Ride on the wild side with 'Excitebots'

When it comes to racing games, consider Nintendo's Excitebots: Trick Racing at the opposite end of the spectrum from realistic simulations, such as Sony's Gran Turismo series or Microsoft's Forza Motorsport games.

Rather, this Nintendo Wii exclusive fuses an over-the-top driving experience with outrageous midair stunts. The end result is a fun and frantic racer that is sure to please kids and kids at heart.

In Excitebots: Trick Racing, you're in control of colorful robotic vehicles styled to look like insects and animals while tackling wild outdoor tracks in locations including Egypt, Mexico, Canada, Fiji, Finland and China.

Reaching the finish line first can help your score, sure, but more importantly, you must collect a specific number of stars in order to proceed to the next track, buy better 'bots and unlock new game modes. This is achieved by pulling off wild moves, such as catching big air on a jump, driving as long as possible near trees without crashing, drifting around turns or launching your 'bot through a series of rings. How well you perform these moves will also determine how many stars you get per trick, therefore a decent air spin might net you two stars, while a flawless spin will win you five.

You can also swing on a bar (by rotating the Wii remote or Wii wheel) and release for a huge airborne acceleration; drive over a wrench to have your 'bot sprout legs and run; perform silly sports tricks, such as smashing into bowling pins or knocking a giant soccer ball into a net; toss pies into a clown's face; and throw a dart onto a bull's-eye.

This is hardly your daily commute.

It's highly recommended that you use the Wii wheel, which you might already have if you own the Mario Kart Wii game. Alternatively, for an extra $10 you can pick up Excitebots: Trick Racing with a wheel in the box. Simply snap in the wireless Wii remote and hold the wheel in front of you to control the 'bots.

Along with the main race mode, also included is the Poker Race option (collect cards to make a good poker hand), 10 minigames (including one that has you compile a sandwich) and the ability to race against a friend beside you or over the Internet via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. You can also trade "ghost" data via WiiConnect24, which offers a semi-transparent view of your recorded race so others can attempt to best your performance.

Racing fans who want a ride on the wild side won't be disappointed with the family-friendly Excitebots: Trick Racing.

Contact Saltzman at gnstech@gannett.com.