Motorbikes with rockets on them! How can Nitrobike be anything other than, as the box claims, "motocross at the speed of fun"? How can this Excite Truck clone from the developers of Excitebike 64 be less than racing perfection?
Loads of reasons, actually. I'll name a few to get us started. Visually, it's a horrible mess of jagged polygons and smeared, ropey textures. The sound isn't much better, with astoundingly generic guitar hammerings making up the game's soundtrack, and bizarre clattering noises coinciding with the unconvincing destruction of trackside objects. The controls are twitchy and the trick system is bland, unrewarding and two-dimensional. Nac-nacs, lazy-boys, lickety-splits - when it comes down to it, all the tricks are just the same. Some just take longer and make bigger numbers appear on the screen.
On Yer Bike Mate
Put simply, Nitrobike's biggest problem is that it's not Excite Truck. While it manages to ape the control scheme to an extent - you hold the Remote as you would a tiny, plastic steering wheel - everything else about it falls short of the racing game it so hopelessly mimics.
Compared to Excite Truck's sumptuous, primary-coloured visuals, Nitrobike's attempted realism appears stylistically dull (and, as already mentioned, technically lacking). Excite Truck also offers immediate reward for skillful landings, whereas Nitrobike offers an apologetic increase to your boost bar - hardly an exciting and compulsive reason to hang off the front wheel shaking your legs about.
The tracks featured are mundane too, with none of the huge jumps and chasms seen in Excitebike 64. Linear, narrow courses, populated by AI racers who like to fling themselves off the track as much as you do, are bordered by clusters of objects, the sole purpose of which is to infuriate as you attempt to navigate your way back into the race.
Playing online requires you to over-specify the game type you want to play (leading to ridiculous wait times) or, more sensibly, have your mate's friend code at hand.
On the whole it's a charmless doppelganger, impossible to recommend over its competitors and rendered obsolete the moment it was placed on a shelf next to the game it's ambitiously squaring up to. Shame too, as the thought of rocket-powered bikes is so pleasing.