|Platform: Wii Genre: Racing Release: April 20th, 2009 (NA)|
So let me get those flaws out of the way first so you forget about them by the end of the review. First of all, the music, graphics, and presentation in general are average and forgettable. The animal-themed bots are more interesting than the trucks in Excitebots's predecessor, Excite Truck, but they'll never be as iconic as other Nintendo characters. Similarly, the environments, which are supposed to be themed on real-world countries, are simply not very memorable. The graphics are fine, but the art direction will leave you remembering levels as "that tropical level" or "that desert level", which still doesn't help you to remember which tropical level or desert level was the one you liked. The music is functional, but nothing special, and it's disappointing that the option to use music from an SD card that was present in Excite Truck is no longer available in Excitebots. Another complaint that many might have is that the game requires you to use motion controls to play, by holding the Wii remote sideways. Steering in this way works well, but some of the tricks can be awkward and feel gimmicky.
|Maybe this red bar acts as a loading buffer, but it uses annoying motion controls and interrupts the flow of the race.|
|Sometimes we all need to be rewarded for our sandwiches.|
There's no rhyme or reason to these challenges, but the constant opportunities for more stars that they offer and the fact that you have to balance completing the tasks while driving makes them surprisingly fun. It's this constant positive reinforcement that the game gives you in the form of stars that makes playing so enjoyable. If you suck, you'll still be getting stars, and if you're good, the game makes you feel good by pouring out nonstop rewards and notifications of your achievements. You can then use the stars you've earned in single player or online to unlock new vehicles, colors, icons, and other collectibles.
The other thing that makes Excitebots so satisfying is how ridiculous and awesome the physics are. As well as making the previously mentioned challenges appear, the exclamation points on the track can also deform the track to create hills and valleys which work as ramps or shortcuts. Many of the ramps are huge, but even off of small ramps you'll be able to perform turbo jumps, which send you flying forward with a satisfying "whoosh" of flame. You're also able to control yourself in midair, and the motion controls allow for pivoting in all directions with ease. The boosting, which is used for the turbo jumps and just gaining speed in general, is limited by an overheat meter on the side, so you'll want to be careful to use as much boost as possible without overheating. Luckily, driving through shallow water will instantly reset your boost meter. Like the rest of the game, it doesn't matter if it makes real world sense; it's there because it's fun.
|Catching huge air is so satisfying.|
|Honestly, compared to the rest of the game, this isn't even weird.|
Unfortunately, while this game does have online play and the ability send your records to friends, the online community is pretty much dead now (if the servers are even functional at all) and with WiiConnect24 being phased out on June 28th, 2013, you won't be able to share your records any more either. But don't let that stop you from trying out the game; going for all S ranks in single player is the real meat of the game and you won't be missing out too much if you can't get online.
The Final Word:
It doesn't look like much, but Excitebots is an incredibly fun and unique racing experience. If you can, you should definitely give it a try.