There are a ton of great kart racing video games out there and we wanted to pick out a few titles that you might be interested in. In this list, we have ten recommendations for you. With that said this list could have easily turned into a ton of Mario Kart recommendations because that’s one of the more popular kart racing video games of all time. However, we’re sticking with just three installments that differ from each other in that franchise. The rest are other fun titles worth looking into.
#10 Mario Kart Tour
It was a bit of a surprising move to see Nintendo get interested in the mobile market in terms of smartphone applications. However, when they did unveil their intentions of bringing out their IPs to the likes of Android and iOS, one of those franchises happened to be Mario Kart. Mario Kart Tour was first released in 2019 and it controls rather great. Sure it takes some time to get used to the controls but it’s pretty seamless to understand. A simple swipe will unleash your power-up along with taps and holds steer the vehicle into the desired direction. Nintendo made the game a bit easy to grasp for just about everyone. Now with it being a mobile game there are in-app purchases and they can be a bit overwhelming but at the very least it’s a game that you don’t necessarily have to sink money into to play casually. Likewise, it’s free to play game so there’s no reason not to give this title a try.
#9 Kirby Air Ride
Kirby even had a bit of a kart racer back in the day with Kirby Air Ride. This game put players racing around with different Kirby characters across several different maps. Now, this was a Nintendo GameCube title where Kirby could zip around the track without having players pushing a single button to accelerate. However, to make turns players would need to hold down on a button to brake. It was different and players were given the usual power-ups from the iconic Kirby franchise to use against competitors on the map. You’ll even find a top-down racing game mode as well which was something a bit different than the usual third-person courses from the main game. However, what might have kept players going through the title was the fact that there were so many objectives to compete in races. These would eventually unlock certain content into the game such as new stars for Kirby to race around with. Likewise, these stars had their own attributes so it did give reason to unlock as much content as possible.
#8 Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix
Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix is a game that might appeal to fans of the network and the various characters from the game. It has the typical tropes that you’d expect from a kart racer but is skinned to feature different characters from various Nickelodeon shows. As a result, you’ll find characters from Hey Arnold, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Spongebob to name just a small handful. Unfortunately, don’t go in expecting voice acting here but again, it’s a title that you can have some fun playing through. With just under thirty characters and courses to go through, you’ll find a good bit of variety here. Meanwhile, the races themselves have various power-ups that players can obtain to use against their opponents. As you’ll race and gain the in-game currency, players can use the funds to purchase different upgrades for their vehicles so you’re not strictly dealing with the stock build of a kart the entire time. You’ll even find that there’s a play on adding a crew to your racer which can be activated to further offer buffs throughout the race.
#7 Beach Buggy Racing
Beach Buggy Racing is a kart racer that hit not only console platforms but also iOS and Android as well. Again it’s exactly what you would expect from a kart racing video game title where you’re barreling down different themed levels. You’ll have different power-ups to pick up and fire at your opponents while also striving to reach the boss battles that will have players racing against said boss in hopes of unlocking them within the game. There’s the ability to customize your car and make necessary upgrades as well. Likewise, you’ll find that each character has a unique power that they can trigger once per race so you’re always armed right from the start of a race but knowing just when to use it will be key here. There is a sequel out there as well if you enjoy this game which right now you’ll find for about $10 across most platforms outside of smartphones in which case you’re looking at a free-to-play game.
#6 Mario Kart Live Home Circuit
Another Mario Kart game that has made the list is Mario Kart Live Home Circuit. It’s a different type of Mario Kart game and the latest installment to have been released so far at the time of writing this description. Within this game, players are given a physical RC car and the necessary components to make their unique course within your home. From there, the vehicle is controlled by your Nintendo Switch in which case the game brings out an augmented reality Mario Kart experience. You’ll race within your home while virtual opponents and power-ups will pop up on the track, much like a traditional Mario Kart title. While this is a bit of a fun experience to go through it does make things a bit limited to those that may purchase this game. For starters, you’re limited in how far you can travel by the RC car in your home away from the Nintendo Switch. Likewise, you need a good amount of space to make a course appealing to play. Then there’s the task of actually setting this course up and taking it down when you’re wanting to play the game. If those don’t seem like deterrents then this might be a title well worth picking up.
#5 ModNation Racers
Do you remember ModNation Racers? It was a big of a hit or perhaps a hidden gem at this point for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. The video game was a thrilling kart racer where not only did you have the variety of tracks, racers, and power-ups to pick from, but there was a ton of creativity here as well. Players could create their characters, customize their vehicles, and even make levels to race around in. This was something that could be done not only by tweaking everything yourself including the terrain elevation, but you could even allow the game to generate content as well so there was plenty of content here for players to go through. One of the aspects that made this game a bit unique compared to some of the other competitors out there was the fact that players could drift and build up a meter during races. Through this meter, the player could initiate a boost or bring out a shield to protect themselves against attacks from other racers. Unfortunately, this game didn’t live on with a new installment, but there’s always hope that Sony will dust this IP off and bring it back out once again.
#4 Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Sonic has a few different kart racing games out there but we opted for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed as it comes with not only the various characters from the Sonic franchise but other Sega character IPs as well such as Crazy Taxi, Super Monkey Ball, Space Channel 5, Alex Kidd, and Shinobi just to name a few. You have a variety of themed courses as well from these games to race around in but what you might find of interest is the fact that the races will transform the vehicle depending on the terrain they are racing around in. Players may be racing around in a car, boat, or plane as they progress through the laps. Meanwhile, as you can expect there are different weapons that you can obtain as you race around as well to send out to your opponents.
#3 Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
When Nintendo was dominating the kart racing scene with Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing offered a competitive alternative on the PlayStation. Of course, that didn’t pan out as well but it had a strong following. Fortunately, years later the game was remade for modern platforms such as the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One platforms. Not only did we get a revamp in visuals for the courses but plenty of improvements as well. If you don’t recall the original game, this is a kart racer that has again the usual tropes from what you would expect from a traditional kart racing game. However, the title was centered around the Crash Bandicoot franchise to race against. With Crash Bandicoot making a resurgence with the likes of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, those of you who haven’t given Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled might be missing out on some thrilling gameplay.
#2 Diddy Kong Racing
Developers Rare took on the kart racing genre for the Nintendo 64 as well with Diddy Kong Racing. This was a game very much like Mario Kart 64 at the time, but what was different was the line of characters players could race around in. Within the game, we had a storyline for players to go through which followed Diddy Kong and his friends racing against different bosses to defeat an evil wizard pig named Wizpig who was attempting to take over the world. Here we are once against racing around courses where players can collect power-ups to either act as a boost or an attack against an opponent. Unlike some of the other games, there were clear markings of what powers were on the level and upon collecting the same power-ups the player would be given a stronger alternative such as a bigger boost or more rockets to fire at against an enemy. Furthermore, players were able to race around the different levels in either hovercrafts, planes, and of course karts. While this title was a big hit for the Nintendo 64, Rare was eventually bought by Microsoft which ended the planned sequel for the Nintendo GameCube.
#1 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Lastly, the biggest kart racer out there right now that has players joining online to compete against other players and friends is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Released initially in 2014, Mario Kart 8 was a big hit for the Nintendo Wii U but unfortunately, the console platform itself wasn’t much of a success. As a result, Nintendo went in and made a few enhancements and characters to bring out Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch. This is just a classic Mario Kart experience with a wide range of levels, iconic characters, various kart customization options, incredible visuals, and a great soundtrack wrapped up in a very well-done entertaining package. You can’t get much better than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe right now and while it’s a port of the Nintendo Wii U version, this game still holds up incredibly well today. Fans are now waiting to see if Nintendo will bring out a successor to this game or even DLC to further give more content on the Nintendo Switch, but for now, the base game is all we have and it’s incredibly easy sinking countless hours in this game.