On Yer' Bike!

Ten of the best bike-based video games and biking moments throughout the past three decades.

By fishdalf, Posted 04 Aug 2011

In one of our more offbeat features, we take a look at ten of the best bike-based video games and biking moments throughout the past three decades. The titles included span from 1984 right though to modern day, from pedal-powered road bikes and def-defying stunt bikes, to Grand Prix motorcycles, and even a couple of unicycles thrown in for good measure.

Excitebike, 1984 (NES)

Excitebike, MotoGP, Pokemon, Uniracers, Trials HD, Road Rash, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Pro BMX 2, Joe Danger, Paperboy, Bike

We start with one of our earlier entries in Excitebike, which was one of the first motocross games seen on a home console, and also one of the first that allowed you to create custom tracks. These couldn’t actually be saved though, well, unless you lived in Japan and had a special cassette peripheral. The game was limited to two modes - one where you raced solo against the clock, and one where you raced against others. The gameplay wasn’t all too taxing, but the obstacles strewn throughout its five courses were known to catch you out on occasion, as did the temperature bar, which prevented you from accelerating too fast, bringing you to a screeching halt if you didn’t allow for a short cooling down period. The game has been ported many times since its initial release, including most recently a 3D remake for the Nintendo 3DS, and was offered as a freebie when the handheld’s Nintendo eShop opened in June of this year.

MotoGP, 2002-Present (Series)

Excitebike, MotoGP, Pokemon, Uniracers, Trials HD, Road Rash, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Pro BMX 2, Joe Danger, Paperboy, Bike

In 2002 motorcycle racing seen a big change, as the sport entered the MotoGP era and THQ took the rights along with it, bringing out five successive entries on the PC, Xbox and Xbox 360 respectively. Still regarded as some of the best motorcycle games of all time, they improved significantly year upon year in terms of authenticity, graphics and overall playability. That was until MotoGP ‘07 hit and fans discovered a noticeable decline and ultimate lack of effort. Capcom soon took the reigns, handling the PS2 version of the game, but that did nothing to improve matters. The experienced developers still remain series producers, but the series has become somewhat stagnant of late, receiving average reviews year upon year and just hasn’t pushed on and made those large strides the series once did.

Pokemon, 1996-Present (Series)

Excitebike, MotoGP, Pokemon, Uniracers, Trials HD, Road Rash, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Pro BMX 2, Joe Danger, Paperboy, Bike

You may be wondering why we’ve included everyone’s favourite polychromatic pocket pals, and that’s because, while the game doesn’t centrally focus on bikes, you do spend large portions of the game cycling from one town to the next, collecting Pokemon, thwarting Team Rocket’s relentless and ridiculous plots, and if you were barmy over breeding; using it as a means to hatch your eggs faster. The bike first appears in the original Red and Green editions, and is first seen in Cerulean Town for 1,000,000 credits. Craftily though you can only hold 999,999 and obtaining it is only possible through a bike ticket you pick up along your travels. Later iterations saw bikes become more integral, where instead of simply helping you move from point A to B quicker, added routes that were only accessible with a certain bike type – Mach, was the faster of the two, granting you enough speed to traverse steep slopes, while Acro, allowed players to perform tricks, such as bunny hopping, to gain access to gapped areas. In more recent games both bikes have been merged into one, with different gears allowing for faster or slower speeds, depending on requirement.

Uniracers (Unirally in Europe), 1994 (SNES)

Excitebike, MotoGP, Pokemon, Uniracers, Trials HD, Road Rash, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Pro BMX 2, Joe Danger, Paperboy, Bike

The release of the game was extremely short-lived, after the developers, DMA Design, were enthralled in a legal battle, which eventually ended in them being sued by Disney’s Pixar. It came down to the look of the unicycle that apparently shared quite a resemblance to one featured in a short film from the animation studio. It was a real shame, as while the game was totally bizarre, the concept was unique and fun, and was receiving quite favourable reviews right up until the discontinuation of production. The main concept was to defeat rival unicycles - that sported one of sixteen different colours - in races and stunt contests, ultimately achieving a bronze, silver or gold medal. Each track was a multicoloured assault on the eyes, think Kirby: Canvas Curse, with certain coloured sections indicating a shortcut or hazard ahead, such as a break in the track or an obstacle. The game allowed for up to eight players, competing against one another in a one vs. one league format.

Trials HD, 2009 (XBLA)

Excitebike, MotoGP, Pokemon, Uniracers, Trials HD, Road Rash, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Pro BMX 2, Joe Danger, Paperboy, Bike

There’s one motorcycle game in recent times that’s certainly caught the attention of gamers, garnering over two million downloads already through Xbox Live Arcade, and that’s Trials HD. Set on a 2.5D plane, the games assiduous approach to over-the-top physics helps you tackle some pretty demanding stunt courses, thirty-five in all, and range from beginner to extreme. The player can also participate in challenges, that have obviously been thrown in for variety, things such as pulling bombs as far as possible without causing a severe enough impact for them to detonate. In addition to these, the player can make use of a level editor and share these formulations with friends across the globe. There’s definitely an emphasis here on sharing, with the top five-thousand fastest times - the fundamental goal of the game – all available for viewing, complete with controller inputs so you can take tid-bits of information from them to perfect your own times.

Road Rash, 1991-Present (Series)

Excitebike, MotoGP, Pokemon, Uniracers, Trials HD, Road Rash, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Pro BMX 2, Joe Danger, Paperboy, Bike

If you mention Road Rash to someone who has played one of the older versions you’ll be met with a smile and probably a discussion on the games revolutionary gameplay, hilarious crashes, and unforgiving difficulty. The series introduced a slew of features that were either a first for the racing genre or amongst the first. Some of these included: riders appearing to go up and down hills at different heights and angles, an interactive environment, with signs, trees and poles to avoid, and active traffic that changed lanes. If all that wasn’t tricky enough, riders could also engage in combat, initially with hands and feet, but if timed correctly you could steal weapons from your opponents, such as bats and crowbars, which you could then use to dismount them. The aim of the game was to reach one of the top three positions in each race, which became increasingly faster, harder and longer as you progressed. Doing so earned you money to buy faster bikes, but leaving no money for bike repairs or fines when you lost a fight with the police meant it was game over for you.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, 2002 (PS2)

Excitebike, MotoGP, Pokemon, Uniracers, Trials HD, Road Rash, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Pro BMX 2, Joe Danger, Paperboy, Bike

While it wasn’t the first of the Grand Theft Auto series to feature motorcycles, (the original did) it was the first to implement them to any great degree and in a full 3D format. There were six cycles available in the game: Angel, Faggio, Sanchez, Freeway, PCJ 600 and Pizzaboy, which could be used to make pizza deliveries as part of an optional side-mission. The reason Vice City makes our list is because there truly was no greater feeling than cruising around the streets and down narrow alleys on two wheels, gunning down innocent civilians as you pass. They did have their downsides though, as naturally a big enough impact would cause you to dismount, it was easier to get arrested, and you were also far more likely to be struck by gunfire. All that didn’t matter to our main protagonist Tommy Vercetti though, and why would it when you’re voiced by one of the greatest mafia actors of recent times, Ray Liotta.

Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX and Pro BMX 2, 2001-2002 (Series)

Excitebike, MotoGP, Pokemon, Uniracers, Trials HD, Road Rash, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Pro BMX 2, Joe Danger, Paperboy, Bike

In light of the huge success of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, Matt Hoffman decided he wanted a piece of the action, and the sudden boom in extreme sports games made its major leap to BMX. The gameplay followed an identical pattern to the original Hawk games, only with a slightly tweak to compensate for the physics of a bike. The game felt a little bare bones, but the extremely tight control scheme, game mechanics, and some pretty tidy level designs went some way to making up for it. Pro BMX 2 followed a year later and added Road Trip mode, which incorporated tasks, such as achieving a high score, or performing a certain trick combination in the allotted time. The series never went passed the second instalment though, as the genre became saturated rather quickly and the demand for the same type of game only with a different spin felt unnecessary.

Joe Danger (PSN)

Excitebike, MotoGP, Pokemon, Uniracers, Trials HD, Road Rash, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Pro BMX 2, Joe Danger, Paperboy, Bike

Joe Danger is our most recent entry, published and developed by Hello Games. A company formed by four friends who each played an integral role at respected developers such as Criterion, Sumo, EA, Kuju and Climax. With their talent pool they set out to create a stunt game, similar to Trials HD - which was released the previous year - only with a big vibrant dollop of light-heartedness, a solid multiplayer component, and a bunch of arcade elements to boot. So instead of merely traversing the level, you collect things such as letters, attempt to hit hard-to-reach targets, and switch course sections at certain points to gain more bonuses. The game also features a pretty slick level editor that allows you to share and play courses across the world, either on your own or with friends.

Paperboy (Arcade)

Excitebike, MotoGP, Pokemon, Uniracers, Trials HD, Road Rash, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Pro BMX 2, Joe Danger, Paperboy, Bike

Sometimes a game will come out that wins the hearts of gamers everywhere, and in 1984 Paperboy did just that. Starting out in arcades, the uniqueness of its handlebar controls drew people in and thus started the dominance of the Atari Games classic. Since then the game has been ported so many times it’s ridiculous. The concept was – and for the ports still being released – still is a very basic concept. You took the role of a paperboy who delivered papers to the homes of subscribers over a period of seven days, with each day becoming progressively more difficult. However, due to its unorthodox bottom to top screen movement and the fact you were constantly moving, means it wasn’t as easy as it sounds, and there were plenty of hazards and misdemeanours to hinder your run and lose you a life. Missing a delivery saw you lose subscriptions, breaking a subscriber’s window sometimes led to traps being set, or even saw you chased down the street. A clean run of seven days without losing all your lives was possible, but difficult, even on the easiest setting. Losing all your lives saw the end headline read "Paperboy Calls It Quits." Having all subscriptions cancelled or too many houses vandalised read "Paperboy Fired", and in an Apprentice eat-your-heart-out moment, a voice rang out, "You're fired!"

Know of any more great games featuring bikes?
Tell us about it on our community forums.

Craig Bryan, NoobFeed
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comments powered by Disqus

  • really miss that paperboy and exitebike. *.*


    Posted Aug 05, 2011

  • There hasn't been any better game featuring bikes than MotoGP so far. Bike racing in Burnout paradise is also a worthy mention. But out of all the bike racing games, Road Rash is the most fun game ever.


    Posted Aug 05, 2011

  • Excite Bike brought my interest in bike releated games. Road Rash took it to next level!!


    Posted Aug 05, 2011

  • I spend hours riding bikes in GTA. Riding bikes in GTA Vice City was more fun than any other bike racing game. Nothing beats Road Rash though.


    Posted Aug 05, 2011

  • My favourite bike-related game must be FUEL. I can spend hours ploughing through the wilderness on dirt bikes in that game. Then again, I am the official FUEL fanboy at NF.


    Posted Aug 08, 2011

  • Never got too into the biking games.



    Riding bikes in GTA is the best. I especially loved it in San Andreas. I slightly remember playing Paperboy as a kid and having a good time. I love top 10 articles, great read!


    Posted Aug 06, 2012

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Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, WII, 3DS, Vita, Mobile
Publisher(s): NoobFeed
Developer(s): NoobFeed Editors
Genres: Artcile
Themes: Feature, Editorial, Interviews, Opinion Pieces
Release Date: 2009-02-14

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