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Excitebots: Trick Racing Review

4
  • Wii

The level of excitement surrounding these robots is undeniable, even if it's somewhat fleeting.


Wait. Why does that ladybug have a giant hammer?
I'll confess that I didn't come into Excitebots: Trick Racing with particularly high expectations. This is largely because its predecessor, Excite Truck, struck me as pretty half-assed, both in its arcade-racing execution and its feebly manufactured connection to the classic Excitebike. You can see many of the ideas from Truck at work in Bots, some of them copied verbatim, but the rest of the game has been built up with an unhindered enthusiasm for high-speed chaos and a stance towards physics and reality in general that borders on contempt. It's a sugar-rush of a racing game, one that spends as much energy trying to distract you from the race as it does demanding that you give it all of your attention.

Like Excite Truck, Excitebots is an arcade-style racing game with a focus on big jumps and lots of speed. The basic control profile is almost identical, with you holding the Wii Remote sideways, tilting it to steer. Excitebots also touts support for the Wii Steering Wheel, and you can buy the game bundled with the wheel, though the net effect is that you're tilting the remote in a slightly different way. The core handling is kind of mushy, but the track designs tend towards lots of straightaways and multitiered jumps, and they rarely feature serpentine turns that demand much more precision than what is offered. In a way, the handling actually magnifies the sensation that you are perpetually on the verge of going completely out of control--a sensation that I find elusive, but immensely satisfying.

It helps that, amongst the things you need to concern yourself with during a race, the actual racing isn't always at the top of the list.  Regardless of which mode you're playing in Excitebots, stars are the metric by which success is determined. You'll earn some stars for finishing a race in a top position, but you'll get more for catching massive air, performing aerial tricks, drifting around corners, and slamming into other racers over the course of a race. The game will even toss you a star when you crash. The best way to earn stars, though, is by successfully activating the totally insane triggers that litter the tracks. 

Not even giant mechanical grasshoppers can resist the siren call of the SUPER SANDWICH.
As in Excite Truck, you'll find triggers on the track that will change the shape of the course in front of you, usually for the purpose of creating a big-ass ramp where there previously wasn't one. This is, far and away, the tamest of the triggers in Excitebots. Many are sports-themed, requiring you knock over giant bowling pins or knock a giant soccer ball into a goal. Some are just crazy, requiring you to throw a pie at a giant, floating clown face, or construct a fabled “super sandwich” while attached to a grind rail. Tracks are also littered with glowing bars that you can swing around by moving the Wii Remote in a specific way, building up momentum to ultimately send you flying through the air with great vigor.

Now, if I haven't yet made this clear, the vehicles that you're driving in Excitebots are transforming-car robots that look like animals. It's mostly insects, but there are creatures like a bat, a mouse, and a turtle in the mix as well. I can't make much sense out of the reasoning behind the animal theme, but the fact that they're robots is material to the gameplay. You'll find wrench icons on specific sections of track, which will transform your car-bot into a leg-bot for a short stretch. It requires you to rock the remote back and forth to create speed, which makes steering even harder, though the upside is that you can move at incredible speeds, plowing through otherwise impenetrable obstacles. 

If I have a complaint about Excitebots, it's that there doesn't seem to be a huge number of tracks in the game. The standard race mode consists of five different cups, and by the time you hit the third cup, you've seen just about all of them. It's less of an issue than it might seem, since the way bars and triggers are distributed can have a profound effect on how a track plays.


Go all in!
Once you play through the first set of races in the excite mode, you gain access to the rest of Excitebots' goodies. Top of the list is poker race, which is almost exactly what it sounds like. You're competing in a race on a standard track, but you're also trying to make five-card poker hands by picking up giant cards on the track. Different types of hands will net you varying amounts of stars, though if you end up with five cards you don't like, you can use the D-pad to select one of them, allowing you to replace it with the next card you collect. There's a real pat-your-head-and-rub-your-belly challenge to making poker hands while hurtling across a dirty racetrack, which is kind of a definining characteristic of Excitebots in general. It's certainly true of the minigames, which put the spotlight on the goofy triggers and contraptions you happen upon during regular races. 


The online mode in Excitebots is pretty to-the-point, allowing you to jump into either a standard race or a poker race with randoms, or trade Excitebots-specific codes to play with your buddies. It's the very definition of irony that the way the whole friend code system has been implemented actually makes it profoundly more difficult to play with your friends than strangers, though to its credit, Excitebots allows you to send specific performance challenges and replays to folks who are on your general Wii friends list. What makes the online in Excitebots of particular interest to me is the way it will let you wager stars you've earned in other modes on an online race. Stars are basically currency in Excitebots, so the ability to lose them all or double your money based on your performance really heightens the risk/reward online.

As time passes, it gets harder and harder to find games that can actually offer a surprise, so I found the ways in which Excitebots managed to catch me off-guard to be quite pleasing. Even amongst its arcade-style ilk, Excitebots isn't a very nuanced racing game, but it's loud, ridiculous, and crazy enough to be plenty of fun anyway.
57 Comments
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Edited by unclejohn0525

Maybe I'll try this... If only for the points on Club Nintendo. FIRST!

Posted by Death_Burnout

Hmm i could tell from the QL, it looked really fun, i thought Excite Truck was ok too, but annoying.

The music sounded extremely "Sonic" to me...

And Ryan, will ya say Plum Crazy one more time?

Posted by VWGTI

Thanks for the Quick Look and the review. I don't see this as a very appealing game for whatever reason. I'm hearing nothing but positive things but I can't see myself dropping more than 20 bucks on this.

Posted by Akel

SUPER GIANTBOMB REVIEW!
                     * * * *

Posted by manathirst

Sounds like a gambling game in disguise with the poker and the bets for online games.

Posted by MasturbatingBear

This game looks awesome.

Posted by JonathanMoore

Sounds cool enough, a good surprise, I thought this was gonna be terrible.

-- God Bless.

Posted by timetokill

The fact that you didn't like Excite Truck casts suspicion over the entire review, at least in my book.  Excite Truck was a game that really rewarded you the more time you put into it, which I guess doesn't really fit into the typical review style of playing a game quickly and spitting out a review.  But Excite Truck is definitely a stand-out in my mind for under-appreciated gems that have been overlooked mostly because of the middling reviews.

Anyway, having played this at GDC I know ExciteBots is awesome and I'll be picking it up by the end of the week.

Posted by Erdie

I'm going to pick it up.  It sounds like a lot of fun and I could use a good crazy online racer.  Sure, there's mario kart wii, but there's barely any racing in that game.  It's non-stop item chaos.

Posted by LordAndrew

This game seems to have just the right amount of crazy.

Posted by truben877

The fact that this review started off with, "I'll confess that I didn't come into Excitebots: Trick Racing with particularly high expectations" renders it completely useless to me.  No matter what the score.  If you want people to view your website learn how to write competent, informative, and unbiased reviews.  This just seems like some random dude who summarizes the game, makes a complaint for the sake of it, and thinks that using big words and clever litte quips will make it seem smarter.  Sweet job guys.  I'd love to show you how it's done Ryan Davis.

Posted by Fantastical

Getting this soon. Can't wait. :)

Posted by patrick

@truben877

Get off your soapbox. It's a thing called transparency. Reviewers are human and the more insight they give into their mindset while reviewing a game, the more a user can put things into context when taking a review into consideration. That's more than you can say than the faceless blurbs behind GTTV and the like. Look at GB's Rock Band 2 review, they mention the fact they knew Navarro. What should they've done then, hire a freelancer? Hell no, people come to GB to read Gerstmann and crew, that's kind've the point.

Posted by mrsaturn101

big ass ramps

Posted by xanavi

@Truben877
"I'd love to show you how it's done Ryan Davis."

There is a user reviews section for every game on the site. Pick one and put your money where your mouth is, please.

Online
Posted by Mercanis

@truben877


Thanks, dude. You made me LOL. That's some good satire of what a douchebag would post as a comment. You're trying to be ironic, right?


Um... right?
Posted by truben877

As reviewers they should be able to go into a game open minded but with a critical mindset.  Going in with any sort of expectations is unprofessional, which i understand is virtually impossible, but it should be downplayed as much as possible.  Why do you think journalists generally don't reveal their political views?  I do honestly believe that I and many people are capable of suppressing a bias when viewing something, for the sake of getting the clearest picture of the game out to people.  You're angry at me, though you should be angry at the website and the writers for allowing their predispositions to get in the way of their reviews.

Posted by truben877

PS You are all very defensive of this website.  I pity you all.

Posted by truben877

"If you're good at something, never do it for free."  Was that the quote in the Dark Knight?  Speaking of biases, I don't think any of you would read my review with "high expectations."

Posted by RHCPfan24

I can never get tired of that Ryan emoticon.

Posted by dgordon39

Ryan Davis is a hack.  Truben will put his money where his mouth is...and put Davis to shame.

Posted by momentarylogic

SUPER SAMMMICCHHHHHHH!!!!!

Posted by Claude

"makes it profoundly more difficult to play with your friends than strangers" Classic, I caught that. Great review Ryan.

Posted by alConn

So a reviewer is honest and you rip him? All reviews of entertainment (movie, book, video game, etc..) are subjective, no matter how a review tries to make it look otherwise.  Comparing reviews to journalism such as the Associated Press that try to have absolutely no bias whatsoever in their writing is faulty.  In such a subjective piece, it is best to know the reviewer's mindset and inclinations towards a game, genre, or whatever, as it helps in grasping the reviewer's viewpoint and comparing it to your own tastes, which is the general idea in the first place.  If you do not care for this type of review, than Giant Bomb reviews may not be something you should rely on when making a purchasing decision, although there are plenty of other good reasons to visit the sites (Quick Looks, Endurance Run, Bombcast, etc..)

Posted by theMcNasty

I agre, the friends system on Wii is a joke.  This review (and obviously the prior Quick Look) changed my view of this game.  It's something I'll definitely have to buy soon.

Posted by truben877

I feel like I already defended myself to this argument, didn't I.  It's how you start the review.  Saying that you enjoyed one part of a game and not another is fine, but jumping into a review already expecting something goes beyond bias and borderlines on plain ignorance.  Is it so much to ask that a reviewer start a game without an opinion already?  Of course they are going to come out with an opinion, but going in with one makes these guys no better than the fanboys bantering on the forums.

Posted by MeatSim

I want a super sandwich! it must be tasty.

Edited by Kinarion

Truben:

Total Reviews Written 0 Reviews Your Average Review Score
Community Votes 0 out of 0 users recommended your reviews Total Comments On Your Reviews 0 Comments

Edit: Just a heads-up: To have credibility, it helps to have some credit history.
Posted by truben877

Yes, clearly my activity on the website has anything to do with this debate/argument/discussion.  Good one.  All of us must rally against the intruder!!  Truben is evil! CLEARLY! 

Posted by Jeff

"I'd love to show you how it's done Ryan Davis" is my new favorite sentence on the entirety of the Internet.

Staff
Edited by insanejedi

My issue with this review is that it partly runs into some inconsistency's with the last game. True, Jeff did review Excite Truck and not Ryan, but the reasons for why that game was fairly middling by Jeff are still kind of the same as the problems that Ryan came up with, that main problem was lack of variety, not only that Ryan established a very similar attitude to Excite Truck calling it "half-assed".  To me, you didn't exactly prove what was different or what was improved from the last Excite Truck, which would be the main audience's question coming from a background of Jeff. I think the conclusion of this review was also a bit iffy, as the last game was also "loud, ridiculous, and crazy."

To me, it did not provide the actual answer of what makes this a 4/5 compared to what obviously would have been Jeff's 3/5 or even 2/5. I don't like to play scores, but when their inconsistent to one another I have to call them out, and there are not only score problems as well but criticizing issues in the writing.

And unlike Truben877, I actually write reviews... long ones too... I recommend you check me out.

Posted by dgordon39

More importantly, I really feel as though we as humans morally ought to abolish the death penalty in order to positively progress contemporary United States civilization. YAY!

Edited by RenegadeSaint

I love that you guys allow comments on your reviews.  It allows for the hilarity of internet egotism to shine through. 

Please continue to enlighten us, Truben877.

Posted by Lifestrike
truben877,

People have read Jeff and Ryan's reviews, and, if it was a positive one, purchased the game in question.

Then, they had fun playing the game in question.

This scenerio occurs with a large number of readers.

Fin.
Posted by dgordon39

How do Jeff and Ryan's nuts taste?

Posted by truben877

Come one, come all, my children.  Here are the lessons I give to you:
1.  Not all can be enlightened, so do not be wary if you cannot understand my words.
2.  To trust and blindly support in an internet reviewer is the equivalent to sucking your little league coach's sausage, right after the big game.
3.  This website is using you!!! FOR MONEY!!  But judging from the fact that there are no advertisements on the site nor do they require money to be a member, i would say that they aren't very successful.

Posted by insanejedi

@truben877

Your just a fucking Armchair elitist.

Posted by kennybaese

Looks sweet. As an avid Mario Kart fan I love me some  goofy racing games, so this seems right up my alley. Never played Excite Truck, sadly.

Posted by dgordon39

@insanejedi

Well, you sir are a loser :P XD  lulz   xoxoxoxo

Posted by truben877

AWWWWW COOOL TERMINOLOGY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by JJOR64

Kick ass, glad to see that it got a 4.

Posted by Knives

Goddamn, what the hell is wrong with you people?

Posted by Reuben

This definitely looked like fun in the Quick Look

Posted by Lifestrike
truben877,

You don't understand.

Jeff gave MK VS DC a positive review. People bought MK VS DC because he gave it a positive review.

These people ended up having fun with their purchase.

The actual review could be jklajiogadiogdajgidaogkdamgoadgoiamgdioaga, but if it convinced the person to purchase a game he or she enjoyed, then it doesn't matter.

Posted by truben877

Lifestrike,
look dude, this isn't me being egotistic or anything, but i promise you, you are very wrong right now.  I understand what you are saying, but that is not how everybody goes about buying a video game.  Yes, these reviews provide good info, but no, they should not tell you if you will enjoy a game.  Also, the reviewers of this website are NOT all knowing, despite what all these forum kids may say.  You should really try making up your own mind about video games, and not depending on a couple bums in an office building somewhere in California to make these decisions for you.

Posted by get2sammyb

Urgh... SO. TEMPTED. TO. ORDER.

Posted by Roland_D11

At the "Review Discussion":

I think truben877 is generally right. A reviewer should try to downplay a possible bias as much as possible.

But, for me, this does not apply to Giantbomb.com. I go here and read the reviews because I know the reviewers are biased and are not hiding it in any way. I really like the personality in the articles, reviews and videos.

Giantbomb.com is in my eyes not a regular reviews site (like gamespot.com or ign.com would like to be), but a site of people who love videogames and share their thoughts about them with a community.

Posted by Hairydutchman

Ugh when will it come out in Europe!!

Posted by MattBodega

Part of the reason we're on Giant Bomb is that many of the users are DISHEARTENED by the current state of review affairs. For the users who do use Giant Bomb's reviews, we WANT opinion more than a summary of features.If you're looking for the "unbiased", you might be happier at Gamespot, where a game's quality is measured less on the reviewer's opinion and more on an established criteria. That's not a worse system, mind you. It's just different.

Posted by VWGTI

@ truben

Yo, man. I get what you're saying, but I think GiantBomb reviews are the best around at the moment. I just want to know if you had fun with the game and why and then I'll figure out the rest on my own. Even though Ryan said he enjoyed this game and that he recommends it, I'm not going to pick it up because I don't find the game very appealing. It's up to the consumer to make their own decision and use all the information available to them to make the right choice.

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