Excitebots: Trick Racing

For good, clean racing fun, it's hard to top Excitebots: Trick Racing.
Phil Rownd - Guest Reviewer
Content at a glance:

Mild violence

Mario Kart style violence, vehicles bump into one another and crash. Sometimes vehicles catch on fire.

Other

Some use of playing cards.

So, you’ve gotten bored with Mario Kart Wii and you’re looking for another quality, family-friendly racer. What a gem this is. The sequel to Excite Truck establishes itself as the Nintendo-published racer to get, easily matching Mario Kart for good, clean fun, and absolutely blasting past it in terms of sheer freshness and creativity.

excitebots-2

Many games have attempted the “wild and wacky” approach to racing, and Excitebots nails it. The first big change from the original Excite Truck is that the trucks are gone. Instead, we have an assortment of crabs, bats, mice, hummingbirds, and insects that tear around the ever-changing off-road courses and can transform into two-legged robots.

Crossing the finish line first is required for those who really want to earn the highest scores (it earns you 75 bonus stars), but you don’t have to. That’s because the real goal of the Excite series is to earn a massive amount of “stars” by performing tricks, driving dangerously, and mixing things up on the track. Like Mario Kart, there are power-ups littered all around the race course. Some of these power-ups physically alter the race course. Mountains and canyons will form in an instant before your very eyes. Stone golems will rise out of the mountains and smash a shortcut for you through the rock. The amount of variety in each course is astounding. In a single race my praying mantis did gymnastics on a flip bar, rescued some butterflies, kicked a soccer ball into a goal, threw a dart at the bulls-eye, and a pie at a laughing clown face. In another outrageous race my frog grabbed onto a bar and swung around ten times before launching himself into the air, making a sandwich (I told you this game was outrageous), and crashing into some bowling pins for extra stars. It’s crazy and weird and probably sounds like too much to take in all at once, but after a race or two it will all come together and most other racers will feel stale by comparison.

There’s a whole “mini-game” mode devoted to these goofy events, wherein you can set new high scores (this would be a great party game for 2-3 friends). A third mode called “Poker Race” has you collecting cards as you race to build a winning hand (no gambling though). With all this variety, no two races will ever play out exactly alike, and with plenty of extra skins and trophies to unlock, there’s enough meat here to justify the price of the game.

excitebots-4

The difficulty level is perfect for a game that will likely be enjoyed by every member of the family. Controls are fairly simple. Just tilt the Wii remote to the side to turn. As you master the basics you can add other little tweaks your controls to perform tricks. My five-year-old son is able to enjoy the game at his beginner’s level, while I’ve been gaming for 25 years and I find the “Super Excite” level extremely challenging. The point is, difficulty (or lack thereof) will not be a problem for anyone. Everyone gets satisfied here. Should you want some multiplayer action, two-player split-screen support is here for those who like to share the same TV. If you want to take advantage of the Nintendo’s online racing community, you’ll have to do it without voice-chat. It’s not supported.

Also missing is the ability to download your own tunes, an unfortunate omission, seeing how the original Excite Trucks let us plug an SD card and listen to our own music. This is especially unfortunate because Excitebots’ music is of the generic techno-rock variety, and it won’t appeal to everyone. Fortunately, the songs are all word-less, so there are no bad lyrics to worry about.

The graphics and sound effects won’t win any awards, but they perform where it counts– in making players feel like they’re careening around at insane speeds. Dirt and water will fly, and the sense of speed on the ground is exhilarating, as is the sense of scale as your bot soars half a mile through the whistling wind before smashing back to earth in a flash of fire.

Like Excite Trucks, Excitebots features six racers on track at once, all banging into each other at intense speeds. The bots do crash– a lot, and they break into flaming pieces of wreckage. And yet, the violence is no more affecting than Mario’s Koopa shells smashing into his foes in the Kart series, or a little child crashing his Matchbox cars into one another. The ESRB was right to rate Excitebots “E for Everyone.”

Without any objectionable content to speak of, I heartily recommend Excitebots: Trick Racing as a game that gamers of any skill level can enjoy alone or with 2-3 friends. I hope this gem doesn’t go overlooked by the many Christian gamers who are looking for some good, clean fun on the Wii. I would even go so far as to recommend it above Mario Kart Wii for gamers who plan to game off-line.

excitebots-3




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

About this game