While the Nintendo Switch lacks the raw processing grunt of the Xbox One and PS4, petrol heads have been increasingly well served on the hybrid console, with a steadily growing catalogue of fantastic racers that offer plenty of arcade thrills and spills — and you can do it on the move. Give it a try on your next Uber ride; it’s so much more immersive!
To help you keep on top of all those releases, we’ve rounded up the best racing games on Switch – in no particular order – to help you avoid going off-road (unless that’s what you’re after, of course). The following racers showcase different facets of the genre and are all worth a look if you need a racing fix on your Switch.
To avoid any grumbling, we should note that the racing (or driving) genre is a broad church, with games such as Mario Kart obviously very different in nature from GRID Autosport. Some games in our list feature motorbikes, some have a top-down perspective and others have combat — from baseball bat to blue shell — but the objective of getting to a finish line in the shortest possible time is common to them all.
So, in no particular order, let’s take a look at the best racing games on Switch…
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Let’s get the most obvious and essential Switch racing game out of the way first. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe delivers a huge amount of racing goodness right out of the box, and it’s a polished version of a Wii U entry that was only a proper Battle Mode away from being top of class. Now that issue has been addressed, what we have is arguably the best Mario Kart release ever seen.
It’s the definitive Mario Kart 8 experience, content-rich and a delightful feast of comedic, cartoonish karting action. It’s a game that continually raises a smile and, occasionally, induces that trademark Mario Kart rage as shells strike and positions are lost. It’s addictive and unifying, unfiltered fun that draws in anyone daring enough to take up the wheel.
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Publisher: Shin’en Multimedia / Developer: Shin’en Multimedia
FAST RMX is as good as the Wii U original and then some. Updated visuals, more tracks, more vehicles; it was an utterly outstanding launch title for the Switch and it holds up very well to this day, keeping the futuristic high-speed racing game alive in the absence of F-Zero. It’s not quite the same, of course, but with the console’s ability to allow multiplayer on the go rolled in, this is without doubt essential for racing fans with a Switch.
Publisher: Curve Digital / Developer: Lucky Mountain Games
If the look of Hotshot Racing appeals to you and you can appreciate the aesthetic delights of something that looks deliberately low-fi and polygonal, the action it offers on the track does an excellent job of backing up the game’s style with substance. It may have its quirks and it may turn you into a paranoid conspiracy theorist ready to tell tales of rubber-banding to anyone who’ll listen to you, but hey: that just adds to the authenticity of the era it’s based on. This is a fine racing title that truly nails its driving mechanics and delivers an exhilarating experience that will captivate newcomers and veterans alike.
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: SEGA
This is about as essential a retro release as you can get. An inspiration for the excellent Horizon Chase Turbo further down the page (although the Top Gear games are arguably a bigger influence there), Out Run may lack modern spit polish but it has always been an infinitely playable game, and the new unlockables and online rankings only increase its longevity further. Those with the 3DS version will have to decide whether it’s worth buying what’s more or less the same game again in order to play it on their TV, but for everyone else with an interest in retro gaming, it’s a must-have.
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive / Developer: Pixel Dash Studios
When it all comes together, Road Redemption can offer some of the most thoroughly entertaining and over-the-top racing action you’ll find on the Switch. It’s a little rough around the edges and the performance could have done with a little optimisation prior to launch, but when a game’s as downright fun to play as this is, that’ll always be the overriding factor. The wait’s over, Road Rash fans: this is the modern spiritual successor you’ve been waiting for all these years.
Publisher: SEGA / Developer: Sumo Digital
Taken on its own merits, Team Sonic Racing is a fun karting game that doesn’t quite match Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in terms of either performance or sheer level of content, but still offers satisfying handling and should still keep Sonic fans entertained for a while. It’s impossible not to compare it to its predecessor, though, and in all the areas where Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed excelled, Team Sonic Racing is merely competent. It may not be standing on any karting game podiums years from now, but if you’ve somehow exhausted Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or you’re a super fan of the blue blur and his motley crew, this is an alternative worth investigating.
Publisher: Electronic Arts / Developer: Criterion Games
Elements of Burnout Paradise are starting to show their age now, but nobody can argue with the quality of its actual racing action. If you can put up with its various niggles and quirks and don’t mind the high price tag (relative to other systems), it’s easily one of the most entertaining – and certainly one of the fastest – racing games on the Switch.
Publisher: Activision / Developer: Beenox
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is a visually phenomenal upgrade on a PlayStation karting classic, and one that faithfully recreates both its positives (its unique drift boosting system) and its potential irritants (30fps, tricky AI). It does bring a whole new set of issues – mainly lengthy loading times and the fact that playing offline stops you making any progress towards unlocking anything – but while these prevent the game from becoming an absolute must-have, they don’t sour the experience enough to stop us wholeheartedly recommending it regardless.
Publisher: Milestone / Developer: Milestone
The MotoGP series has been a bit of a mixed bag over the years, but MotoGP 20 begins to realise Milestone’s vision for a full-bodied racing simulation. The considerable Career mode offers a deep management experience, while the introduction of Historic Mode adds a fun way to earn rewards for daily challenges. But it’s the changes to on-track performance and the deeper bike mechanics that make this a truly realistic, if not particularly penetrable, experience. With impressive overall presentation and a nice stable frame rate, this is a worthy addition to Switch’s garage of racers.
Publisher: Arc System Works / Developer: Arc System Works
Gotcha Racing 2nd is an generous slice of retro racing content with hidden depths; one you can play for two minutes or two hours and always have incredible fun. There is no single winning car combination so you will constantly keep coming back to get new parts and customise your four different designs in order to shave off seconds in the Grand Prix tracks and the game might even turn out to become a party favourite with your friends. Additive, fun and bursting with content for a sensible price, we recommend this second outing of overhead racing extravaganza even if you missed out on the first game.
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