When it comes to kart racers, there's one undisputed king of the crop on Nintendo systems, and we're not talking Crash Bandicoot. Let's not kid ourselves here - we all know what's sitting at number one on the list below of the best (and worst) kart racers on Nintendo Switch. With a record like Schumacher in his prime, it's a wonder that any other racers bother to turn up to the track at all with a certain moustachioed plumber so far ahead of the pack.
Still, there are a whole bunch of kart racers on the Switch starting grid, and while the winner might be a foregone conclusion, there's plenty of drama to enjoy in the lower ranks. Therefore, we've assembled this ranked list of the best kart racing games on Switch (well, all the kart racing games on Switch, actually) to help you sort the promising upstarts from the total non-starters.
If you've got racing in your veins, be sure to check out out selection of the best Nintendo Switch racing games (with or without a kart) and find out how many of the kart racers below survive against the more serious racers on Switch.
So, start your engines and prepare yourself for the best kart racing games on Nintendo Switch, presented in descending order...
Kicking things off with a real hairball, we always knew Garfield was something of a rebel, but taking a bad six-year-old game, making it even worse to play, pretending it’s a sequel and charging Switch owners more than double the price to suffer it is some pretty subversive stuff. The original Garfield Kart is extremely cheap on Steam: considering Garfield Kart Furious Racing is a more broken version of the same game, you might as well buy that instead. Even if you don’t have a PC, you’ll have wasted less money.
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There are far worse games out there than Nickelodeon Kart Racers, but there are far better ones as well. Given the tremendous opportunity represented by this IP, it’s hard not to be disappointed by the state of Nickelodeon Kart Racers; with more attention to quality and another year of development, this could’ve possibly been a compelling alternative to Mario Kart. Unfortunately, Nickelodeon Kart Racers is simply not good; derivative mechanics, a pathetic character roster and awful performance make this a bargain bin experience that you’ll be glad you missed. If you absolutely have to play a racing game with Nickelodeon characters, then by all means, go ahead, but we’d highly recommend you take a pass on this sorry effort.
We like Hello Kitty as much as the next guy, but unless the next guy's 7 years old they're not going to be able to squeeze much fun out of Hello Kitty Kruisers. Nothing it does is particularly terrible (other than its odd drifting mechanic), but everything's so slow and so easy that a huge proportion of the Hello Kitty fanbase will be bored to tears within the two short hours it takes to unlock everything. Cats and karts seem to be an unpredictable mix, that's for sure.
Putting our opinion on the cynical Ryan phenomenon to one side, Race With Ryan is nevertheless a slightly below-average kart racer that handles reasonably well but generally underwhelms, from the pitifully small number of tracks to the uninspired, floaty-light weaponry. Give your kids a Mario, Sonic or Crash racer instead; they may be young, but they aren’t stupid.
Another cat-filler karter, Meow Motors won't blow your socks off but it's a decent little racer if you're a cat person who enjoys drifting. It's not going to trouble the kart-racing big boys, and the visual feedback is lacking when it comes to using projectile items, but drifting is fun and if for some reason you're bored of the obvious Nintendo-branded alternative and you see this cheap, you could do a lot worse. The 2-player mode may keep you occupied for a while after the campaign's over and, generic presentation aside, we certainly didn't have a bad time in the company of these felines (which can't be said for Garfield or Hello Kitty), even if we knew we could be having it so much better elsewhere.
All-Star Fruit Racing takes a unique karting weapon system, throws it into a blender with some cute presentation ideas and an unfortunate series of technical annoyances, and ends up with a pretty mixed bag as a result. This is a competent racer, and there’s just about enough content to make you want to keep playing, but it never realises the potential that it could have had and doesn’t really stand up to the heights that other titles can offer. It’s just a little on the weak side to justify its asking price, so bear that in mind before jumping into a fruity purchase.
Combining crazy physics and an even crazier story scenario, Coffin Dodgers has managed to do just enough to stand out from the crowd, offering a decent little kart-racer that should generate a laugh or two. A slight lack of content and a less-than-perfect overall quality prevent it from being something worth shouting about, however, so you might want to consider your options before jumping in with an immediate purchase.
Beach Buggy Racing is a decent kart-racer; the driving is fun, the items are bonkers, and you’ll likely be playing it for some time. Perhaps enjoyed best in small bursts, and without the expectation of it being a mega-serious racer, the game does offer some easy-to-play fun for both solo players and groups of family or friends. It can’t steal Mario Kart’s pole position and it suffers from a couple of little niggles but for a fraction of the price it does offer an acceptable alternative.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is a startlingly authentic "mixed reality" recreation of Nintendo's most popular racing series which encourages you to be inventive with your course designs and does an excellent job of combining your real-world surroundings with the fantasy environments of the Mushroom Kingdom; add in a second player (or three, or four) and it becomes even more compelling. The tech side of things is undeniably impressive and it's impossible to not raise a smile the first time you play; the question is how long that magic will last, especially if your home limits your track designs and you've only got the budget to cover the cost of a single car. It's a wonderful, if impractical, karting novelty.
After the disaster that was the first game, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix is a remarkable turnaround. With far more Nickelodeon series represented, improved track designs and a power-up customisation feature that lets you enhance your personal racing style, Nickelodeon Kart Racer has gone from one of the most disappointing racing series on the Switch to probably the best one that doesn't feature plumbers or hedgehogs.
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. By no means a bad game, then, but when we look back years from now it won’t be standing on any karting game podiums.
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.
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.
What do you mean you knew Mario Kart would be at number 1? Well, aren't you a smart cookie. Yes, the winner was never in doubt, but as you can see there are some great alternatives if you ever get bored of the same dude winning the race over and over again. Let us know how this grid of competitors stacks up for you with a comment below.
This article is one of our Switch Essentials guides which cover a wide variety of genres, including the Best Switch FPS Games, the Best Switch RPGs, the Best Switch Games For Kids, the Best Switch Couch Co-Op Games and the Best Switch Fitness and Exercise Games. We can also help out hunting down the Best Switch Horror Games, the Best Switch Racing Games, the Best Switch Action-RPGs, the Best Nintendo Switch Roguelikes, Roguelites and Run-Based Games , the Best Free Switch Games, and even Games to Play After You've Finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Whatever your favourite genre, we've got you covered: Strategy Games, Metroidvanias, Puzzle Games, Party Games, Online Multiplayer Games, Shmups, Fighting Games, Hidden Gems, 2D Platformers, 3D Platformers, Sports Games, Beat 'Em Ups, Chill Games, Family Games, Retro-Inspired Games, Short Games, and the Best Switch Exclusives, as well as Every Arcade Archives Game, Every ACA Neo Geo Game and Every SEGA AGES Game On Switch.
If you're looking for the best Switch games regardless of genre, our reader-voted selection of the Best Nintendo Switch Games should help you out, and you can also find the Best Nintendo Switch Games of 2017, 2018, and 2019. And finally, if you're interested in other Nintendo consoles and retro games, check out the Best Game Boy Games, Best Nintendo DS Games, Best Nintendo 3DS Games, and the Best GameCube Games, as well as Every Nintendo Switch Online NES Game and Every Nintendo Switch Online SNES Game.