Oldies but Goodies – Excitebike

Genre:  Racing
Platform:  NES

Matt and I are taking a motorcycle safety course today so we can legally ride the new Tao Tao scooter that we recently purchased.  What a better post for today than Excitebike!

I believe Excitebike was one of the first games I played on the NES.  It seemed so fun at the time.  It was action-packed and could get difficult.  We all had the struggles with the stupid bike overheating (see video below).  Sometimes the computer seemed to cheat.  It did that a lot in these older racing games.  The obstacles seemed ridiculous.  But it was still a fun game and actually did get a bit challenging as you played through it.  I don’t know that I ever made it past the first five levels or so, but I was a kid and just had fun playing it.  My sisters and I would compete, but they were quite a bit younger and I would destroy them.  And gloat.

I also spent quite a bit of time with the level creator.  It was the first game on the NES that I had played that had something like that and I really enjoyed it.  If I thought the obstacles on the main game were ridiculous, then the levels that I created were just insane.  It was jumps from one end to the other.  Needless to say, I didn’t play my own levels very often.

I’m not sure that I would recommend going back to play this now, however.  I recently did so, and it’s just not that much fun anymore.  Enjoy the game in your memory!

Chey’s Top 25 – #15 – Project Gotham Racing

Genre:  Racing
Platform:  XBox Original

I got Project Gotham Racing (PGR from here on out) when I got the XBox original on launch day.  I loved this game from the second I put it in the drive (pun intended).  The graphics are amazing and still hold up well today.  It was the first game that I played that allowed you to integrate your own soundtrack from the XBox’s hard drive into the game.  It handles that brilliantly – there’s a DJ on the radio and he talks between your songs, just like the radio.

I wasn’t much of a fan of racing games before this one.  I played a few of them over the years including RC Pro Am, Super Cars and Need For Speed.  But this game was/still is special.  You don’t just drive to win in this game.  Now, if you want to, there is a mode for that.  However, that is a tiny fraction of what you can do.  The game is divided into cities – New York, London, Tokyo, San Francisco, etc.  In each city there are different tracks and challenges that you need to pass to get better cars and progress through the game.  My favorite car was the Nissan GTR Skyline (superb handling).  Those challenges include time trials, overtake challenges, total laps and more.  But the heart of this game is kudos.

You get kudos by driving with style.  Anyone can slam into other cars and walls to win.  This game rewards you for finesse.  You get points and combo streaks for things like clean sections, drifting around corners, getting air, driving on two wheels, passing cars (without hitting them) and a lot more!  If you hit something, your streak is over and you don’t get the kudos.  Let me repeat this – you are rewarded in this racing game for using your breaks once in a while.  Once you get good at it, notice how your hands react to the course and how fluid you are with the game.  I love this game so much that it regularly finds itself in my XBox 360 drive (thank goodness for backwards compatibility).

Even if you don’t typically like racing games, I would recommend trying this one.  It’s very different from all other racers and I haven’t been able to find one like it since (except PGR 2, 3 and 4, which are all solid games).


Oldies but Goodies – RC Pro AM

Genre:  Racing
Platform:  NES

I still play this one from time to time on my GCW Zero.  This was a fun little racing game where you were racing an RC Truck.  There were supposedly 32 tracks, but I certainly never made it through them all.  As you raced your truck around the track, you could pick up new parts for upgrades, letters to spell out PRO AM and other boosts.  There were also hazards on the track such as oil spills and water.  The crew at these tracks were not very good at cleanup and cautions weren’t a thing.  I know this is not unique in any way to racing games, but it was one of the first I played and thought it was a blast.

The AI (computer) was also notorious for cheating in this game.  You could be almost a lap ahead and suddenly the second place car would come soaring up right behind you, often passing you.  It was complete and utter BS, but that was a part of the game.  The idea of the RC cars was also very appealing to me as a kid.  The sound effects were good and hearing the music brings a smile to my face every time.

If you missed this one the first time around, I strongly recommend finding it and giving it a try!