Excitebots: Trick Racing is the latest in Nintendo's "Excite" racing series, consisting of Excitebike, Excitebike 64 and Excite Truck, developed by the studio behind the previous entry in the Excite franchise, Monster Games, Inc. It is the second game that have a Wii Wheel bundle from Nintendo. In Japan, the game was only available via Club Nintendo and only more than two years after its original North American release.
The game was quietly unveiled on a Nintendo of America release list, and quickly garnered interest by it's seemingly insane sense of humor. Excitebots deviates from the past games use of contemporary vehicles and replaces them with robotic animals that can transform into cars.
Excitebots controls just like a standard Wii racing game. The Wiimote is held horizontally, with the 1 button for brakes, and the 2 button for acceleration. Tapping the D-Pad will activate a turbo boost that will accelerate your bot considerably, but if used excessively, your bot will overheat and explode. To steer, you simply tilt the control like a steering wheel.
Although this is a racing game, the main objective is not to place first, but to collect the highest amount of stars. You collect stars by doing tricks, stunts, minigames, crashes, and your placement in the race. The race is never stopped for these tricks and minigames, and you have to complete them while racing at the same time.
The amount of stars you have dictates how good you are in the game, and you can use them to buy new Bots and colors and icons to your collection.
ExciteBots can be played online with 6 other players. It plays identically to normal single and local multiplayer races, with the exception that you can bet on your performance against other players. If you feel that you are a good enough player to bet a significantly large number of stars on you winning a race, you can win all those stars you have wagered to your collection. This way, you can gain a very large number of stars in a very short time, or lose them all in a very short time as well.
It can be played with friends you know in real life via Friend Codes or by strangers.
The different modes playable online. Excitebots will find a available game for the player to join, once found the player is given the option to select the "car" that will be driven in a first part during the pre-round then a course that the player wants to race one. Once vehicle and course are chosen all the players will have to "ready" them selves, once everyone ready everyone gets the possibility to bet stars on themselves (either 0, 100, 500, 1000 or 2500 stars). After the race the number of stars every player bet on themselves will be multiplied by a certain number depending on their final star count after the race. They can also play Poker Race, a modified version of the standard races, but only includes the Poker minigame to determine the winner of the race.
The game was kept a close guarded secret by Monster Games, Inc before it's release. They were so secretive, they turned off their monitors whenever the water deliverer arrived to prevent leaks of information.
The game runs on a reworked version of the game engine that powered Excite Truck, allowing for twice as much detail in the environments. It was originally meant to include conventional vehicles like it's predecessors, but they later decided to use transforming robots. The developers explain:
“The original Excite Truck stood out from the crowd because of the unlikeliness of trying crazy tricks with regular trucks that you might see every day. This time, we’re bringing every more insane stunts and tricks. However, when we raced the new tracks with the trucks, we felt that the two elements didn’t match up quite as well as we hoped, and we couldn’t get immersed in the game like we wanted to. So, we really wanted to create an offbeat, unconventional design that no one would find anywhere else and would fit with the wacky action. That’s how we came up with the robot critters.” - Monster Games, Inc.
The game was met with a positive critical reception, including a 4 stars out of 5 from Ryan Davis of Giant Bomb, an 8.4 from IGN, and an 8.0 from Gamespot. They praised it's fun gameplay, it's sense of humor, and lag-free online play, but lamented the lack of support for Wii Speak and SD card support for music. The first sales report for the game indicated that it had sold only 13,000 units, causing many gamers on NeoGAF and Kotaku to complain about Nintendo's lack of willingness to advertise the game in any shape or form. The game was quickly dropped into discount bins, with prices going as low as $5 for some stores.