Which Nintendo Switch racing game is best?

Racing games have come a long way from the arcade-only cabinets that used physical wheels and pedals. Today, there are dozens of subgenres, all with their own quirks that dazzle or devastate the racing game fan. Not all games are available on any system, with the Nintendo Switch exclusively having one of the best racing game series of all time: Mario Kart. 

The latest in the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, has 48 tracks and 42 playable characters, with the track count doubling by the end of 2023.

What to know before you buy a Nintendo Switch racing game

Entertainment Software Ratings Bureau ratings

The ESRB is the North American office that applies content ratings so parents can make informed decisions when buying Nintendo Switch games for their children. There are four ratings.

  • Everyone: Look for an “E” on the box. These games are suitable for anyone of any age.
  • Everyone 10+: Look for an “E10+.” These games are a little more complex or may feature content that the especially young may not be ready for.
  • Teen: Look for a “T.” These games feature content parents may not want their non-high schoolers to see. In racing games, this typically means suggestive content and mild foul language.
  • Mature: Look for an “M.” These games have content similar to what you’d find in an R-rated movie and are meant for adults only. Few racing games have received a mature rating.

Racing game types

Racing games fall into a few sub-genres, with the most popular being party, realistic and simulation.

  • Party racers are designed for multiple people to play together and are packed with cartoonish actions such as dropping banana peels on the track to trip up opponents.
  • Realistic racers use real-world vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, boats and even planes. However, these games rarely use real-world physics to keep the action cranked to 11.
  • Simulation racers use real-world vehicles too, but they’re designed to be as accurate as possible. Some simulation racers are so detailed they can accurately simulate a falling raindrop.

What to look for in a quality Nintendo Switch racing game

Multiplayer

The best Nintendo Switch racing games have multiplayer support. This can be local, online or both.

  • Local play means everyone gathers around the same TV to play together. Everyone playing will need their own controller.
  • Online play means connecting with friends or strangers. A paid Nintendo Switch Online membership is required for online play.

Amiibo support

Some Nintendo Switch racing games have Amiibo (a special kind of mini-figure with a scannable chip inside) support. Scanning this chip can unlock unique items or let you save a recording of yourself racing that a friend can scan on their system to race against.

How much you can expect to spend on a Nintendo Switch racing game

Most Nintendo Switch racing games cost $60. Older physical games can cost as little as $30, while downloadable-only games on the Nintendo eShop may cost as little as $10. Hard to find racing games can cost $100 or more.

Nintendo Switch racing game FAQ

Can I buy digital versions instead of physical Nintendo Switch racing games?

A. Yes, most racing games you can find on store shelves have a digital version. Many retailers offer codes for purchase that you can input on your Switch to start a download — otherwise, you can purchase it directly in the on-system shop, the Nintendo eShop. 

When buying digital copies, keep two things in mind: you can’t refund or resell them, and digital copies of older games can be more expensive than physical copies.

Are Nintendo Switch racing games region-locked?

A. No, Nintendo Switch racing games are not region-locked. If, for example, you bought your Switch in North America and buy a game while vacationing in Europe, everything will work seamlessly. 

Region-locking is an older policy by which software and hardware from different regions are designed not to be compatible. The reasons for region-locking include combating piracy and preventing gamers from importing cheaper copies.

What’s the best Nintendo Switch racing game to buy?

Top Nintendo Switch racing game 

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

What you need to know: This is the king of racing games on Nintendo Switch.

What you’ll love: New content will be added through the end of 2023. Up to four people can play together locally or you can play with people online. A Smart Steering mode helps younger children control their character.

What you should consider: A few consumers found online gameplay to be unstable at times. Most courses and characters need to be unlocked through gameplay.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Nintendo Switch racing game for the money

Burnout Paradise Remastered

Burnout Paradise Remastered

What you need to know: Give this a spin if you’re looking for a more realistic racing experience.

What you’ll love: Burnout Paradise lets you drive real cars and motorcycles while exploring a fully open world. Other modes include standard races and a competitive chase mode called “Cops and Robbers.” All of the downloadable content from the original release is included.

What you should consider: The original version of Burnout Paradise was released in 2008, so some gamers may find the gameplay outdated.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

What you need to know: Build your own courses inside and around your home with this unique blend of physical toys and video games.

What you’ll love: The game file is a free download, so all you need to get racing is a starter set which includes multiple course-making pieces and one physical kart driven by Mario or Luigi. The kart’s camera lets you see your home from its perspective while you race.

What you should consider: Everyone who wants to play must have their own Switch, copy of the game and physical kart. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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