There is nothing more invigorating for the video game industry than the launch of a new console. It’s the one thing that brings developers, publishers, journalists, and fans together in absolute excitement for what is to come. It’s a cause for celebration as we jump into a new generation of gaming, and an opportunity for developers to launch hot new properties to eager consumers. Call of Duty made its console debut at the launch of the Xbox 360. SSX debuted with the launch of the PlayStation 2. Rabbids got their start with the Wii… okay maybe that’s a bad example.
Actually, the Rabbids still being marketable today is probably a triumph for Ubisoft because that Wii launch had a lot of competition. A lot of it was crap — *cough* Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam *cough* — but it had to stand up against the likes of Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Any game would be buried underneath either of those two titles, which is why it’s amazing we still have Rabbids games today. It’s also why I don’t think nearly enough gamers appreciate the splendidness that is Excite Truck.
The last thing on my mind leading up to the reveal of the Nintendo Wii was the Excite series. I didn’t play Excitebike 64, so the franchise was always this remnant of the NES era Nintendo didn’t care about anymore, like Kid Icarus. But then, out of nowhere, Nintendo brought it back. After watching videos of it out of E3 I knew I had to own it. Once I bought my Wii, it was one of the first three titles I picked up.
It may neither be the prettiest nor the most robust game, but Excite Truck on the Wii is still one of the best racers I’ve ever played. And it was perfect opportunity to show what the Wii was all about. EA brought traditional racing with Need for Speed: Carbon to the launch party, but a traditional racer on a non-traditional system just didn’t make sense at the beginning. The Wii was all about having as much fun as possible, and every track in Excite Truck emphasized fun first. I still remember flying off a jump in my Jeep on Fiji as the world became a blur around me, hitting my turbo just as I land into a small shallow of water to cool my engine and keep me going full speed.
Excite Truck was a game I simply found myself lost in. It’s so easy to learn everything, but getting those first-place finishes across increasingly complicated maps and against incredibly difficult opponents devoured my time. I’m not huge on racing games, but Excite Truck swallowed me whole. I don’t know if we’ll ever see a sequel, but goddamn an HD remaster would be frickin’ sweet on the Switch.