Excitebots: Trick Racing Hands-On

We take a spin in the hottest new bots in this crazy, hectic, adrenaline-pumping arcade racer.

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If you picked up a Wii at launch, you will most likely remember Excite Truck, one of the few games available on Nintendo's hot-selling console that was fun to play and wasn't called Twilight Princess or Wii Tennis. Excitebots keeps the frenetic pace of Excite Truck but adds quite a few new elements to make it more appealing than just a chaotic arcade racer. While we can't share with you all the juicy details just yet, we did enjoy what we experienced.

Fast-paced, high-flying action is what this game is about.
Fast-paced, high-flying action is what this game is about.

As the title suggests, you race as a bot. Bots are an assortment of mechanical insects, amphibians, and mammals that transform throughout the race, and each has its own specialty. Whether you're a bat or a frog, it changes the racing dynamics because your choice will determine whether you can glide or stand up on your hind legs and run. If this sounds weird, well, that's because it is. You'll race through various locales around the world, from the beautiful mountainous regions in Canada to the sun-kissed desert landscape in Egypt. The tracks are varied when it comes to the neighboring foliage, but from what we played, they didn't deviate too much in terms of the terrain. Whether it's a lush jungle or an open plain, they all have plenty of opportunities for you to launch high into the air so that you can pull off cool stunts.

The goal of each race is to collect as many stars as possible (coming in first helps too), and you do so by executing fancy tricks, running into other high-speed bots, or collecting special items along the way. By placing first you'll get a huge boost in stars, but you don't always need to win in order to get enough stars to move on to the next race. Depending on the track, you'll come across strange things like a giant soccer ball, which you can bump into the large net further down the road. By scoring a goal, you'll earn more stars, so you should always be on the lookout for darts, bowling pins, poles, and other random sports-related equipment that might be lying around. Another common obstacle is the red bar, which your bot will latch onto and swing on as though it were a gymnast about to dismount off a bar. Using the Wii Remote, you rotate it in sync with your bot, toward you, gradually increasing the speed so that once your meter fills on the side, your bot will be propelled off into the horizon. It's strange and it's random, but it's amusing and different, which is always welcome.

There are two control schemes for you to choose from. If you have a wheel, you can use it so that your Wii Remote is upright and on its side. The other way to play is by holding the Wii Remote horizontally and tilting it left and right to steer. It's easier with the wheel because it's more intuitive, and racing games are always more entertaining when they're closer to the real thing.

The only other mode we can talk about at this time is Poker Race, in which you try to collect the best poker hand by driving into cards on the track. This can get difficult depending on how well you know poker and how quickly you can decide what kind of hand you're going for. Each time you cash in a hand, you'll earn a certain number of stars. Your current hand is shown at the bottom of the screen and the upcoming line of five cards will be at the top, so you can at least get a heads-up and see what you're aiming for. The problem is, when you play with others, other bots will be gunning for the Ace too, so you'll need to do a bit of multitasking.

A lot of new features have been added, including...running.
A lot of new features have been added, including...running.

Racing is always better with live opponents, so the good news is that online play is available through Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection, with up to six players and their transforming bots. The not-so-great news is that offline play is still limited to two players and you must first complete the training races before you can play with a friend.

Excitebots' visuals aren't a huge improvement over its predecessor, but the colors seem more vibrant this time around with a lot of variety in terms of the locations. Once your surroundings blur to give you that high-speed visual effect, the graphics don't matter as much anymore because the intense and fast-paced gameplay takes over. Be sure to check out the latest screens, and look for our full review when Excitebots: Trick Racing is released on April 20.

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Spectacular66

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I played this at Nintendo World today. This game is REALLY fun!

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Axcel_94

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santiagochile, i disagree. I think that online is great when ur alone, but if u have friends over, u need to have something to play togther. (Nintendo=Best wii games)

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jedinortd_basic

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this sounds fun

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Tye9408

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kavadias1981 maybe you should play excite truck cause it is way funner then any crap the 360 and ps3 can put out

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Tye9408

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Online play o yes i am excited

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Ronaldo27

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This game will either be loved or hated. I'll try it first and then find out what I think about it.

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so_hai

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This seems like a crazy idea, and it might be kooky enough to be a riot. By the way, it's called "Excite Truck", not "Excite Trucks"...

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Gelugon_baat

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Looks like a very fun mish-mash of features. Now these are games that should be produced - FUN games. Not crap like Iron Chef and other s**t that attempts to cash in on popular things.

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NND1

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lOOks like a ton of fun like excitetruck

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savagetofu

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After looking @ the pictures it looks really close to a mixture of Go-Bots & Excite Truck. WOOT!

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savagetofu

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For me Excite Truck was all about the tricks. Thus I have the same excitement for BOTS. I still love, own & play Excite Truck. I thought Excite truck's only flaw was the lack of CPU players you could play against during 2 player mode. As for a one player only racer it is a worthy game. I have high hopes for BOTS. Now I really wish Nintendo would make a new Excite Bike game for Wii Ware using the old 8 bit technology & the vast improved multiplayer tatics we have all come to love. Hopeful this will still happen & maybe we could still make the track ;)

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bionicle_lover

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i loved excite truck, it has to be my favorite racer besides mario kart. Too bad its still split screen but i understand that with so much going on, it could really tax the hardware and frame rate drops would be INTOLERABLE in a speed game like this. The online might bump this game to my number one favorite racing game :) i dont know why, but mario kart didnt hit me as much as i thought it would, probably cause 12 players made the courses to big for four players and too chaotic online :P but six players seems like a great number :D

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teknic1200

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Excite Truck was amazing fun kavadlas1981, who would actually want to play something like motorstorm which was awful. also, last time I checked ps3/360 games cost more then wii games and not 1/2 the price.

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bigethan

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I wonder if they'll still let you play MP3's off the SD card

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deactivated-57fce817a4cf5

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Yes... or you could buy a much better racer for either a PS3 or 360 for half the price. Think about it.

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splendormk7

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it looks really fun.. that's what Nintendo gives us. FUN

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ScionofEntropy

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I actually never played Excite Truck. I enjoyed Excitebike 64, but I guess that's hardly the same thing. This looks pretty fun, and I hope it gets a better response than the sort of lukewarm one Excite Truck got when it came out. Just have to wait and see...

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frogloe

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I liked excite truck so this game should be fun. :)

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xtiansk8

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me too i hope it's good. I did like excite truck, so maybe i'll like this game =P

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nintendo-naut

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It looks cool. I hope it's good.

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santiagochile

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Jebran Rush, I agree. I hated the split screen in Excite Trucks, I could never see what was happening. Online is 100 times better than split screen. I don't know why games still waste resources on this.

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santiagochile

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Online!!!

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isaacmj

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Great, weird racing games are always better than those NFS-like games

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fyor

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sweet!!!

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WllDan7

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Sounds good. Can't wait to see what this game has in store.

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Nintenkid49

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good, but i hope it doesn't take over the F-Zero games

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star77241

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I hope the online is like Mario Kart's.

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enrique_marrodz

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Sound great! I love the speed sense in Excite Truck so this is a welcomed addition to the Excite family

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JebranRush

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6 player online? Sounds great. Split-screen's kind of a lame feature anyway. Reduced graphics, reduced framerate, and reduced screen-size. Not that much fun.