Best Racing Games for Nintendo Switch iMore 2021
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
- Best Value: Gotcha Racing 2nd for Nintendo Switch
- Best Motorcycle Racing: Road Redemption
- Best Physics Defying Races: GRIP: Combat Racing — AirBlades vs Rollers Ultimate Edition
- Best Realistic Racing Game: Gear.Club Unlimited 2 (NSW) — Nintendo Switch
- Best Arcade Racing Game: Horizon Chase Turbo — Nintendo Switch
- Best for Fans of F-Zero: FAST RMX
- Best for Fans of Drifting: Hotshot Racing
- Best for Crashing: Burnout Paradise Remastered — Nintendo Switch
- Best for Single-Player: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered
- Best for Realistic Motorcycle Racing: MotoGP 21
Best Overall: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe — Nintendo Switch
Mario Kart is easily one of the most popular games that Nintendo has ever put out. There's no way you could talk about the best Switch racing games without bringing Mario Kart into the mix. 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.
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.
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. No other racing game on Nintendo Switch 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: Gotcha Racing 2nd for Nintendo Switch
Sometimes players want a simple and fun racing game that cares more about gameplay than graphics. That's where Gotcha Racing 2nd shines. It offers up 16 different courses with four different modes of play. Plus, it has 700 different parts that let you customize your car. With simple graphics, it's a fun game to dive into.
Controlling your car is deceptively simple, with single buttons controlling acceleration, brakes, and a horn to agitate your fellow drivers. However, to rise to the top of the pack, you'll need to take advantage of both acceleration and brakes to drift through windy turns. Once you unlock special chassis, pressing the X button will activate a special boost. This could mean going faster when you need it through the straightaway, but it comes with a disadvantage while it recharges. This adds a layer of strategy to each race.
As you play, you'll gain in-game currency to unlock new parts for your car. These fall into three basic categories: body, engine, and tires. With 700 different parts to unlock, it gives you nigh on endless customization options for building the perfect car for your playstyle. You can also split-screen with up to three other players at a time, and every race is open for play. Multiplayer offers up three of its own modes of play, including battle royale, minicourses, and the same courses you're used to from single-player.
- 700 different parts to customize your car
- 16 courses
- Four different modes of play
- Simple graphics
Best Motorcycle Racing: Road Redemption
In a world gone mad, motorcycle clubs rule the road. When an assassin takes out a cartel leader, a bounty is put on their head and everyone, including you, wants to earn that payout. Hunt down the mark with your gang, fighting through rival and friendly territories wielding whatever weapons you can find, and maybe you'll be the victor in the end. Road Redemption is an action racing game with an RPG style skill tree, over a dozen different brutal weapons, and a motorcycle fighting system. Plus, it has 4-way co-op, so you can take to the road with friends. It's a brutal game not meant for kids.
While there is a plot to Road Redemption, it honestly doesn't matter much. You'll find yourself racing through the territory of three different motorcycle gangs on procedurally generated levels that finish with a boss. The gameplay doesn't change, though. You'll have access to 15 different riders as well as four different classes of weapons during gameplay: melee weapons, swords, guns, and explosives. Your goal is to win the race, and for the most part, the easiest way to do it is by kicking, punching, and knocking other bikers off of their hogs.
Road Redemption also delivers six different modes of play. Standard races where you want to finish first, Takedown where you knock other racers off their bikes, time trials, boss battles, and a quick-play mode. There is technically an online mode, but it doesn't seem very popular, making it difficult to find people to race.
- Cool skill tree lets you pick your skills
- Plenty of different weapons
- Brawl opponents on your motorcycle
- A mature game not meant for kids
- A loose plot that doesn't matter much
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
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
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
- Repetitive gameplay
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 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
Best for Realistic Motorcycle Racing: MotoGP 21
MotoGP has maybe never been the most consistent series, but for those looking for realistic racing on two wheels, not many can beat what the game has to offer. Play as more than 120 official riders, race over 20 tracks, and experience unprecedented levels of realism. MotoGP 21 features an extensive career mode, giving you the option to join an official team or letting you build one from scratch. Build a team around you to assist you on your journey to front of the pack.
Gear heads will appreciate all the factors, both big and small, that are factored into every race. Manage your fuel, the temperature of your breaks, and the wear and tear of your wheels, and make changes based on the weather and conditions of the race. It's an immersive experience that looks really good as well, both on TV and on the Nintendo Switch's screen in portable mode.
Of course, the game is meant for enthusiasts and if you're not willing to learn the ins and outs of motorcycle riding, you might find the game too difficult and too overwhelming to handle. But if you're looking for a realistic racer and you prefer motorcycles over cars, then you can do no wrong with MotoGP 2021.
- Excellent career mode
- Lots of different bikes and racers to choose from
- Unprecedented realism
- Steep learning curve
- 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 Hotshot Racing. This is one of the finest racing games on any platform, and is one of the best on the Nintendo Switch. Outstanding graphics, excellent controls, and a focus on drifting gives the game an extra layer of depth one might not expect from their arcade racer. You shouldn't miss out on this racing gem.
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