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The indoor dirt-track
settings can all seem alike, though they're more challenging to
steer your rider through due to their tight layouts and sharp
corners. The outdoor settings are much more scenic, encompassing
forest, canyon and winter environments. Many of the outdoor
racetracks have hidden shortcuts you can take to give you an edge
The frame rate of the graphics animation is smooth and mostly
flicker-free, even when the screen is crowded with several racers at
once. It looks great when you make your character pull off a stunt.
And you can't help but wince when your cyclist and bike tumble in
separate directions after a wipeout.
The game's biggest fault lies with the sound. While the music
track, covering rap and punk, is decent enough, the sound effects
are choppy -- particularly the bike engines. This was probably a
tradeoff made to achieve an acceptable frame rate for the animation.
It's not terribly distracting, but it is an unfortunate setback for
an otherwise flawless game.
Even if you manage to master the solo races, there are enough
features in Excitebike 64 to keep you busy for quite a while, and
the multiplayer games have indefinite replay value. Still, if all of
this is too much, you can always return to the original Excitebike
to catch your breath.
Freelance writer Howard Wen has also covered videogames for
Salon, Wired and the O'Reilly Network.