Last year around the same time, I covered NASCAR 21 Ignition, which was released on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. I talked about the history of NASCAR video games, their rise & fall, and their current state. There's more information in the first impression but in short, Motorsport Games holds the rights to NASCAR and tried to revive several branding, including Heat to questionable results. Eventually, it decided to rename itself Ignition, releasing on all previous generation consoles save for one. Missing from the lineup was the Nintendo Switch, which is where NASCAR Rivals comes in.
Without beating around the Busch (ha ha), NASCAR Rivals is the same exact game as NASCAR Ignition from last year except released on the Switch. Effectively a watered-down port, most of my thoughts and criticisms from the previous year will also be copied and pasted here. Upon playing the game, however, for a Switch racer, it's not all that bad. The same courses appear in Rivals as well as an updated roster based on the ongoing 2022 NASCAR season. In fact, the game is advertised as the Official 2022 NASCAR game of the year. Huh.
So what about those on the PS4, PC, and Xbox you're wondering? Well, they still have NASCAR Ignition of course! Except it's running on a DLC model that adds the 2022 season, roster, and liveries as post-release content. I'd imagine that the "post-release content' will mirror the exact content released on Rivals, essentially re-releasing the same game twice yet having the Switch catch up to the older title.
That is one unique way to ensure that Nintendo Switch owners can go on par with other consoles, but I already determined that NASCAR Ignition was a paltry game lacking sustenance. If the "watered-down" port is essentially based on a lackluster NASCAR title, then players and fans of NASCAR will taste nothing but water. The interesting cockpit view with the crew leader debriefing the racer before each race is gone and replaced with a basic uninteresting menu. The animations pre-race are the exact same no matter the course as well.
The game handles pretty okay, surprisingly with a full roster of forty cars on the field at any given time. The problem is that the sound is jarring, with the crowd noises constantly skipping, the engine noises overlapping despite the player being nowhere near other cars, and the occasional frame rate drop. You could "create a driver," but the graphics don't do it justice up close. From a distance, it looks fine until you notice the jaggies and low-resolution graphics.
I would only recommend this to the extreme die-hard NASCAR fan who only happens to own a Switch. If you own multiple consoles, this is a hard pass as Ignition already exists and this doesn't add anything new to the table. Earlier this year I had a chance to look at Wreckfest and I said it was one of the better racing ports on the Nintendo Switch done right. Perhaps look towards that title for inspiration if you want to see a port "done right."
It's literally the same game but a different HUD. That's the gist of it.
NASCAR Rivals is available on the Nintendo Switch. NASCAR Ignition, the game it's based on, is available on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.