The best racing games on Nintendo Switch

For the racers that never want to stop, here are the best racing games on Nintendo Switch

Hot Shot Racing on Nintendo Switch

by Seth Walton |

A great man once said that racing is life, and anything before or after is just waiting. Well, with the Nintendo Switch, there is no before or after – the racing comes with you.

Today, a plethora of racing games are available on the Switch market, meaning users can take advantage of the console’s portability and race from dawn ‘til dusk, from the living room to the bus station. With the console box checked, the real question is: which racing game should you buy?

Purist racing gamers may turn their derisive noses up at racing on the Switch. It’s true, that the scaled-down performance of the console does impede the visual quality and driving physics of some real-world racing titles. You won’t find much hardcore simulation here, but there is still ample fun to be had on several arcade games, from the scintillating colours of Mario Kart to the retro charm of Hot Shot Racing.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch

For enthralling action presented in a glittering display of sound and colour, you can’t go much further than Nintendo’s in-house racing title. Mario Kart 8 made waves in the gaming world upon its release in 2014, praised for its balance of classic themes with fresh new ideas. Fast-forward to 2017, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch made much the same statement, only in a more refined package on the latest generation console.

This upgraded version carries all previous content from the last generation, including 48 racing tracks and 42 characters, as well as five battle modes to compete against your strangers around the world via Switch’s online platform. For cheery racing in stunning quality on the go, Mario Kart 8 is indubitably one of the best.

Note that Nintendo is still supporting this game - it's getting a swathe of new tracks in DLC drops, doubling the list with another 48 maps. You can purchase and download the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass here.

Hot Wheels Unleashed

Hot Wheels Unleashed on Nintendo Switch

We tested this arcade racer last year and were thoroughly impressed, commending the game for its colourful visuals and addictive gameplay, appealing to children and the children at heart alike. To read our extended review of Hot Wheels Unleashed, click here.

If you’re after a trip down a looping, orange memory lane then this is the racing game for you. Hot Wheels Unleashed showcases all the best in histrionic arcade racing, presented in a package of sweet nostalgia as you loop around a virtual living room. The 30 FPS framerate is consistent and truly impressive, with seamless fluid motion across an extensive list of true-to-life Hot Wheels cars, from an Audi R8 Spyder to the Street Weiner (hot dog car).

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered on Nintendo Switch

Need for Speed’s maturing thriller Hot Pursuit got the Nintendo treatment back in 2020, shortly after its release on the console's eighth-generation counterparts. After 10 years of adulation from fans, the game was due for a facelift to bring it into the modern-day, and it's now running at 1080p on a docked Switch and 720p in its handheld form.

Throughout the game, players progress through 78 racer events and 63 ‘Cop’ events – chasing down other racers – earning medals based on performance and unlocking new cars along the way. In terms of gameplay diversity, Hot Pursuit Remastered is not particularly varied – it really is a racing game in its purest form.

However, for a handheld device, the visuals and graphics are a real achievement, never faltering no matter the paces you put them through, so who cares if it’s race after race? We’re racing fans, aren’t we?

Related: The best Need For Speed games

Hot Shot Racing

Hot Shot Racing on Nintendo Switch

Hot Shot Racing is the blisteringly fast-paced arcade racer for Switch, channelling pure retro charm with its simple, low-poly graphics to hit all the right nostalgia buttons of the 90s arcade. Of course, the game has been brought into the 21st century with online multiplayer and customisation, but the throw-back value is undeniably there.

Players are pitted against each other in a Grand Prix racing around several tracks, focussing heavily on drifting to outmanoeuvre opponents – a skill that is tricky to pick up but equally as rewarding once mastered.

This game also grants players the ability to change their viewpoint, from a top-down view to the cockpit for a classic arcade feel. Want something more than classic racing? This game offers other modes to keep your eyes glued, such as Cops and Robbers or Drive or Explode – a mode which sees cars blow up should they dip below a certain speed, so best keep the right foot planted.

Running a different console? Best racing games on Xbox | Best racing games on PS5

Burnout Paradise

Burnout Paradise on Nintendo Switch

Like the Need for Speed title, EA remastered Burnout Paradise for Switch compatibility in 2020. As Paradise did for the first time in the Burnout series back in 2008, this game takes open-world racing to the Switch, dropping players into ‘Paradise City’ where they can engage in different races and game modes, or free roam throughout the day.

The necessity for the 60 FPS framerate becomes particularly clear during play, as racers are encouraged to shoot through the city at brain-scrambling speeds – the console just has to keep up. Paradise doesn’t have the same visual quality as Burnout – particularly lacking in darkness as the open-world suddenly disappears but for three feet in front of the headlights – though for open-world escapism in the palm of your hand and on the go, this is where it’s at.

Taxi Chaos

Taxi Chaos on Nintendo Switch

Taxi Chaos puts you in the driver’s seat of a classic yellow cab, dropping passers-by off around a fictitious recreation of New York in flamboyant and often perilous style. This GTA-by-Blue-Peter title rewards players for dangerous driving, commending you for dicey manoeuvres and daring hijinks, with more money received from your passenger at the end of the journey depending on how adequately you can thrill them.

Based on the layout and gameplay, Taxi Chaos is a spiritual successor to the Crazy Taxi series of around 20 years ago. Fans of the original may draw some issues with this revamp, as its slower pace misses out on some of the thrills of Crazy Taxi. However, with its bright visuals and rambunctious gameplay, Taxi Chaos remains a fun, light-hearted driving game on the Switch. If not for yourself, then particularly for a younger audience getting started with their first gaming console.

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