Racing Games for Nintendo Switch
If the need for speed is in your heart and you want to take it on the road in more ways than one, you need some of the best Switch racing games. From realistic titles that require skill to master to family favorites, Nintendo Switch has a robust offering of great racing games that shouldn’t be missed. In a move that should surprise nobody, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers the best possible experience, but it isn’t the only awesome racing game you’ll want to get your hands on.
Best Overall: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe — Nintendo Switch
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes everything that has always been fantastic about this franchise and makes it even better. The driving controls got a major update and have been fine-tuned for the Switch. You can now easily powerslide through turns to overtake other racers, even if you’ve never played a Mario Kart game before. It still requires a combination of luck and skill to win, so even if you’re playing as your favorite character, victory is never assured. However, the optional kiddie controls make playing approachable for any age or skill level, so you can play with the whole family.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers up 48 different tracks, including new designs and old favorites from previous titles. You’ll see Toad’s Turnpike and Twisted Mansion, and new courses like Water Park or Cloudtop. Each one offers unique obstacles and takes time to master. You have access to all of the tracks and characters (except one), including content that was initially part of DLC packs back on Wii U’s Mario Kart 8 in 2014. The only one locked from the get-go is Gold Mario. However, to access the best karts, you’ll need to play some races. Additionally, you can gain access to even more tracks from previous Mario Kart games by paying for the Booster Course Pass. This DLC releases in waves and will eventually double the number of tracks available by some time in 2023.
Overall, Mario Kart blows the competition right out of the water. They deliver a superior experience combining nostalgic races and aspects of gameplay with new tracks, customization options, and characters. You can also play online with friends or random players from the internet, and it’s a smooth process. Trying to find races is never particularly difficult, and lag doesn’t seem to be an issue. There’s a reason this is best racing game on Nintendo Switch, no other one manages to deliver the full package as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe does.
- New courses to race
- 48 different races to enjoy
- Fun and easy to pick up
- Not as challenging for seasoned players
Best Value: Sonic Mania + Team Sonic Racing Double Pack
What’s better than getting one game about speed? Two, obviously. With this bundle, players can experience some retro-style sidescrolling Sonic games in Sonic Mania as they speed through each level either solo or with a friend. Then of course there’s Team Sonic Racing.
Instead of working to be the solo victor on the track, you are placed on a team and want your team to win. Dodge around obstacles, find the best paths to take, and give your teammates a boost using special Team Ultimate moves. Like Mario Kart, up to four players can play on one screen or up to eight can play when playing off of multiple Switch consoles in local wireless. Just make sure you have enough Joy-Cons to go around. If you don’t have anyone around to play with, there’s also the online component which supports races for up to 12 people.
With 21 exciting tracks to experience and 15 characters to choose from, you can really change things up and experience each race a little differently. Plus, you’ll unlock additional vehicle customization options that not only make your car look cooler, but also improve your performance on the track. Work together with your team to race to victory.
- Race as a team to win
- Online multiplayer races
- 21 courses
- 15 characters
- Can be a bit sluggish at times
Best for Crashing: Burnout Paradise Remastered — Nintendo Switch
It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper Burnout sequel. While we patiently await the next installment for more cinematic crashes, EA has decided to quench our thirst with a remaster of Burnout Paradise, the open-world racer where up to eight players can enjoy ripping their cars to shreds in high-speed races.
In Paradise City, use one of over 130 vehicles to smash, crash, and speed through busy downtown avenues and risky mountain roads. Burnout Paradise Remastered includes all of the previously released DLC, as well as hundreds of online challenges, tons of high-octane stunts, and plenty of destruction. The game has also been optimized on the Nintendo Switch, so you can enjoy all of the mayhem in glorious 60 FPS.
Burnout Paradise Remastered looks great and holds together incredibly well on the Nintendo Switch, in both handheld and docked mode. The inclusion of the DLC and the upgraded visuals make Burnout Paradise a game worth returning to. Unfortunately, like most multiplatform Switch releases, Burnout looks good on the Switch but looks much better on other consoles. That’s not to say that they are terrible on the Switch, it’s mostly noticeable for Switch owners who prefer docked play.
- Includes all DLC
- 60 FPS gameplay
- Crashes looks spectacular
- Better-looking versions on other consoles
- Not a proper Burnout Paradise sequel ☹
Best Remote Control Racing Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
Source: Rebecca Spear / iMore
The standard Mario Kart racing formula receives a real-world twist with Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. Players can set up a race track in their homes and then take charge of either a Mario or Luigi remote control car and race against each other. There is a little camera on each vehicle and that feed shows up on the Switch for players to view things from the camera’s point of view.
This camera also reacts to the signs that come with the car to overlay Augmented Reality (AR) graphics over the camera feed. For instance, this makes it so you can see digital racers, items, and obstacles that appear on the track. If you hit a banana in the game, your car will slow down until your character recovers. Additionally, the speed of races you choose determines how fast the car will move in the real world. You can race solo since there are digital opponents, but it is more fun racing with a friend who has their own car.
Races can host up to four players at once, but each player must have their own car to participate. Additionally, players can either each have their own Switch, or two players can share one Switch and view their camera feeds with split screen.
- Reactive remote control cars
- Build custom tracks
- AR elements
- Requires lots of room
Best for Star Wars Fans: Star Wars Episode 1: Racer
Relive the excitement from the prequel Star Wars trilogy by racing around 25 different tracks from eight worlds within the Star Wars universe. You’ll start off with a handful of podracers, but can unlock even more as you continue to play with 23 podracers available total.
As you can tell from the texture, this is not a brand new game on the Nintendo Switch, but rather a faithful port of a classic N64 game. Races are still very fun and will be especially enjoyable for Star Wars fans. However, unlike many other Nintendo Switch racing games, this one does not support online multiplayer. As such, you cannot test your skills against others online.
- Fun for Star Wars fans
- Faithful port of the N64 classic
- 23 podracers
Best Mario Kart Alternative: Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix
Much like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix features an ensemble of Nickelodeon characters who can use acquired items to help them get ahead. However, it differs from the classic racing game in that each character has their own special moves that can give them an edge on the track. Up to four people can play on one Switch or you can participate in online races if you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership.
There are 30 playable characters as well as 70 companion characters from hits like SpongeBob SquarePants, Avatar, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rugrats, Invader Zim, and much more. The companion characters help you customize your abilities so you can race your best. Experiment with different skills to see which ones help you get ahead the best.
With such a fun new take on the racing experience, this is one of the best racers out there to compete with Mario Kart. It does have some performance issues, but it works much better than the initial game, which we suggest you avoid. The only other downside is that this game features so many iconic characters, but there isn’t really any voice acting to flesh them out.
- 30 characters, each with their own moves
- 28 tracks
- Online multiplayer
- Some performance issues
- No voice acting
Best Physics Defying Races: GRIP: Combat Racing
GRIP: Combat Racing delivers an experience unlike any other racing game on Switch combining fast-paced races with serious combat. You’re able to hit speeds above 700 mph. Roll along roads, walls, ceilings, and anything else your tires can grip onto. The game has four different planets, with 22 different tracks, nine unique power-ups, and 14 different armored cars to choose from.
GRIP delivers a fast racing experience that combines fun physics with plenty of combat between racers on the track. There are a variety of modes to play from Deathmatch and Elimination to Speed Demon and Classic Ultimate. Each mode offers different gameplay, and players who used to love the WipeOut series will have a ton of fun. Each race is its own adrenaline-fueled thrill ride, and you never have to follow the same route. Races are littered with power-ups like shields to protect you from enemies and boosts to speed. You can even traverse the walls and the ceiling, provided you’re moving fast enough, that is.
GRIP has 14 different armored cars. Each one has its pros and cons, many of which are related to the physics system. Since each vehicle has its weight, you’ll need to spend time with them to get the hang of how it handles to use it best. Otherwise, you may attempt to take a turn and go flying off the course, which is never a good time.
- Gorgeous and exotic tracks to race
- Passive and aggressive power-ups
- 14 different cars
- Steep learning curve
- You need to get the hang of the physics system
Best Realistic Racing: Gear.Club Unlimited 2 (NSW) — Nintendo Switch
Many racing games deliver a lot of fun without much realism. Gear.Club Unlimited 2 isn’t one of those; the level of realism players get in this game is what makes it one of the best Switch racing games. It gives you 50 real-life cars and lets you race through over 1,800 miles of track with 250 individual races. Along the way, you can customize your vehicles, and build a club with friends to challenge other clubs for the glory of being top of the leader boards. It also includes a story mode for players who want more than just random races. Plus, it has 4-player split-screen so you can play with friends.
Gear.Club Unlimited 2 really shines in the career mode. You start as a test driver thrown into a race at the last moment. From there, your career zooms along. There are 250 different races, and depending on how you finish, you’ll earn in-game money. However, there are no microtransactions to gunk up the works, which is an awesome change from some other franchises. Use in-game money to buy different cars; there are 50 that will unlock through the game, including a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport and the Porsche 918 Spyder towards the end.
To upgrade the cars, you’ll need to enter the garage rather than having a simple menu where you can get everything done at once. This leads to a bit of a disconnect. You’ll have to buy and place various workshops in your garage, and each one is used to upgrade your car. Really, the gameplay mechanics keep this from being an excellent game. Choppy graphics at inopportune times and lag on button presses can be infuriating when you’re in the middle of a race. While you do get used to them after a while, they take away from the realism.
- Robust Career Mode
- 250 different races
- 50 real-life cars to race with
- Lag on button presses in the menu and on the track
- Steep learning curve for each car
- Handheld mode can be especially choppy
Best Arcade Racing: Horizon Chase Turbo — Nintendo Switch
There aren’t many arcade racing games around these days, and that’s where Horizon Chase Turbo shines. It offers up 12 cups, 48 cities, 109 tracks, 31 unlockable cars, and 12 upgrades. You can play with friends and recapture that sweet ’90s nostalgia all from the comfort of your couch.
The biggest play mode on Horizon Chase Turbo is the world tour. You get access to 100 different courses in a dozen additional regions, including America, China, and Iceland, to name just a few. Each track has its own feel, and the graphics, while retro, are beautiful with green grass and bright blue skies. You don’t need to win each race to progress, but there is significant replay value. Snagging the blue tokens littered across each course and finishing in 1st place unlocks a special cup. If you do it on every course, there is even a special car waiting as a prize.
There are also different modes of play like Championship, Endurance, and Playground modes. While there isn’t an online mode, you can play multiplayer locally with up to three other players for split-screen fun.
- Great handling of every car
- Awesome retro graphics
- Courses all over the world
- Learning how to win can take time
Best for Fans of F-Zero: FAST RMX
Source: Shin’en Multimedia
It’s been many years since Nintendo has blessed us with a new F-Zero game. Luckily, other developers feel the same way, and no game has come as close to matching F-Zero’s speed and difficulty like FAST RMX. Race through a sci-fi world at breakneck speeds in your anti-gravity vehicle and test your skills in this fast-paced arcade racer.
Immediately, you’ll notice that Fast RMX looks good — so good that you’ll wonder what black magic Shin’en Multimedia employed to get this game to look as good as it does on the tiny Nintendo Switch. Running at 1080p at 60 FPS, it’s hard to pick a racer that looks better on the hybrid console. Fast RMX’s speed is off the charts, and you may struggle to keep the pace over the game’s 30 tracks. There’s also local and online play with up to 8 players, and split-screen multiplayer with up to four players.
While this game is excellent, the downside is that it was a launch title, which means it’s been on the system for the better part of three years. Because of that, the online community is sparse and has since moved on to other games. Another thing to consider is the game’s difficulty. It’s hard, AI is ruthless, and the speed might be too fast for some. But if you’re a fan clamoring for another F-Zero game, then this one is for you.
- The closest thing to a new F-Zero game
- Looks great on the Nintendo Switch
- An incredible sense of speed
- Split-screen multiplayer
- High difficulty
- Online community is pretty dead
Best for Fans of Drifting: Hotshot Racing
Source: Curve Digital
To me, racing is all about the drift. If I can’t drift the length of a city block without flipping my car or bursting into flames, then what’s the point? If you’re looking for an arcade game with an emphasis on drifting, look no further than Hotshot Racing.
Hotshot Racing is a love letter to older arcade racers of the past. Helmed by racing game veterans SUMO Nottingham and Lucky Mountain Games, Hotshot Racing combines tight racing controls, gorgeous old-school 3D graphics, and great environments to drift through. Choose from eight drivers and drift for the gold. All of the classic race modes, like Time Trial and Grand Prix, are included, as well as Cops and Robbers and Drive or Explode. Whatever mode you choose, you’ll be going fast and looking good while you’re at it.
While there’s a lot to enjoy in this package, the downside is that the tracks start to become repetitive, as you have to race through them again and again to complete challenges to unlock customization gear. But it’s hardly a blemish on Hotshot Racing’s immaculate record. This game is good all around and is a must-play for arcade racing fans on the Switch.
- Drifting feels amazing
- Gorgeous retro graphics
- Smooth as butter on the Nintendo Switch
Best for Single-Player: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is a remaster of 2010’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and it’s never looked better. Like Burnout Paradise, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit’s visuals have been upgraded, the DLC has been included, and the races run smoother than ever. In this game, there’s less emphasis on crashing, and more of one on the chase. Play as an outlaw or a cop in some of the fastest cars available.
There’s a fully defined single player career that allows players to play as both the law and the lawbreakers, while also linking the multiplayer modes. In this remaster, there’s a focus on the Autolog, which connects you and your friends in head-to-head pursuits and races and delivers challenges based on your friends’ activities. There’s also cross-platform multiplayer, so you can keep up with friends no matter the platform.
This a great mode for racers who prefer a longer, in-depth story mode. And with the inclusion of all the DLC, you’ll find a lot to unlock. The downside, however, is that the game looks good but looks a lot better on other consoles.
- Excellent single-player experience
- Lots of content to unlock
- Cross-platform multiplayer
- Looks better on other consoles
Crossing the finish line
All of these games have earned the title of best Switch racing games and are fantastic and fun picks. Don’t forget to grab an extra Switch controller so you’ll be ready to race with your friends. Still, our favorite amongst the bunch is definitely Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It delivers tons of fun alone or with friends and brings a healthy dash of nostalgia paired with updated graphics, gameplay, and mechanics. With dozens of characters, options to customize your Kart to peak efficiency, and plenty of new tracks to memorize, you don’t want to sleep on this one. It’s the most fun you can have with a racing game on Nintendo Switch.
If racing cartoony mascots isn’t your thing, we recommend Burnout Paradise Remastered. With its cinematic crash and multiplayer, there’s always someone new to race and a new challenge to crush. It looks good on the Switch, and runs at a smooth frame rate. Plus, it includes all of the DLC, which is always a nice bonus.
We would be remiss if we didn’t also recommend Team Sonic Racing. This is one of the finest racing games on any platform, and is one of the best on the Nintendo Switch. A fun cast of Sonic characters, multiple paths to the end, and a focus on teamwork gives this game an extra layer of depth one might not expect from their arcade racer. You shouldn’t miss out on this racing gem, especially when it comes bundled with an old-style Sonic sidescroller.
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