as well have no local multiplayer, but it would still be worth it for what seems like a robust online mode. Only three days until the NWR Wi-Fi night though... don't think I'd make that.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 29, 2009

Unfortunately, it's not just the locales that are recycled a large number of actual tracks are identical to ones featured in Excite Truck. I recognized them immediately when I was playing and even popped Excite Truck back in to verify. If I get unlazy I'll go through and make a comprehensive list, but there are definitely quite a few of them.

GoldenPhoenixApril 29, 2009

Quote from: Mr.

Unfortunately, it's not just the locales that are recycled a large number of actual tracks are identical to ones featured in Excite Truck. I recognized them immediately when I was playing and even popped Excite Truck back in to verify. If I get unlazy I'll go through and make a comprehensive list, but there are definitely quite a few of them.

Yeah even though I didn't play ExciteTruck nearly as much as you I noticed that. But really with the new stuff it wasn't that big of a deal. The game is still fantastic.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 29, 2009

Yeah, I felt very much the same way. The Excitebots specific additions make the old levels feel new, so it wasn't a huge deal, but I still would've preferred some new stuff.

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Excitebots: Trick Racing Box Art

Genre Racing
Developer Monster Games
Players1 - 4
Online1 - 6

Worldwide Releases

na: Excitebots: Trick Racing
Release Apr 20, 2009
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
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