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3D Classics: Excitebike - 3DS Download Review

Game Info
3D Classics: Excitebike

3DS Download | Nintendo / AKIRA | 1 Player | Out Now | $5.99 / £5.40
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7th September 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

I've never understood what's so exciting about
Excitebike. I guess it's one of those games you had to grow up with to really appreciate. I've always felt that the original was just a decent game, so I was interested to see how I'd react to 3D Classics: Excitebike. As a person who purchased the 3DS at launch, I had the ability to pick this up for free, but since then, Nintendo has slapped a price tag on it (presumably to give early adopters one more reason to be satisfied with their initial purchase). And so, this is where this review comes in. By the end of it, hopefully you can determine for yourself whether or not it's worth picking up this enhanced version for $6.

    Gameplay-wise, 3D Classics: Excitebike isn't difficult by any means. Players engage in motorbike races on dirt tracks with ramps, rough terrain, boost pads and other track elements. Instead of adopting a behind-the-car view, the camera is set away from the environment to display more stuff on-screen at a given time. The camera follows your character's movements closely as it moves forward on the track. To house multiple racers simultaneously, tracks feature four or so lanes, allowing you to move up and down along the track to follow different paths and prepare yourself for upcoming traps or bonuses. Transitions are pretty quick, but you still need to have your eyes fixed on the right side of the screen so you can give yourself enough time to react.

    In terms of controls, button customization has been put in place so you can map the different functions in a way that suits you best. The default scheme, though, has you using the A Button to accelerate, and the B Button for turbo. At the bottom of the screen in a black bar, there is a gauge that resembles the front of the bike, indicating how much turbo you've used. The differences in using the Circle Pad and the D-Pad are pretty small. I personally was more drawn to the D-Pad's hard button presses, but I could see why some would prefer the Circle Pad.

Much of the fun comes in the quick reaction time required for launching off ramps. As you make your approach, you can lift your front wheel to angle your bike better and even adjust while airborne so you can land in the neutral position. Failing to do so with your bike's nose pointing towards the ground will result in a crash, pushing your racer off into the background. The game will automatically make him run back to his bike, but you can you can speed up the process by pressing A or B repeatedly.

    From the revised Main Menu for this version of the game, you can select Start Game, hit Records to see your best times on each track, or head to Options to change the button mapping mentioned earlier or even the extent of the 3D effects. After hitting Start Game, you have three selections via the original menu from the NES release. Selection A & Selection B are the main fixes where you can select a track to start from, or run through an entire Championship. In the former, you'll be playing by yourself, and the other option adds AI to the mix. To continue through the full cup, you must beat the third place time shown along the bottom left of the screen. There is also a Design option that allows you to create 32 custom tracks for play. I personally didn't make use of this much, but if you're really into the idea of using a Course Editor, then you'll likely be returning to this mode quite often.

On the matter of 3D, the Depth Slider is used in an interesting way that gets players to contemplate how other 3D Classics will turn out. More than just adding in 3D functionality, adjusting the Slider will add visual depth in the way of a raised backdrop. Instead of just seeing a portion of the stadium towards the top of the screen, perspective comes into play, slanting the background in such a way that you're able to view the entire stadium, the event attendees, and even the sky as you tread along the track. Not only does this add more colour to balance the roughness of the tracks, but it also makes the setting feel more realistic and eventful.

    In stepping away from this remake, I must say I did enjoy playing this more than the original, but to be clear, it's not because of the 3D. As nice as the effects are, they aren't enough to change my mind on the game itself. Instead, I have come to see that Excitebike works better as a handheld experience. Just the fact that it's on this new platform gives it a slightly different feeling which, of course, is expanded upon with the revised visuals.

    Probably the only thing that would have made this even better is if Nintendo added a multiplayer option for two-person head-to-head races. Even though I think the price is pushing it, I'd say the value is mostly there. The game is enjoyable to play in handheld form, the 3D adds to the feel of the game, and the Design mode allows for increased replay value amongst those who enjoy user-created content. As nice as it would have been for you to obtain it as a free download, you shouldn't feel like you're getting ripped off by purchasing this game.

    As a nice showcase of the potential these remakes offer, 3D Classics: Excitebike is a game you should feel comfortable downloading. In short, it's a fun handheld experience made better by the visual touches Nintendo has implemented. Consider this remake worth trying out.

23/30 - Good

Gameplay 8/10 - Great controls with button customization, race on simple dirt tracks with multiple lanes, angle your vehicle as you launch off ramps
Presentation 8/10 - Nice use of 3D to add visual depth, setting feels more dynamic and inviting when the Depth Slider is utilized
Enjoyment 3/5 - Fun once you get going and can launch off ramps easily, especially challenging with other racers, works better in handheld form
Extra Content 4/5 - Ability to create up to 32 custom tracks, records, some may not see it as being completely worth the price tag

Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8

3D Classics: Excitebike
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