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Excitebots: Trick Racing Review

Title: Excitebots: Trick Racing
Developer/Publisher: Monster Games Inc./Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Release Date: 04/20/2009
Number of Players: 1-2 local, 6 online

Excitebots: Trick Racing is a “sequel” to the Wii’s launch title Excite Truck, and mixes many of the same basic mechanics with lots of new ones. While this title still focuses on fast racing and big jumps, there are an assortment of new tricks and activities you can perform via numerous different types of objects. To find out about these additions, how the online plays, and what the hell is up with those bug-karts, read on.

The first thing I want to go over is how the two games are the same. Firstly, they control the same, allowing you to play with the Wii remote on its side, classic style, or inside a Wii Wheel, which is virtually the same. You press the 2 button for gas and up or down on the d-pad for boost, but be sure not to overheat your engine. You can still get a super boost off a jump by clicking the boost right as you leap into the air, as well as do a spin. And if you’re a bit rusty, you can go through the tutorial; in fact, I think you are required to.

Races are still focused on collecting stars and getting ranked, with S being the best. You get stars from pretty much everything you do; boosting, drifting, getting air, combo jumping, banging against opponents, performing the new activities, and even crashing. A huge star bonus is also given for how you place at the end of the race, so while getting first isn’t stressed, it’s still very important if you want that S ranking.

Instead of driving trucks, you’ll be driving around some sort of bug or animal. There are 12 of these vehicles to control, including a frog, beetle, bat, turtle, and more. Each is pretty unique looking, and has a few stats; weight, grip, turbo length and turbo power. You can further “customize” them by choosing a color. Some of the vehicles and colors are locked at first, but you can unlock them and/or purchase them with your stars. Each vehicle also has a special design you can purchase, which is super expensive. For example, the bat’s design is Dracula; very cool. You can also purchase dioramas, statues of your vehicles, and icons for your save file and online avatar.

The new activities in the game are pretty varied. While racing around the track, you’ll run into numerous “?” boxes and poles. The poles are used to spin around to launch into the air or reach new areas. There are actually a variety of poles; the yellow ones spin you around automatically, and when you’ve reached the end of a spin, you flick the remote forward to launch off; if you’re timing is poor, you’ll get launched out of control and probably crash. There are also red poles where you have to spin the remote to spin your vehicle around numerous times. There is even a pole where you get launched upwards and can do a few back-flips.

Aside from the poles, there are the “?” boxes which make a variety of things happen. Common ones include changing the terrain, typically so a big mountain is created that you can jump off of. Aside from that, you can make some gift boxes appear, which usually house items which can help you or attack opponents. Sometimes, you’ll also be given a pie which you can toss in a clown’s face, or a dart which you can throw at a board. Other activities have giant footballs or soccer balls appear, which you run into to launch over a goal post or into a net. These are all interesting, and take a bit to get used to. Luckily, there is a minigame section where you can play all of these and practice.

Throwing the dart, and other such moves, are all easily accomplished with a press of the A button.

The single player “campaign” is comprised of 5 cups, which each house 4-5 races. You have to get a B rating in all of the races in one cup to unlock the next, which isn’t too terribly difficult, but getting all Ss is a true test. If you manage that, then you unlock Super Excite difficulty, which features much more aggressive opponents. You can also play these levels in versus mode.

Versus mode is pretty much the same as it was in Excite Trucks, unfortunately, where you can only play 1 v 1, without computer racers, making it a bit bland. Fortunately, you can also play the minigames with a friend, or the new Poker Race.

The Poker Race is playable in three relatively small tracks, and has you trying to get the best possible 5 card hand you can, collecting stars for each hand you create. You always start with 4 cards, and can collect a fifth. From there, you can either submit your hand and get stars, or swap cards with ones you collect. The player with the most stars at the end of the race wins. The mechanics are pretty good, and the upcoming cards are even displayed on the top of the screen as a heads-up, which gives you a few seconds to plan out a strategy; where to move to get which card, and if you should just submit your hand or go for a better one.

The last mode in the game, which is also the most competitive, is the online mode. The online mode gives you the ability to play with friends or random people, in either a standard race or a poker race. Also, you can continue playing with the same people until you decide you’re done, and their names and icons are displayed for all to see. Before each race, everyone picks a track they want to play on, and then the computer randomly selects one. Each person also places a bet, from 100 to 2500 stars, on how well they think they will do, maybe. It could just be you place an amount period. At the end of the race, you will get a multiplier for your bet, and the higher you placed, the better the chance you will get a high multiplier, while finishing in last gives you the possibility of getting a 0x, losing your bet. My experience with the online mode was very positive, as there wasn’t any lag at all. And this is by far the best way to get stars so you can purchase those statues and new vehicles.

The Review

It’s a racing game; what do you expect?

Gameplay is very similar to that of Excite Trucks, although a variety of new activities have been added in, making racing a bit more interesting. The game still maintains its fast speeds and frenetic gameplay, with tight controls and addictive desire to amass stars and get an S ranking.

The graphics are reminiscent again of Excite Trucks, with varied environments and colorful locales. They are relatively smooth and pleasing, but nothing that will blow you away.

The Good:
The racing is still spot on and as fast as ever. The added activities are a bit odd and out of place, but make the races more fun and interesting. Online play is another incentive to keep playing, aside from getting all Ss, and collecting stars will allow you to purchase an assortment of things.

The Bad:
Only 1 versus 1 local multiplayer? And no CPU opponents? Come on now.

The Ugly:
The vehicles; WTF…a turtle and a praying mantis? I don’t understand.

Exitebots: Trick Racing is a fun racing title for the Wii. The racing is fast and frenetic, and there are a variety of activities and moves to perform while playing to give it a nice twist from ordinary racers. The local multiplayer is a bit lacking, but there are new modes, like Poker Race, and an online mode to keep you occupied. Also, you’ll be busy collecting stars in order to purchase new vehicles, colors, and statues, as well as trying to get all S ratings. It’s a solid experience all around.

Final Vote: 4/5

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