Of all the titles Nintendo had on show probably the most puzzling of all was the aptly named (but awkward sounding) ExciteTruck. The game, a sort of successor to the original NES classic Excitebike, and to a lesser extent the N64 versions Excitbike64, bares only a passing resemblance to its supposed predecessors.
The game is played from a standard 3rd person, behind the vehicle, perspective. The vehicles themselves are fairly generic, beat up, offroad 4x4 trucks of varying (although not by much) shapes and sizes. The two courses available on this demo were kind of bland landscapes, nothing particularly eye-catching about either of them. Represented in a fairly realistic manner the graphics are especially underwhelming when compared to some of the more stylized Nintendo offerings and the much better suited for it, next-gen offerings of other consoles.
In spite of all of its ho-humness, the game?s style managed to grab us instantly and seemed to maintain its fun factor without fail based on the one thing that it does share in common with its circa 1988 forefather, the ability to control the pitch of the vehicle in mid air. Basically the courses are just a series of steep jump like hills, and long straight valleys.
This layout, coupled with decidedly less than realistic physics and a boost power that accelerates your vehicle from 4x4 to f-14 in about 0 seconds, suddenly places you in something more akin to Wipeout than say 4x4 Evo. Power sliding around muddy turns, adjusting the pitch of your truck in mid air (man do those trucks catch some air) to get the most distance and the cleanest landing, whilst all the while dodging trees and your fairly vicious opponents was just an absolute joy.
If we had one complaint it was that holding the controller sideways in two hands to mimic a steering wheel isn't quite as instinctive as we would like. We recurrently found ourselves jerking the controller from side to side in hopes that it would aide in recovering from a poorly implemented launch. However we imagine that this is the sort of thing that will quickly iron itself out with just a bit of play.
While we would certainly have appreciated something a bit more stylized in terms of polished looks, we can't exactly fault Nintendo for trying to offer something with a slightly more mature feel to it in its launch lineup. While it's certainly not going to garner the attention of the likes of Metroid and Mario, ExciteTruck is certainly shaping up to be a damn fun little Wii game. If multiplayer is indeed included, handled properly this could definitely serve as an excellent alternative until the inevitable "new-gen" iteration of Mario-Kart is released.
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