Excite Truck finds its origin with the 1985 published Excitebike for the Nintendo Entertainment System. This is still seen as one of the best NES games ever made and you could spend an eternity on the bumpy tracks. In 2000 the game got a successful sequel on the N64 but will this successor in spirit be able to repeat that?
As the name suggests, Excite Truck has nothing to do with bikes anymore. You get control over three different trucks and get to traverse the desert. As the game goes on more will be unlocked up to a total of twenty. The models are quite varied and go from pickups and buggies to the monsters we know from the Paris-Dakar rally. Unfortunately Nintendo chose not to add bikes in the game which I did find to be a miss.
Racing is done on 19 circuits (plus one hidden) that are located in six countries. These are Mexico, thee Fiji islands, Canada, Schotland, Finland and China. Each location has its own style and surface but you won’t notice much about that in the gameplay. All terrains feel the same qua controls and also there’s little difference in trucks here. One just reacts a little slower than the other.
The goal is to collect as many stars as possible and you can earn them in several ways: jumping over hills, drifting through curves and hitting the opponents are just a couple examples. The more aggressive you drive, the better you score. Even finishing first isn’t necessary to get a high score.
The tracks consist out of hills, water pools, forests and here and there a road. Power-ups on the track can create a spontaneous terraforming that will lead to a new shortcut or extra high hill. Another type of bonus makes your truck almost invincible so you can easily take down opponents or try to set a new record of tree scrubbing.
The game thanks its fun factor mostly to the simple gameplay and intuitive controls. The cars can’t only turn left or right but start to lean forward or backward. This means that in the air you can turn a truck to make a longer flight or make a quick dive (by turning the controller back- or forward). The only downpoint here is that the controller in normal circumstances needs to be kept horizontal and you’ll need to start turning left or right to take a turn instead of holding it like a virtual steering wheel.
To prolong the somewhat short playing time of about six to eight hours all tracks can be repeated on a higher difficulty degree. Here the AI will drive a little better but most important is to collect a higher amount of stars in order to get to the next round. Next to that also three stunt modes are added: Gate, Ring and Crush. To succeed in these challenges you’ll need more effort than for the driving itself but don’t think they’re really too hard.
Graphically, Excite Truck isn’t a top title but some tracks do look pretty good. Especially Fiji with its pearl-white beaches and goodlooking water under the sunset is a pleasant setting to race in. The sound is pretty standard but does offer the possibility to load your own mp3s through an SD-card. A multiplayer option is also present but limited to one-on-one games.
Excite Truck is up to now the best racing game I’ve seen on the Wii. Thanks to the simple controls this game is very accessible for everyone and on top of that it’s also fun. Unfortunately it’s way too easy, too short and has limited multiplayer possibilities