Nintendo's new Excitebots: Trick Racing is on the way for the Wii this month, and to mark the occasion Kombo is taking a look back at the other games in the Excite [Vehicle] series. The first article in the series covers the origin of the franchise in Excitebike before progressing to the only-in-Japan semi-sequels and onward into Smash Bros. cameo territory. Here's a bit of the article in which the nonfunctional Save and Load options of the original Nintendo Entertainment System version of Excitebike are explained:
In addition to death-defying races, Excitebike also contained another feature, one which would lead to the game's addition as a part of Nintendo's "Programmable Series" during the "black box" era of the company's releases. Not only could players race across tracks which came with the game, but Design Mode would allow players to use one of gaming's earliest stage editors to create their own custom racetrack. Features which design enthusiasts could tweak included obstacles such as speed markings, speed-reducing mud pits, and ramps of all shapes and sizes, plus where each lap will end and how many will be needed to complete the course. The custom courses could then be played in either of the game's other two modes.
However, there were some shortcomings with this feature. In Japan, it was originally intended to be used with devices such as the cassette-recording Famicom Data Recorder, but in America and Europe, no such device existed, thus rendering the "save" option null and void. The English instruction manual indicates that perhaps Nintendo had hope of making use of it, stating that "Save and Load menu selections are not operable in this game; they have been programmed in for potential product developments."
I missed that memo in the instruction manual as a clueless kid, so I spent a lot... a lot... of lost time waiting for the Save function to finish recording my epic tracks to the game pak. "I can't turn it off and go to bed yet, Mom; it's not finished saving!" I've burned plenty of hours with Nintendo products over the years, but the time spent waiting on Excitebike's never-ending Save screen is the only time that I actually consider wasted.