Over the course of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s lifespan, there were a handful of titles that it either seemed like everyone had, or knew someone who had it. Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt is the obvious go-to, but there were also other seeming staples of the brand, such as Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, Kung Fu, and of course, Excitebike.
Despite being a name that would no doubt perk a few ears up when mentioned in the years following the NES’s dominance, Nintendo didn’t really do much to follow it up until the turn of the century and Excitebike 64 on the Nintendo 64. At least, that’s how it appeared to most players on this side of the ocean; over in Japan, it was a different story entirely.
In addition to an arcade and Famicom Disk System release (both titled Vs. Excitebike), Nintendo would release a sequel of sorts for the 16-bit Super Famicom via the Broadcast Satellaview add-on. But unlike the original, you might say this one had a little bit more “character.” Mario characters, specifically, who took to the titular two-wheelers for a spin around a Piranha Plant-lined track for the amusement of a raucous crowd of Chomps, Boos, and Shy Guys.
Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium was released in four installments, with the first two arriving in May of 1997, and the last two in November of that same year. As with all Broadcast Satellaview games, players had to be present during scheduled broadcasting times in order to play the game.
The first installment came with Mario, Luigi, and Toad as selectable racers, with Wario and red and green Koopa Troopas filling out the rest of the 8-racer pack. Mario’s greedy doppelganger would become playable in the second installment, while Princess Peach was added in the third, and the fourth and final version would add Yoshi, but at the cost of Luigi. Guess some of those Troopas just had more pull at the time (little surprise, given Luigi was left out of Super Mario 64 and all but excluded from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars).
As is the norm with these Broadcast Satellaview titles, this has yet to be made available in any official capacity outside of Japan (though some folks have worked around that). Excitebike would return to using normal human racers in its Nintendo 64 and WiiWare follow-ups, but some small vestiges of the game’s legacy can still be seen to this day.
In Mario Kart Wii, motorcycles were introduced to the series, and the Standard Bike frames are believed to be reminiscent of those seen in Excitebike. If that’s not enough, then Mario Kart 8 added an entire track based on the original game, “Excitebike Arena,” as downloadable content.
It may not be lined by Piranha Plants, but you can still recreate part of the Satellaview experience in 3D, if you so desire — and Luigi can join again, too!