Like to keep your wheels on the ground? Anal about how much fuel to put in the tank with your pit-stop strategies? Or do you just like to tinker with modifications on your virtual car – a Barbie doll for men? If your answer to any of the above is yes, then odds are you’re not the sort of gamer who’s going to get a kick out of Excite Truck.
If however you’re a big fan of arcade-style racers with no respect for the laws of physics, then Excite Truck is right up your street. If you imagine San Francisco Rush crossed with F-Zero, with a little Monster Truck Madness thrown in, you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect here. Excite Truck is pure arcade bliss through and through.
The first thing I need to get off my chest, though, is that Excite Truck only supports 2 players. Seriously, what was Nintendo smoking? The arcade thrills and spills would have been perfectly suited to 4-player split-screen, and dare I say internet play? Excite Truck could have been a perfect party game to compliment Wii Sports, being a perfect stop gap until Mario Kart inevitably rolls along. Even in the 2-player mode you can’t add in any computer opponents to fill up the track a bit.
Sure, the 2-player races are fun, but because the tracks have multiple routes and are pretty open, the tracks just seem empty with only two vehicles. My first experience with this game was down at the NZGamer office; we were all keen for some multiplayer mayhem, but after a few quick races we spent the rest of the time taking turns to play the single-player game.
It’s a good thing then, that unlike Mario Kart, the single-player side of the game is an absolute hoot. The tracks are all excellently designed with many routes and shortcuts towards the finish. What makes the tracks so much fun to race though is how lumpy and bumpy the terrain is; you’ll be driving through rivers, drifting through lovely banked corners and catching more air than Michael Jordan would if he went skydiving. Certain pick-ups will even morph the track, changing things up for both you and the competition. All this and more at warp-speed 9.
What you all want to know, though, is how well does the game control? What good would warp-speed 9 be if the steering wasn’t good enough to keep you on the track? The good news is that Excite Truck’s controls keep it simple: you turn the controller like a steering wheel to steer, and twist it forward or back to pull up or down to adjust the flight of your jumps. Aside from that you need 1 and 2 to accelerate and even sometimes, though not often, use the brake. Any direction on the D-Pad will active your boost. The controls are sharp and accurate, which is good considering the speeds at which you’ll be weaving through palm trees!
There is a little strategy involved in amongst the chaos though: instead of striving for placings, races can be won or lost on points. Coming first isn’t enough if you didn’t cash out on points on the way to the line. Of course, finishing 1st will add to your points, but you’ll also have to dodge trees, ram the opposition, and catch as much air as you can on the way to the finish line. To really master the game though, you’ll also have to perfect your landing angles as well as knowing when to hit the boost.
At the end of the day, graphically Excite Truck didn’t excite us too much, although it does look fairly good. The music made us thankful that the game supports playing MP3’s off an SD, but the game play was an absolute winner. You’ll always want ‘just one more go’ to beat your last score for each track. If a sequel came out with proper multiplayer and the ability to create and share tracks (it is an Excite game after all) – then we would have to give it a near perfect score.