Mario Kart 8 launched in May, and if you don’t have a Wii U, you may be experiencing some serious kart envy. Mario’s racing career has produced a long line of amazing games, and from one look at the latest title, it’s easy to see why this one is no different.
Not interested in purchasing a Wii U to get in on the action? Or have you already beaten Mario Kart 8, and you’re looking to chart a new kart racing course? Either way, there are great games waiting for you on a wide variety of platforms. Snag a power-up and put the pedal to the metal in these 3 great kart racing options.
Blur (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Though Mario Kart’s genre is called kart racing, go-karts are by no means a required part of the equation. Kart racers are about pick-up-and-play arcade style racing with weapons and power-ups that sow chaos on the tracks. Blur delivers on both of those counts, but replaces the usual wacky vehicle selection with licensed vehicles from real manufacturers like Ford, Nissan, and BMW. The game pulses with a slick urban street racing style, complete with rival racers to crush and racing fans to impress. And those fans aren’t just for show. Not only will you fight to keep your speed and aim your weapons, you’ll also face fan challenges in your races. You might know you can nab first place, but can you do it while showing off by slaloming through a path of neon gates? Pull it off to unlock tracks and cars even faster than you would by winning the race alone.
If you’re looking for a more social experience, the game also supports four player split-screen multiplayer, making it a great title to break out for a night of competitive play in the living room. This is especially important for an older game like Blur, in which you’re no longer likely to find many (if any) players still racing online.
Blur is available on PS3, 360, and PC, but no longer for sale digitally. Check your local used game retailer for a copy.
ModNation Racers (PS3, PSP)
During the life of the PS3, Sony launched an initiative called Play, Create, Share. Its goal was to highlight games that put an emphasis on user-generated content to keep gamers playing long after they had completed all of a game’s included challenges. ModNation Racers was one of two kart racing titles in the program (the other being LittleBigPlanet Karting), and it’s generally considered the better of the two. It has a great single-player story mode with wisecracking characters, and an innovative power-up system that lets you choose between firing off weapons frequently and patiently stacking item pick ups for more powerful effects. As far as multiplayer is concerned, you’re likely looking at four player local multiplayer only for this 2010 release. Don’t expect to see many racers online.
If you’ve ever wanted to design your own race tracks, karts, and drivers, Modnation Racers is for you. Track design is as simple as driving the route as you lay out road behind you. Once you’ve completed your circuit, tinker with track widths, weapon placements, and shortcuts. Then decorate the surroundings to your liking, or auto populate them and get down to racing. Kart and driver customization is similarly impressive, and with the game’s system of layered decals, you can cover your car in cool, professional looking designs.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Need a kart racer with the same serious star power as Mario Kart? This second and latest entry in the Sonic & All-Stars Racing series is stuffed full of characters from the speedy hedgehog’s lore, as well as those from other famed Sega franchises like Super Monkey Ball, Crazy Taxi, and Jet Grind Radio. You’ll race through tracks with routes on land, sea, and air as your vehicle transforms to match the terrain ahead.
Star power isn’t the only thing Transformed has going for it though. Single player racing includes standard tournament play, as well as a campaign that lets you take on a wide variety of challenges one race at a time. You might need to drift along a specific lane of the track to build up time extensions in one stage, then zig-zag through busy traffic patterns in the next. It adds some much-needed variety to the game, as well as a rewarding sense of progression as you unlock new drivers. The game supports local and online multiplayer too, and as the youngest of the recommended games, you may still find competitors to race online at certain times, depending on the platform you choose.
Though this article describes the PC and console versions, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is available on PS3, 360, and Wii U, as well as Vita, 3DS, PC, iOS [No longer available], and Android [No longer available]. Pricing and features vary by platform. If you don’t have at least one device that runs it, it’s probably time for a technology update!
The Wii U does have some strong available and upcoming games, but if you’re considering picking one up solely for Mario Kart 8, make sure you try one of these racers first. You may not need to purchase a brand new console to scratch your itch for kart racing fun.
Do you play Mario Kart 8? Is it making you proud to own a Wii U? State your case for our community in the comments!
Prefer realistic racing games? Check out these sim-style racers for PC!