EXCITEBIKE / Nintendo / NES

At this point, with Excitebike, I have played all of the NES games currently available for the Virtual Console (ed. note: this was written in 2007). After going through this library, I have drawn certain conclusions about Nintendo's methodology in releasing games for this format. Their primary aim seems to be to prey on nostalgia. I don't think they give much of a flip whether a game they release to the Virtual Console is truly quality, or still stands up as playable today. No, what they basically want is for a bunch of out-of-it urban yuppies to go "DUDE! They have EXCITEBIKE on here! You remember EXCITEBIKE?! That game kicked ass! EXCITEBIKE! I'm gonna get it dude, no seriously I'm downloading it!" My hypothetical urban yuppie has not played this game in nigh on fifteen years or more, but he remembers (as a pre-pubescent child) enjoying it, and therefore assumes he will still feel the same way. So he downloads it, and plays it for five to twenty minutes, and then never goes back to it, but it's immaterial to him because he has all sorts of extra money to burn on frivolous bullshit like this. And it's immaterial to Nintendo whether there's a mass market to push these games to - they only need a reasonably sized chunk of the market, such as my hypothetical urban yuppies, because it costs them nearly nothing to distribute these old games over a system that is already in place (and probably using emulation code lifted from various open source projects and uncredited to boot). They could sell this crap for $1 a pop and most likely make a profit.

My point being, Excitebike isn't really a very good game. It's basically about holding the accelerator button down, switching to the faster accelerator button in front of ramps, landing flat, and occasionaly pushing up or down once to dodge a thing. It was an OK little reflex tester, I suppose, in a simpler era. It's got little to no value now. But here it is, along with a load of other junk. Instead of actually using this format to release console classics that have become hard to find, or obscurities that a lot of people missed out on, we get Baseball and Urban Champion and Excitebike.

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