Nov 15, 2007

This is from the company that produced the wonderful Excitebike 64 - that's a pedigree guaranteed to grab the attention of any Nintendo fan. But from what we've seen during our time with an all-but-complete preview version of Nitrobike, it's much closer to the turbocharged insanity of Excite Truck than to the slower, more considered action of the N64 classic.

There's nothing really remarkable about it, and the marriage of Excite Truck's speed with tighter bike tracks does it no favours. We found the controls weren't responsive enough to drag the bikes around corners at high speed, and the sharp corners are often littered with objects that will either stop you dead, slow you down a bit or explode and force a respawn, seemingly at random.

Holding directions on the D-pad, usually in combination with a button or two, makes your rider pull stunts while airborne. The purpose could be to refill the turbo meter or it could be purely cosmetic - every time we managed to get some air we were too busy trying not to sail off the course to tell exactly what was going on.

Nitrobike is extremely quick and chaotic, with other riders plowing through the best racing line regardless of whether or not you have the right of way. It reminded us to a certain extent of Dave Mirra's BMX Challenge, albeit with a lot more technical polish.

The usual race modes are available, including a career option with multiple events set on the same courses. Tracks need to be unlocked before you can have a go on them in any mode, and our steering ineptitudedestroyed our chances of seeing most of them. Are we really that bad, or is it just this game? We'll delve further into it before next month's review, in the hope of uncovering the goodness that may lie beyond the initial frustration. That we have the urge to do so can only be a positive sign.