Best Games Like Mario Kart

Mario Kart is one of the most recognizable racing series around and has managed to maintain its popularity over the years by introducing new gameplay mechanics as well as a plethora of racers and tracks based on first-party Nintendo franchises.

The game’s straightforward controls and gameplay make it appealing to a broad audience of players ranging from casual gamers to hardcore kart racing purists.

Consisting of eight mainline games spread across various Nintendo handhelds and consoles, Mario Kart has solidified its presence as the premier kart racer. However, there are still plenty of options for scratching that kart racer itch, even for those who prefer to game on a non-Nintendo platform. 

Here, we’ll be highlighting the best games like Mario Kart to try if you don’t own a Nintendo Switch or simply want something new. Make sure to check back as we continue to update this list with new games and while you’re here, consider reading through our other curated lists:

Related:Best Nintendo Switch Games 2020Best Games Like Mario PartyBest Indie Nintendo Switch Games 2020

Table of ContentsShow

While it may not include cameos from anyone in the Mushroom Kingdom, Team Sonic Racing is still a satisfyingly fast-paced kart racer that finds smart ways to incorporate Sega’s mascot character Sonic and the expansive universe he inhabits. The game also happens to be a significant step up from its predecessor, 2012’s Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, in several areas.

For one, the roster is a lot smaller, with random additions like Wreck-It Ralph and Danica Patrick removed in favor of a more Sonic-focused cast consisting of 12 racers along with a collection of 21 tracks based on iconic locations from throughout the series.

Kart customization goes beyond Mario Kart’s standards, allowing players to adjust various aspects of their kart’s appearance, ranging from materials and paint color to adding stickers and different wheel types.

The CTR games have always felt a lot more technical than Mario Kart when it came to driving and boost mechanics. Still, the series carries a great deal of nostalgia for anyone who grew up on the PlayStation family of consoles. CTR: Nitro-Fueled remains faithful to its source material in this regard, maintaining the original cast and driving controls while adding some quality of life improvements to the PS1 classic.

Among these is a modified HUD that makes the boost gauge more readable for novice players as well as the ability to swap between characters mid-story. Characters and environments were rebuilt from scratch and appear more vibrant and animated than ever before. While it’s more tactile controls will take some time to adjust to if you’ve only ever played Mario Kart, once you’ve got it figured out, the game becomes a lot more enjoyable. 

If you’ve ever felt let down by the lack of cat representation in Mario Kart (Cat Peach doesn’t count), rest assured Meow Motors is the game for you. This indie kart racer sees you playing as one of 12 ferocious felines whose unique personalities and special abilities will keep you grinning as you compete in races across three modes: circle races, drifts, and strike.

Like Mario Kart, tracks are littered with an assortment of power-ups and items designed to help get you in front of the pack or, at the very least, annoy your opponents. What really makes Meow Motors stand out from all the other B-tier kart racers is the quality of its presentation. Racers have detailed backstories and charming designs that are further complemented by 20 vibrant tracks and a bombastic soundtrack.

Super Indie Karts is a throwback to retro kart racers of the 1990s and, as a result, shares many similarities with earlier MK entries like Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64. This is most evident in the graphical department, with the game employing a mix of 2D sprites and low-poly 3D art to portray its massive roster of racers and tracks.

Where Super Indie Karts has Nintendo beat is in racer and track diversity, boasting 30 playable characters and over 40 tracks, all of which are based on existing indie game series such as Cross Code, Aegis Defenders, Mutant Mudds, ToeJam & Earl, and many more. The game also includes a variety of modes you would expect in a kart racer such as Grand Prix, Time Trials, and Battles as well as local split-screen support.

Beach Buggy Racing 2 is a no-frills kart racer that includes all of the amenities Mario Kart fans have come to appreciate, minus the Nintendo mascots. The game sees 1-8 players competing on an assortment of themed-tracks ranging from sandy Egyptian pyramids to massive dragon-inhabited castles and everything in between.

It’s a much more polished product than the original Beach Buggy Racing, which had a habit of living up to its “buggy” namesake for all the wrong reasons. The sequel introduces special abilities for each racer, as well as an array of interesting items you won’t find in Nintendo’s kart racer.

All in all, BBR2 is a solid pick for a Mario Kart substitute that’s sure to appeal to a wide demographic of players.

If you’re enough of a madman to play Mario Kart on 200 CC chances are you’ll enjoy Trailblazers, a fast-paced arcade racer whose devs describe it as “F-Zero meets Splatoon.” The game’s core mechanic revolves around painting parts of the track with an assigned team color. Doing so rewards you and your two teammates with a speed boost when driving over the painted area.

Of course, enemies can do the same as well and can even paint over any areas you’ve claimed as your own. This encourages players to work together to cover as much ground as possible as they try to outsmart their opponents. Its co-operative nature ends up making Trailblazers feel a lot more dynamic than your average arcade racer, with no two races playing out precisely the same.

Maybe you don’t come to Mario Kart for racing but rather the opportunity to annoy your friends by spamming them with items that cause them to spin out and shake their fist in frustration as you leave them in a cloud of dust. Well, if that’s the case, why not try another game that lets you abuse your opponent both figuratively and literally.

Road Redemption is a spiritual successor to the Road Rash series that sees you racing against other players while engaging in brutal melee-based combat while driving a motorcycle.

The game features dozens of different weapons such as pipes, baseball bats, and the occasional wrench, all of which can be used to deliver a satisfying blow to your enemy’s head. This is accompanied by a surprisingly deep combat system with grabs, kicks, and counters that can be enhanced via a skill tree. 

If you enjoyed the gravity mechanics introduced in Mario Kart 8, then you’ll more than likely get a kick out of Grip: Combat Racing, which gives racers the freedom to drive upside down, on walls, ceilings, and pretty much anywhere else your tires will fit. In addition to standard vehicles, Grip includes an assortment of futuristic-looking antigrav racers like those you’d see in a Wipeout or F-Zero game.

However, it’s not for the faint of heart, often going out of its way to make the on-screen action as high octane as possible by swapping out Mario Kart’s spiky blue shells in favor of homing missiles and machine guns that will leave more than just a scratch on your enemy’s car. This is further complemented by a variety of demanding racetracks with enough loops to make you dizzy and a heart-pounding dubstep soundtrack.

Continuing with the vehicular combat theme, Burnout Paradise Remastered is an enhanced version of the ridiculous arcade racer from 2008 and arguably the best entry in the Burnout franchise (Burnout 3: Takedown comes in at a close second). The remaster introduces a host of technical and visual enhancements such as new Day/Night time cycles while maintaining the layout of its well-crafted open-world.

Paradise City has plenty to offer in terms of exploration, providing players with a massive sandbox filled with hundreds of miles of roads and underground paths in addition to a plethora of hidden shortcuts, ramps, and billboards just begging to be driven through.  You’re free to cause as much mayhem and destruction as you want while driving over 70 different vehicles, way more than any Mario Kart game.

Imagine if you took Mario Kart’s Battle Mode, removed the objectives, and added soft-body vehicle damage modeling; that’s essentially Wreckfest in a nutshell. Inspired by the chaos of demolition derby races, the game sees you cruising around huge arenas searching for your next victim. The goal is to put every other car out of commission by any means while making sure your engine keeps ticking.

Of course, there are different modes which offer more traditional style races. Still, if you’re playing Wreckfest, chances are you want to cause as much destruction as possible.

There’s always a method to all the madness, with Wreckfest featuring tight controls and superb car handling capable of rivaling more serious racing sims like F1 and Forza Motorsport.

As great as Mario Kart is, we have to acknowledge a clear lack of fruit representation throughout the series. Other than those cursed banana traps, there simply aren’t enough power-ups and items for players to sink their teeth into. Enter in All-Star Fruit Racing, a kart racer that’s not afraid to show its appreciation for a well-balanced diet.

Jokes aside, the game manages to incorporate some fun new ideas in what would otherwise be a run of the mill kart racer. For one, racers can pull off unique fruit-based maneuvers by combining different fruits they collect along the track. These serve as the game’s power-ups and can provide various offensive and defensive abilities based on the fruits used, giving you the freedom to experiment with different strategies. 

While it may not be out just yet, KartRider: Drift is already looking to give Mario Kart a run for its money with promises of free to play without any paywalls, cross-play support, and in-depth kart/character customization. The game will serve as the successor to 2004’s Crazyracing KartRider, which was also free to play and remains quite popular in South Korea still to this day.

It contains all of the trappings of a Mario Kart inspired game: cartoony graphics, a plethora of madcap tracks, and an array of power-ups that help out in a pinch. KartRider: Drift made its debut during Microsoft’s X019 event and is expected to release sometime this year.

You Might Like These Too

Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.