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Bikes, Trucks, and Bots - EXCITE!

"In the 1980s, few things were extreme. Maybe traffic in Los Angeles and jalapeno peppers, but that was it. Now that everything and its tattooed dog are Xtreme, Nintendo has rereleased the granddaddy of high-flying, knee-scraping, body-tumbling racing games: Excitebike."
Official Nintendo website on the GBA port of Excitebike

The Excite series is a line of action-focused, dirt-track racing games from Nintendo. Each installment tends to be distinct from the rest in terms of presentation and gameplay, ranging from somewhat realistic to downright insane, and even sometimes trading the traditional bikes for trucks or even transforming mechas.

Despite this, there are common elements found in all of them. Tracks tend to feature obstacles to avoid as well as ramps to jump off of; while in the air, racers can control their vehicle and even perform aerial tricks, and sticking the landing is imperative in order not to crash. Vehicles also always feature a turbo mechanic, which provides a noticeable boost to their speed and jumps, but will cause the engine to overheat if used too often.

The series is comprised of the following games:

  • Excitebike (NES, 1984): A motocross racing game released as a launch title for the NES, where the player raced around an obstacle-ridden dirt stadium, either alone or while avoiding other racers. It established all of the elements that would become staples of the series (turbo management, ramp jumping, etc.), and also offered an expansive design mode that let players create their own courses. As the first and most well-known game in the series, it was ported to numerous other platforms, including on Virtual Console, as part of the Game Boy Advance "NES Classics" line, and as one of the NES games available in Animal Crossing. invoked

    • Vs. Excitebike (Arcade, 1984): An arcade re-release of the original game, which removed the ability for players to design their own tracks, but included three different difficulty levels and a different set of tracks. This version later made its way to the Famicom Disk System in 1988, with the most notable new features being a brand new soundtrack, a two-player versus mode, and the return of the track design mode which now allowed players to save their creations.

    • Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle (Satellaview, 1997): A remake of the first game that was only made available through the Japanese-only Satellaview download service, and released in four subsequent versions (called "Stadiums"). It replaced the generic riders with characters from the Mario series, and added both coins to collect across the track and a new "SUPER" mode granting unlimited boosts.

    • 3D Classics: Excitebike (Nintendo 3DS, 2011): A port of the original game that served as a launch title for the Nintendo eShop, and offered for free to players for a limited period of time. The game had its graphics reworked to fully exploit the 3D capabilities of the console, and also allows the player to save up to 32 custom tracks.

  • Excitebike 64 (Nintendo 64, 2000): The game that marked the series' jump to 3D. Its overall aesthetic was a more "realistic" take than its predecessor, heavily inspired by real-life extreme sports and track racing; in fact, upon release, it was praised for having some of the most realistic physics of its time. It also included multiple extra modes, which involved exploring a fractally generated desert, climbing up a steep hill, playing soccer, and even playing the orignal Excitebike, either in its original form or in full 3D.

  • Excite Truck (Wii, 2006): A launch title for the Nintendo Wii that shifted focus from bikes to trucks, and emphasized the importance of stunts: winning races is based on a scoring system, with points being awarded not only for placing well, but also for performing various actions such as staying in the air as long as possible, drifintg, spinning around, passing through rings, or smashing into other trucks. This game was also on of the few Wii titles that let players import their own MP3 music tracks from an SD card.

  • Excitebots: Trick Racing (Wii, 2009): A direct sequel to Excite Trucks, in which the trucks have been replaced with cute, animal-shaped robots on wheels such a frog, a beetle, or a bat. It reprises the scoring system of its predecessor, put pushes the sheer wackiness of the race to the extreme, with extra points being granted for completing various mini-games along the way: knocking down bowling pins, shooting darts, scoring a soccer goal, rescuing butterflies, and so on. Unfortunately for those living outside of America, it was never released in Europe, and only available in Japan as a Club Nintendo reward. invoked

  • Excitebike: World Rally (WiiWare, 2009): The most recent major title in the series so far, which, despite being developed by the same studio behind Excite Truck and Excitebots, marked a return to the simpler play style and design of the original game, although retaining a few features from the previous two games such as the ranking system and the ability to change terrain. Its most notable feature was the ability to connect to the Internet either to race against other players, or to share and download custom-made tracks.

The WarioWare series features various mini-games based on the original NES game, along with an unlockable "Wario Bike" game in Twisted which mixes the gameplay of Excitebike with that of Super Mario Bros.. The Excitebike racers made a minor appearance as an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, in their original 8-bit form. Excitebike is one of the game represented in NES Remix; as promotion for the latter, an Event Course inspired by Excitebike was added to Super Mario Maker, which unlocks the biker as a costume upon completion. A circuit based on Excitebike was featured as DLC for Mario Kart 8, with the position of ramps and obstacles on the track changing between each race.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Commands: Excitebots features these to earn extra points, like "Press to throw pie in clown's face."
  • Alien Sky: The skies of the Nebula tracks from Excite Truck and Excitebots are filled with a variety of star clusters, and most notably what appears to be multiple moons.
  • All There in the Manual: According to the Official Nintendo Player's Guide for Excitebike, the player's motivation is to take revenge against their old adversary Arch Rivale, who humiliated them in the previous Excitebike World Championship and went as far as to taunt them as he rode over their foot. This is the only mention of any kind of story for any game in the series, let alone the original NES installment, and it's highly debatable whether or not it is actually canon.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Or rather, paint jobs.
    • In Excite Truck, playing 10 races or earning three S-ranks with a certain truck unlocks an alternate paint job for the truck in question.
    • In Excitebots, earning 25 S-ranks with a certain bot unlocks a special paint job for said bot; those can also be purchased for 250,000 stars after having played 15 races with the bot in question.
    • In Excitebike: World Rally, obtaining all S-ranks in a certain cup unlocks new bike colors, while obtaining a certain amount of friend points or anyone points in Wi-fi mode unlocks new bike patterns.
  • Animal Mecha: The Excitebots are all based on animals; most of them are arthropods, with some mammals and herpetofauna mixed in. The only exception is Boulder, the starting vehicle of Excite Truck who returns as the last unlockable bot.
  • Announcer Chatter: Excitebike 64 features an announcer who comments on the position of the racers and the accidents that occur throughout the race.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: Boulder becomes what is essentially an autobot in Excitebots.
  • Astral Finale: The Diamond Cup in Excite Truck and the Crystal Cup in Excitebots, which are the last cup of their respective game, are set in a space-like realm called Nebula.
  • Big Head Mode: Entering the cheat code "BLAHBLAH" in Excitebike 64 gives all the riders big heads. Conversely, entering the cheat code "PINHEAD" gives them all small heads.
  • Breath Weapon: The Guatemala tracks in Excitebots feature giant heads made of stone that breathe fire on the racers.
  • Button Mashing:
    • Mashing A and B back-and-forth in Excitebike after crashing makes the racer run back to his bike faster. Shaking the Wii remote in Excitebike: World Rally serves the same purpose.
    • Mashing the 2 button in Excite Truck or shaking the Wii remote in Excitebots after crashing lets the vehicle get back on the track faster and benefit from a starting boost.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In Excite Truck and Excitebots, records obtained in Excite Mode are listed in green, ones obtained in Super Excite Mode are listed in red, and ones obtained in Mirror Mode are listed in blue.
  • Creator Cameo: Entering the cheat code "UGLYMUGS" in Excitebike 64 displays a photo of the development team on screen during the game's credits sequence.
  • Double Unlock: Used often in Excitebots, of the "now available to buy" variety. Playing 10 races with a bot unlocks a statue of it, and playing 15 races unlocks an exclusive paint job for it, but you still have to spend stars on them. The same holds true for player icons, which are unlocked for purchase by obtaining specific S-ranks, and new bots, made available for purchase by unlocking Super Excite Mode and reaching the lifetime rank requirement.
  • Embedded Precursor: The original NES game is included as an extra mode in Excitebike 64, unlocked after clearing the tutorial.
  • Endless Game: The first Excitebike has no ending; you just keep playing until you reach the impossible challenge of completing Track 5 in 1:06-1:10.
  • The Faceless: Averted in Bun Bun Mario Battle, which features characters from the Mario series as riders, but played straight by Excite Truck, in which you never see whoever is driving the trucks, and World Rally, in which the bikers never take off their helmet. While their faces aren't seen during gameplay, the riders do take off their helmet when making it to the podium of a race in Excitebike, or of a cup in Excitebike 64.
  • Fishing Minigame: One of the various mini-games played while racing in Excitebots involves using a fishing rod near a body of water, and pressing a button at the right time in order to reel in the biggest fish possible.
  • Giant Hands of Doom: One of the obstacles found in Excitebots is a giant hand that rushes towards incoming vehicles and tries to crush them. If one manages to sneak past, they may be rewarded with five stars.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The POW item in Excite Truck and Excitebots makes one's vehicle invincible and lets it plow through obstacles faster.
  • Level Editor:
    • Excitebike had one of the more thorough ones in the 8-bit era that let players design their own racetracks, although the options to save and load previously-created courses were only operable through the Japanese-exclusive Famicom Data Recorder accessory. Vs. Excitebike allowed players to save their creations directly on the disk, and 3D Classics: Excitebike restored the save function in all versions of the game.
    • Excitebike 64 also features a course editor, which is the only one in the series to allow players to add curves in order to create fully three-dimensional tracks.
    • Excitebike: World Rally features a track editor similar to that of the original game, with the added bonus of players being able to share their creations online for others to download.
  • Level in Reverse:
    • In both Excite Truck and Excitebots, getting an S-rank on every course in Super Excite Mode unlocks Mirror Mode, in which every track is flipped left-to-right.
    • Cheat codes allow for two variations of this in Excitebike 64: entering "YADAYADA" causes race tracks to get flipped left-to-right, while entering "WHEEEEEEEE" reverses the Hill Climb mode so that the racer starts at the top of the hill and has to make their way downwards.
  • Market-Based Title: Excitebike: World Rally is known as Excitebike: World Race in Japan and Excitebike: World Challenge in Europe.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: The last unlockable truck in Excite Truck is the Crazy Monster Truck, which stays in POW mode for the entirety of the race, thus making it impossible to be destroyed by trees or other trucks, and able to get a Tree Run bonus even after running into a tree.
  • Mini-Game:
    • Excitebike 64 has a few extra play modes labeled as Special Tracks: "Desert Track" tasks you with extinguishing campfires as you explore a randomly-generated desert, "Stunt Course" rates you as you perform as many tricks as possible in two minutes, "Hill Climb" challenges you to race up an extremely steep slope in a limited time, and "Soccer" is literally soccer on motorcycles.
    • Excitebots features mini-games during the race, which grant extra stars upon completion. Those include shooting darts, knocking down bowling pins, playing the tambourine, fishing, hitting a baseball with a bat, collecting butterflies, scoring with a soccer ball or a rugby ball, throwing a pie in a clown's face, collecting music notes or sandwich ingredients on a grind rail, or smashing opponents with a hammer. There is also a "Minigames" mode which features tracks that each specifically focus on one kind of mini-game.
      • Excitebots also features a mode named "Poker Race", in which players must collect playing cards spread around the track in order to assemble as strong a hand as possible.
  • Mythology Gag: The animation of the rider pumping their fist in celebration after causing an opponent to crash in World Rally is taken straight from Excitebike 64, in which they would behave similarly.
  • Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: Excitebots offers giant butterfly-catching, tambourine-playing, pie-throwing, spinning robot animals in rainbow-colored costumes.
  • Nitro Boost: Each game in the series features a turbo boost mechanic, which greatly increases the vehicle's speed but causes the engine to overheat when used for too long. This can be prevented by driving over special "cool zone" tiles in Excitebike and World Rally, or bodies of water in Excite Truck and Excitebots.
    • In Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle, collecting five coins in a row enables a "SUPER" mode, during which turbo can be used indefinitely as long as the bike doesn't get knocked off the track.
  • Overheating: In each game, using the turbo boost too often will cause the engine to overheat, forcing the vehicle to stop until it cools off. Said overheating can be delayed by cooling off the engine, either by driving over "cool zones" in Excitebike and World Rally, or through bodies of water in Excite Truck and Excitebots.
  • Palette Swap: In Truck and Bots, vehicles have several color variants to choose between. In Truck, all colors are unlocked by default. However, in Bots, each vehicle comes with a unique color, plus default red, blue, and yellow, with other options, including special costumes, as unlockable content.
  • Pass Through the Rings: A way to gain extra points in Excite Truck and Excitebots is to jump off a ramp and fly through a set of rings.
  • Pie in the Face: Excitebots features floating clown heads on some tracks. If you successfully land a pie on their face, you will be rewarded with three stars and the terrain shifting for a better route.
  • Player Data Sharing: Excitebike: World Rally lets players share their own custom-made courses online for others to download.
  • Product Placement: Excitebike 64 features advertisements for extreme sports-related brands such as Bell Helmets, Alpinestars or No Fear plastered along each track. The textures for those were blanked out in the Wii U Virtual Console release of the game, presumably for licensing reasons.
  • Promoted to Playable: Wario appears as a non-playable opponent in Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium 1, but becomes playable from Stadium 2 onwards.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: In Excitebots, if a bot messes up in a bar spin, it will be ripped to pieces. If the pieces stay airborne long enough, the bot will slowly piece itself back together, at which point it will hit the ground like nothing happened, provided that it sticks the landing properly.
  • Ramp Jump: A staple of the series as a whole is the inclusion of ramps for the vehicles to jump of off, after which they need to adjust their angle in the air in order to stick the landing and not crash miserably. Although inspired by real-life motocross racing, other vehicles manage it just as well, despite how unrealistic it might be for a truck to jump over the Great Wall of China and land on the other side unscathed.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The Desert Track mode in Excitebike 64 tasks the player with putting out campfires spread around a fractally generated desert. All the dunes were randomly created as the player explored the area, but previously generated terrain was kept in memory, so the player could always return to a previously visited spot.
  • Rock Monster: Bots features large rock creatures in the terrain that move in place and blow on the racers. Their effect on the race is minimal, but they do add visual flair.
  • Scatting: Present during the intro song of Excitebike 64, and the China course theme of Excite Truck.
  • Sentient Vehicle: While never explicitly stated, the Excitebots seem to be this, given how they pose joyously after certain stunts.
  • Super Title 64 Advance:
    • Vs. Excitebike reprises the Vs. prefix used by most arcade ports of NES games.
    • The Nintendo 64 installment is simply titled Excitebike 64.
  • Time Trial:
    • Both the original Excitebike and World Rally require the player to beat a specific time in order to move on to the next stage; the other riders act more like obstacles than actual competitors.
    • Excitebike 64, which plays more like a traditional racing game, features a separate Time Trial mode in which the player races alone in order to get the best time possible on each track. It's also possible to save "ghosts" of specific runs on a Controller Pak in order to face against them later.
  • Title Scream: EXCITEBIKE... SIXTY-FOUR!
  • Transforming Mecha: In Excitebots, the bots run to the track before turning into vehicle mode. One power-up allows them to turn back to legs mode and kick other racers they get close to, knock over trees, ignore most hazards and grind on rails. Jumping off a ramp in legs mode then transforms the bot into a glider, which can either fly for collectibles or dive for more speed.
  • Updated Re Release:
    • Vs. Excitebike is an arcade port of the original Famicom game, with a new set of tracks and multiple difficulty level. Then the Famicom version of Vs. Excitebike is itself an updated re-release of the arcade version, which adds back the course designing feature, includes a new two-player modes, and even features music during gameplay.
    • 3D Classics: Excitebike is a re-release of the original Excitebike on Nintendo 3DS, which features graphics that have been reworked in order to offer a widescreen display and support the system's 3D capabilities, and a level editor with a much improved interface and the ability to save up to 32 tracks (which was impossible in the NES version).
  • Vehicular Combat: The Crush Challenge mode in Excite Truck consists in chasing after five other trucks spread around the map in order to smash into them as violently as possible.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: Excitebike 64 was a total overhaul of the original game. The cool down spots and stacking ramps gave way to fairly more realistic track designs, the lanes vanished, and the perspective shifted from a side view to a from-behind view. Following installments either took after Excitebike 64 while shaking up the formula with new vehicles and mechanics (Excite Truck and Excitebots) or went back to an experience closer to the original game (World Rally).

Alternative Title(s): Excitebike, Excite Truck