Racing games were among the first to find a home on modern touchscreen devices, reinventing themselves for buttonless hardware without sacrificing the sense of speed, competitiveness or high-end visuals. Rev up your engines and brace yourself for full throttle because it’s time to round up the best of these titles on iOS and Android.
EA’s Real Racing series has been pushing boundaries and defying expectations in the mobile racing sector since day one, and its third instalment is no exception. This is an ultra-realistic driving simulation that gives some home console racers a run for their money.
Real Racing 3 boasts online multiplayer and tonnes of customisation options, but its headline features are the jaw-dropping visuals and authentic physics. You’ll marvel as the other cars’ reflections shift across your Ferrari’s paintwork and the sun’s ray bounce off the windshield.
If the racetrack isn’t your thing, you can ditch it for a series of waterways in Riptide GP: Renegade. Vector Unit’s jetskiing series has been making waves on mobile for a while, and its latest entry is the pick of the bunch.
There’s a palpable sense of speed as you zip across the waves, performing death-defying stunts along the way. The water effects are excellent, the multiplayer options plentiful, and there’s also the opportunity to make a splash flying solo in the campaign mode.
We now live in an age where Super Mario Kart on mobile is more than just a pipedream. Nintendo is in the process of bringing its popular racing series to iOS and Android devices, but thanks to Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing’s app store presence, the wait is bearable.
For the uninitiated, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is basically a Sonic the Hedgehog-themed alternative to Mario Kart, with similarly-colourful graphics, a cast of classic video gaming icons, and drift-centric gameplay, and it loses none of its appeal on touchscreen hardware.
Gameloft’s Asphalt 8: Airborne is more about high-octane thrills than realism, so if the idea of turbo-boosting your vehicle off the side of a cliff to pip your rivals to the finish line is more appealing than doing laps around a track, this could be the game for you.
Airborne may be several years old, but it still holds up as one of the best arcade racers on the app stores.
Need for Speed: No Limits offers a middle ground between the breakneck thrills of Asphalt 8 and the authenticity of fellow EA series Real Racing. No Limits features stunning, console-grade visuals and realistic vehicle handling, but races are accessible and arcadey.
In many ways, it’s a stellar racing experience, though the free-to-play business model is bound to irk some. There are times when the game tugs too aggressively on your purse strings by pitting you against races that are staggeringly difficult to win without spending money. Perhaps a more appropriate title would have been Need for Speed: Yes, Limits.
It’s time to switch to a different gear because the next game on our list doesn’t involve any playable races. Motorsport Manager Mobile 2 is essentially the Formula 1 equivalent of Football Manager Touch.
The game is an in-depth simulation of the sport, in which players take charge of their own racing team. You’ll hire drivers, fire them if they can’t handle life in the fast lane, strike up deals with sponsors, and more.
If you like your racing games with a side helping of flamethrowers, missiles and mayhem, Death Rally could be the game for you. It’s a top-down drive ’em up where you’ll spend as much time killing off the competition in various over-the-top ways as racing them to the finish line.
Developed by Max Payne studio Remedy Entertainment, Death Rally may be light on tracks but there’s plenty of longevity to be found in the sheer volume of upgrades and weaponry available.
Kairosoft has made a name for itself creating accessible simulation games with cutesy sprites for mobile, and Grand Prix Story 2 is its second attempt at applying this concept to racing management.
In a nutshell, it’s a casual alternative to Motorsport Manager Mobile 2, in which players are tasked with building a motor racing team from scratch, acquiring sponsors and winning as many competitions as possible.
Trials Frontier combines the addictive gameplay of the bike racing series’ console instalments with a unique art style and Wild West-inspired backdrops. The result is a compelling social racing experience with accessible touch controls and a metric tonne of content to consume.
Long before authentic driving sims were a thing, the arcade racer dominated the genre, and if you’re nostalgic for the days of OutRun, Horizon Chase: World Tour will whisk you back to a simpler time.
With its stylish retro visuals and synth-rock soundtrack, Horizon Chase is a delightful homage to coin-op classics but it zips along just as smoothly and is no less challenging than the other third-person racers on this list.