Excite Truck - WII - Preview
E3 2006 Hands On Preview
Prior to Nintendo’s E3 press conference, the company announced that they would be unveiling a new racing game at the show. This is particularly interesting news because Nintendo doesn’t usually make a big deal about the genre (except for Mario Kart, which has yet to make the launch of a new Nintendo system).
The game promised turned out to be Excite Truck, a new off-road racer that turns the Wii remote on its side. Actually it’s you, the player, who will turn it sideways and tilt the remote left and right to simulate the action of turning a steering wheel. Braking and accelerating are done with the Wii remote’s 1 and 2 buttons. All other actions are tied to motion-sensing.
Steering was fun but took time to get used to. Remember, when playing Excite Truck you’re supposed to think of the Wii remote as a steering wheel. The analog attachment is not used – it would just get in the way. You can’t turn using the D-pad, that’s old-school. The only way to steer is to physically tilt the remote in the proper direction. Every tilt, from slight to massive, was detected by the game.
The unstable, constantly changing road types (dirt, grass, mud, gravel, water, etc.) proved to be slightly overwhelming. Excite Truck’s initial courses were somewhat linear, preventing players from having to make too many sharp turns. However, you had to know how to handle your vehicle (and the Wii remote) to make it through to first place.
Speed boosts made the game soar. Hills and uneven terrain acted as launch pads for the vehicle. While soaring through the air, players could tilt the Wii remote backwards to tilt the vehicle. This was necessary to help the vehicle hit more securely when landing on a hill. The opposite could be done to land on hills going down – just tilt the remote forward.
Special level markers can be hit to change the terrain in real-time, creating hills or removing them, depending on the requirements of the setting. Doing so can make the track easier by launching you into the air an extra time. Air travel is less dangerous than trying to speed through these off-road tracks, though that is part of the challenge.
No Wii title has been as visually appealing as Metroid Prime 3, but that doesn’t mean Excite Truck’s graphics are something to sneer at. Truck models look great and have some of the best crash animations seen in a game that doesn’t have “Burnout” in the title. Speed boosts let you bypass some road hazards, but no vehicle is a match for a tree. Hit one and watch in amazement as the truck wraps around the tree, similar to the real-life pictures shown in many anti-drunk driving advertisements.