Review by GabrielConroy
"A good initial free download, but don't expect much bang for your buck."
As the first entry in a series of makeovers for old Nintendo games, 3D Classics: Excitebike sets a fairly low standard. Early 3DS owners who had the option of downloading this title for free would have been silly to pass it up; but at a current price of $5.99, that's exactly the treatment it should get.
The main aspect that separates the original Excitebike from this version is the 3D overhaul, which is optional. This, however, is one of the few legitimate selling points. With the 3D slider up, you can adjust the depth of the screen, moving the crowd in the stands further to the back and eventually seeing the sky and clouds in each course. Comparing just the graphics of the two games makes the 3D version seem quite impressive, especially since many of the launch titles for the 3DS didn't utilize the 3D effect to an extent in which you always want to play with the 3D turned on. For that, 3D Classics: Excitebike should be praised.
However, most other areas of the game are lacking the same kind of consideration. Gameplay and replay value, specifically, are mostly disappointing considering the opportunities available. 3D Classics: Excitebike has three modes/options at the game's title screen: Selection A, Selection B and Design. The first two allow you to attempt setting high scores on tracks against yourself and against AI opponents, respectively. Design allows you to create up to 32 of your own tracks to race on. These modes work fine by themselves, but the lack of any online or local wireless functionality is bewildering. Even an online leaderboard would have added some much needed incentive to return to the game. As it stands, racing on these tracks is only briefly entertaining, and all players except those obsessed with trying to get the best times possible will soon be tired of the lack of content available.
Another questionable omission is a soundtrack to accompany the otherwise good sound effects of the bikes and crashes. Of course, this is a classic remake, so trying to recreate the same feel of the original game would account for this, but at least having the option of accompanying tunes would have been an excellent addition.
These issues aside, the controls are responsive enough so that the game is not frustrating, and it does take a little bit of investment to master the timing and degree of jumps and landings. When you bump into certain obstacles or use your turbo to the point of overheating, your bike will crash off-track and you're left to mash the A and B buttons to get back on it as soon as possible, so there is a decent challenge in being precise.
These small appealing factors, though, aren't enough to recommend the game earnestly for its full price. Early 3DS owners who are dying to get onto the racing track with a vehicle might look into Ridge Racer 3D or just wait for the upcoming Mario Kart release, because the content-to-price ratio will mostly likely exceed 3D Classic: Excitebike's. The silver lining with this release is that it doesn't set the standard so high that 3DS owners' expectations aren't unreasonable for further installments in the 3D Classics series.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 08/19/11
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