NASCAR Heat Ultimate became available on the Nintendo Switch last Friday, marking the first NASCAR game to make its way to the new console. The game is available for 39.99 on the Nintendo Shop, but some are worried about whether it is worth it. In fact, after the huge failure that was NASCAR: ignition, one must wonder if NASCAR video games are as good as dead.
There’s good news and bad news. For those wondering about whether NASCAR video games are dead. The answer to that question is probably a resounding yes. Not only is that evident by the fact that NASCAR ignition is barely playable, but also due to the sports ailing popularity among those in mainstream culture. It’s just not something big enough to warrant a great game.
NASCAR heat Ultimate for the Switch offers fans a bit of a compromise. The first is graphics, which don’t look as good as they do on the Xbox and PlayStation, but the game is playable. You can compete in a fully functional career mode that allows you to work your way up the ladder or jump right to the top as a Cup Series driver.
The second thing you are compromising on is new content. Essentially, there is no real new content that was added to the game. The games commercials show that it has 2021 season content, but that doesn’t include the tracks that were added to the schedule. The only difference is that Bubba Wallace Jr’s car and a few other teams become available by selecting the 2021 season content.
Once you look past those two things though, you start to see a viable alternative. Beyond the career mode, there’s a season mode, a championship mode, a paint booth mode, and lobbies to race other NASCAR fans in. There is also a plethora of settings that essentially lets you choose your experience as you go and is very forgiving on beginners.
Going back to the career mode, which is what a lot of NASCAR fans judge the games on these days, and there is a lot of interesting things to do. For example, if you want to jump right to the Cup Series, the game allows you to do that. The only trade-off however is that you will only be offered 3-star rides that will be hard to get to the front of the pack.
And that’s where the fun comes in! Here you will be forced to either use your bumper liberally, use pit strategy, or drive a specific line to make up every point you can. If you manage to finish top 20 in your inaugural season, you will be offered a four-star ride that will have you at the front of the pack on a much more consistent basis.
As for the controls, it takes a while to get used to them, but they do eventually become comfortable. You use the ZR button to accelerate, the directional pad to steer, and can even choose to have automatic transmission. Keep in mind that tracks like Daytona, Atlanta, Texas, and Kentucky will be difficult to steer enough at first, but that will change once you get more comfortable.
In the end, it’s not perfect and no one is expecting it to be. Fortunately for NASCAR fans wanting to relieve a positive period of NASCAR video games, it does a good enough job. It might not come up to the levels that we were spoiled with when it came to NASCAR 2003, 2002, and Dirt to Daytona, but it is enough to keep fans occupied until something better comes.