5 Racing Games for Switch That Aren’t Mario Kart
“Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is the gold standard in racing on the Nintendo Switch. Six years in, Nintendo continues to add courses and characters to the series highlight. But sometimes, a bit of variety from cartoon plumbers and dinosaurs can be nice—perhaps you’d like to race in real-world courses, or on a jet ski, or in a hovercraft or even as a giant orb. Fortunately, the Nintendo Switch and this article have got you covered. So, grab the best controller you can and read on for five-ish great Nintendo Switch racing games that aren’t “Mario Kart.”
Released in fall 2020, “Inertial Drift” is a nail-biter you’ll have to play to really understand. Featuring carefully rendered, tight courses with lots of twists and turns, the game demands quick reflexes and careful tuning at a moment’s notice. “Inertial Drift” sports a novel dual-stick control scheme, where the left stick steers and the right adjusts the car’s drift. Master this game’s controls through multiple modes, including endurance, time attack and ghost battle. While the small selection of courses here is dwarfed by other racing games on the Switch, the game offers local and online multiplayer and runs under $20—sometimes, with discounts, significantly under—in the eShop.
“F-Zero X“ and “Wave Race 64“
Here’s a two-for-one. The Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack not only entitles you to free DLC for modern games, including bonus tracks for “Mario Kart,” it also continues to pack in classic content from past Nintendo consoles. And if you can get on board with the dated graphics, these two late-’90s releases for Nintendo 64 offer thrilling gameplay even today. The first, “F-Zero X,” boasts more than two dozen courses and vehicles in a high-wire balance of driving offensively and defensively. Each race, there are 29 other racers on a track suspended above a futuristic city. Your goal is to be the last one standing. This “F-Zero” game is one of the only places modern gamers can play as Captain Falcon (now probably better known from “Super Smash Bros.”) in his original context as a hovercar racer, as the franchise hasn’t had a new installment in almost 20 years!
Alternatively, get off the road and into the water with the lighter, arcade-driven “Wave Race 64,” a jet skiing racing game. Race through ocean scenery with variable weather while getting big air and landing tricks for high scores. It’s pure, uncomplicated fun.
Side note: As we mention in our roundup of classic Nintendo games you can play on the Switch, there’s another racing game you can play with your Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription—a little title called “Mario Kart 64.”
Want another zany kart racer featuring a different slate of weapons and cast of characters? “Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled” is a remaster of the original PlayStation game, so if you’re a Nintendo console loyalist or weren’t gaming in 1999, this loving update is a great opportunity to see what the fuss was about. Play as original developer Naughty Dog’s characters like Crash Bandicoot and his sister Coco, the diabolical scientist Dr. Neo Cortex or the villainous marsupial-reptile hybrid Dingodile. (Fun fact: Naughty Dog is better known now for developing the “The Last of Us” franchise.) “Crash Team Racing” features a story mode with very challenging races that require chaining well-timed drifts, boss battles that tinker with the format of the core kart racing genre and bonus content from other games in the “CTR” franchise.
EA’s “Need for Speed” street-racing series comes to the Switch in the form of this remastered gem. Race through country roads and city streets while evading capture by the authorities in a massive open world featuring real-world vehicles. But here’s the twist: You can either race with the bad guys or play as the cops trying to shut down the dangerous street-racing ring. Experiment with power-ups, practice your timing and race through the more than 100 events in the game’s core campaign. Often discounted on the Nintendo eShop, “Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered” also features online play for up to eight people, including cross-platform play, so you can compete with racers on the PC, PlayStation and Xbox versions of the game.
This one might be the weirdest! The sequel to a 2013 iOS game, “Super Impossible Road” is set in space. You race on a different track every time. And you play as an orb. According to the publisher, “you’ve got to play a little dirty if you want to win races.” The courses, which procedurally generate against backdrops of swirling galaxies or blazing suns, feature tight turns and unpredictable shortcuts, so learning when to go into free fall from one of the ribbon-like race tracks is important for the single-player campaign, and essential for the up-to-eight-player online mode.
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