Excite Truck Wii

Excite bike. Long time ago, eh? Well finally the series makes a comeback and tears onto Nintendo’s super-popular new console, the Wii. There are already a few racing games on Wii, all trying to ride on the fact that you can tilt the Wiimote to drive. This is quite fun until you get over it, and begin to want something more from your Wii. This is the perfect time for Excite Truck to step in, do a meek little cough, look timid, and then bellow at the top of its little lungs ‘I’M A DECENT RACING GAME’. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Excite Truck.

Even though you do still just turn the Wiimote, it works much better than games such as Need For Speed Carbon on Wii. At first you may be a bit ‘all over the place’ and you might be slightly disappointed but, as with most Wii games, once you get used to it, you’ll be racing like a pro. The way you steer just fits into this crazy game. The buttons are basic at best. One button for go. Any arrow for boost. Tilt to steer. Play. That’s pretty much summing up the training levels. There’s a few in game mechanics to get used to, but we’ll talk about more advanced stuff later.

With your new driving skills under your belt, you’ll be let loose onto the main game. There are just four cups, plus a small set of challenges. For now, lets focus on the cups. The selection of trucks is pretty simple. There’s a few, all with different specs. You just pick one that either suits your driving ability, or suits the way you drive, if you go for big air, speed or whatever. Your next choice is from a long list of crazily named colours. For instance; Plum Crazy, Nighthawk Black and Vicious Violet. Then you’re set to race. The courses are set across about 6 different environments. They range from Scotland to the snowy peaks of Finland, to the beautiful beaches of Fiji. Once you’ve managed to stop yourself from flying from left to right, then back left again while getting used to driving, you really begin to appreciate just how much fun Excite Truck is. Smashing into other trucks earns you points, depending on how hard you slam them. Drifting, big airs, jump combos, driving through trees without crashing, and even crashing itself earns you points. It seems that no matter what you do, you can’t go wrong. Brilliant! You can happily go from race to race, having a blast and loving every second.

Excite Truck isn’t your average racer, oh no. Instead of being a straight first-place-wins style racer, you must earn ranks, which are the letters D-A and an S. You gain these by collecting stars in the races. The stars are awarded for anything, including: air, drifts and truck smashes. There’s a target number, and how well you do compared to this number determines your rank. Winning gives you a 50 star bonus, and that’s what’ll usually get you the good ranks, but, it’s not vital that you win to get the good ranks, which is a refreshing change.

When you become more serious about the game, you can begin to gain a whole lot more from its experiences. Learning what will gain you speed, what will slow you down, and how to win are valuable expeiences. Nothing is more satisfying than finding out you’ve beaten your own big air record after soaring gracefully through the sky, singing ‘I believe I can fly’ and then smashing onto the ground, four wheels flat to gain the speed boost, and blasting off into the distance singing ‘Don’t stop me now’. All that singing brings me onto another pretty cool point. The soundtrack is surprisingly good. What could have easily been classed as cheesy music manages to feel pretty damned bad-ass and fits in with the whole feel of the game. Some pretty cool, old school rock guitar riffs make the experience that bit more enjoyable. If that’s not your style, for the first time ever on Wii, you can use your own music, Just load some onto your SD card, insert it, then choose the SD card option in the music section of the options. Neat. In multiplayer, Excite Truck is a huge dollop of fun, and does increase the lifespan if you have a friend to compete with.

So hurtling around well designed race trucks in a variety of trucks will keep you happy for a couple of days, no doubt about it. But Excite Truck is by no means perfect. The racing is the best quality. In terms of lifespan, the difficulty is too low, and you can complete all 4 cups with S ranks in about a day. The challenges can be perplexing but once you master the technique, you’ll be able to do them, no bother. Some of the driving skills are a bit fiddly to get the hang of, such as the air spin. It never seems to work; no matter how hard you try and get the button/movement combo right.

Another of Excite Truck’s poorer qualities is the variety of courses. Most feel like some kind of identikit build, where pieces are just taken, and used again and again. As a result, you usually end up feeling that two courses in a certain location are startlingly similar, and in the end, they just get repetitive. I still say they’re well designed, because they are fun to race around, but it’s just laziness that made the developers re-use the same set pieces, instead of being overly creative.

So, this is a kind of hit or miss game. It could have been terrible, but it just manages to be fun enough to make up for its downfalls. It almost gets a huge spade, and shovels fun down your throat until you finally give in and admit you like it. It’s a hell of a ride, but it really should have been longer, and its poor points could have been so easily mended, if the effort was put in. Still, it’s a top class game, better than any other Wii racer so far.

Like all good things, this should be enjoyed in moderation.

7.5 out of 10