We know, we know. Mario is awesome at everything, especially kart racing.
His line of racing games brings joy and heartbreak to whomever gets their hands on them. Nintendo has put out a constant stream of enjoyable Mario Kart games that never seem to falter in quality. But some gamers tend to think that the Italian plumber’s kart racing games are the only good ones. You’d be sadly mistaken if you thought the same way. A bunch of famous gaming characters have also taken to the race track and presented great kart racing offerings, too. We want to shine a spotlight on those cool and quirky racers that would appeal to the Mario Kart crowd. You’re gonna love this one! Start your engines as we count down 11 awesome kart racing games (that aren’t named Mario Kart).
11. LittleBigPlanet Karting, Platform: PS3
This spiritual successor to ModNation Racers takes content creation to a whole ‘nother level. Sackboy and his band of cute buddies hop in all types of vehicles and race over imaginative tracks. The best part? You get to craft your own characters, karts, tracks etc. Go ahead and make your own Rainbow Road, if you want to. We’re sure it will resemble the real thing.
10. Konami Krazy Racers, Platform: Game Boy Advance, iOS
When the Game Boy Advance finally launched, its first kart racer didn’t have the name Mario attached to it. Konami got first dibs on the kart racing genre for the system with this little gem. We never knew we wanted a kart racing game starring Goemon, Cyborg Ninja, and Vic Viper. We’re glad Konami fulfilled this unknown need of ours.
9. Mickey’s Speedway USA, Platform: N64, Game Boy Color
Hey, don’t laugh! This Disney-themed kart racer was actually a solid title. Everyone knows Mickey and his animated pals, so it makes a hell of a lotta sense to feature them in a cute kart racer. There isn’t much challenge to speak of for this game, but that’s a small gripe. We just had a swell time racing as Mickey and bumping Donald Duck off the road. That’s always a good time…
8. Motor Toon Grand Prix 2, Platform: PSOne, PSN
So Japan kept the first edition of this racer. Then we got the sequel. Nice tradeoff, huh? Anyways, we love this game. Before Polyphony Digital were developing serious racing simulators, they were crafting cartoon-centric racers. The visuals are still a joy to look at and the feeling of speed is just right. You like fast? Then play this toon racer.
7. Wacky Races, Platform: Dreamcast, PSOne, PS2, Wii, Game Boy Color
The famed animated cartoon series was adapted into a fun, cel-shaded racer. Dick Dastardly, Private Meekly, and Big Gruesome took over the road with their iconic vehicles. The rest of the gang joined the ride, too. The audio was quite faithful to the source material it was derived from. The voice actors made sure to raise your nostalgia levels when they voiced the zany cast of characters made famous by the cartoon.
6. Speed Freaks/Speed Punks, Platform: PSOne
While everyone who owned an N64 had the untouchable Mario Kart 64 keeping them occupied, PSOne owners had a unique kart racer of its own. Speed Freaks/Punks hosted a bunch of spiky haired avatars who drifted over a bunch of endearing tracks. The controls take some getting used to, but it’s all worth it in the end. Good luck hunting a copy of this rare racer down.
5. ModNation Racers, Platform: PS3, PSVita
The creative types who love to showcase their own content in a video game flocked to this one. Everything from tracks, karts, sticker designs etc. could be created amongst a host of community created items. The actual kart racing itself is solid, but the main pull here are the creation modes. Check out the PS3/PSP versions of the game and we’re sure you’ll find a utopia of user created content.
4. Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Nintendo DS, iOS, PC
This game had no right being so good. Sega surprised everyone when they released this super slick racer. Some of Sega’s most memorable (and not so memorable) characters came outfitted with their own tailored vehicles. The tracks and All-Star attacks added so much extra charm to this game. Sonic shouldn’t race in a car cause he’s just as fast on his feet? So what! Suspend your disbelief for a second and just enjoy this racer.
3. Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed, Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PSVita, PC
When Sega went back to the drawing board for this sequel, they ended up outdoing themselves even more. Gamers now had the option to take to the skies in jets or hop in boats for water racing. More iconic Sega faces made an appearance and a slew of better tracks entered the fold. The World Tour mode added plenty of replay value this time around. That Golden Axe stage is so epic! Diehard Sega fans will spot all the cool nods to their favorite video game developer/publisher in this game.
2. Diddy Kong Racing, Platform: N64, Game Boy Color
Some gamers hold this kart racer in a higher regard than the Mario-themed racer. Yeah, it’s that good. That’s probably because the game came with a long spanning adventure mode that tasked players with searching for well hidden secrets. The boss races were infuriating at times, but the cute roster and car/boat/plane hybrid vehicles kept us pretty happy.
1. Crash Team Racing, Platform: PSOne, PSN
Crash Bandicoot was the man back in the day. His platform games made the PSOne a serious contender and gave the console a worthy mascot. Crash was embroiled in a beef with Mario and the N64, so Naughty Dog threw the guy into a kart racing game. Crash Team Racing turned in a fine performance. Adventure Mode was awesome, the racing mechanics were rock solid, and Crash’s personality and quirks shined through. We owned Nitros Oxide!
Image: Sony Entertainment