After finding some success on the Famicom home video game console in Japan in 1984, Excitebike was released in 1985 on the North American version of the Famicom, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
At the time, Excitebike was a step forward for racing games. For one thing, it wasn’t just a simplistic race around an oval track or along a first-person view of the road. Excitebike offered bike racing that included plenty of obstacles, some worse than others, but also allowed the player’s bike to do some limited stunts, basicalyjumping up high (which might not seem all that awesome today, but in the early-to-mid 1980s this was pretty exciting for a racing video game).
Basically, the player competes against other bikes along a variety of tracks. The object, of course, is to win. Barring that, the player wants to at least come in second or third place, and to move on to other races and other tracks.
One of the unique features about this game was that it allowed player’s to design their own tracks. You could go in and place obstacles wherever you wanted, then play on the track against the computer or friends. The created racing tracks could even be saved on a special cassette recorder, but this machine was, unfortunately, only available in the Japan market. Still, today, through the Virtual Console, these racing tracks can be saved onto the Wii’s memory.
Over the years, Excitebike has proved quite popular, and understandably so since the gamplay is quite addictive and holds up well over time. In 1985, an arcade version of this game was released, known as vs.Excitebike. This game has also shown up on several modern and semi-modern gaming consoles, often as a bonus game to unlock. There have also been a couple of sequel games on more modern systems, such asExcitebike: World Rally, which is available for the Wii, and Excitebike 64 for the Nintendo 64.