Better known as “the other first-party Nintendo Wii game,” Excite Truck entered the Wii arena with little pomp and circumstance. No swords or princesses. Not a single rabid rabbit to speak of. In fact, the only thing remarkable about this game was the name itself, Excite Truck. Most diehard Nintendo fanboys will remember a popular title for the NES, Excite Bike. Other than the overheating from boosting, the two titles share little in common. Look past the jagged lines, and you’ll find a game that even the most casual player can pick up and a game that racing veterans won’t be able to put down. Excite Truck may just be one of the hidden gems in the Wii launch line up.
Putting Four on the Floor
One of the big components of Excite Truck is the controls. Players hold the Wii-mote long ways with the d-pad to the left and the number buttons to the right. Imagine yourself playing on the old NES when you were a kid. Ten, Twelve, seven – it doesn’t matter. Think about popping in that old racing game and how you would lean to the left or right as you edged around every corner. That’s how it works here. No steering. Just tilt the way you want to go. The first couple of tries will send you flying off the path. Even after you get the handle on the little adjustments, your truck still tends to slide every so often. In other games that may be a complaint, but here, the game forces you feeling out the course to keep player on their toes – or in this case, fingertips.
Stop eyeing that Prowler right in front of you as the time ticks down before a race. He’s not the real enemy. It’s the road you’re racing against. Excite Truck uses a Star Point system to determine whether you merit a move to the next track. A quick 50 Stars come with the checked flag, but there are other ways to secure some stars. Long jumps, driving close to trees, even crashing all add up to your star tally. With enough tricks and leaps, you can even pass the track and be in last place. Excite Truck allows players to find their own path to the goal rather than force players to a single course.
Speaking of tracks – you have one hell of ride in front of you. Beyond the normal hairpin turns and well timed-jumps, this track likes to shake things up. Exclamation marks scattered around the field reshape your path – from steep ramps to plunging paths. Power ups treat your car to an extra boost of speed to break through trees and pesky cars. Combining the two turns this difficult road into an organic rollercoaster that keeps every track fresh and… well… exciting.
Down a Lonely Road
Nintendo has been beating home the idea of quick and casual games for the whole family. Excite Truck may just be the poster child for Nintendo’s new mantra. There’s no Grand Prix mode in this game. Players tackle each course on their own. Win or lose, you’ll get points, such as perfect slides or highest jumps, added to a longer tally that unlocks rewards once you meet a certain goal. Even playing with the same car for more than ten races will unlock a new paint job. On the other side of the road, car models are acceptable, but they won’t be getting first place any time soon.
Multiplayer may just be the one big oil slick on the track of perfection. With Nintendo pushing a multiplayer atmosphere with most of their games, you wonder why they limited Excite Truck to only two players. Imagine your friends flying into the air as the earth beneath them gives way in a four-player mode or over the internet. Alas, Excite Truck is only a two-seater.
More than Meets the Eye… or Hand
Excite Truck is fun to play. It’s as simple as that. Trees blur as you race past lush forests. You press the button furiously to get back on the track after a nasty crash. The music dies just as you hit the apex of an incredible jump leaving you only with the sound of wind and a smile on your face. There’s no need to tweak or tune-up any of the generic cars you win by completing tracks. It’s the nice game you can play with friends or take home to your mom. While this may not be a racing game for the hardened fans of the genre, Excite Truck may just win over a new fan base through its simple controls, interactive environments, and a soul that remembers when people played games for fun.
Article by: Rob Manuel
Video produced by: Rob Manuel