Here’s some good news from the venerable, if beleaguered, house of Nintendo: Wii U exclusive Mario Kart 8 sold 1.2 million units over the course of its first weekend, making it the best-selling game on the strange little console so far. At Forbes, reviewer Andy Robertson had nothing but good things to say about the game, calling it a “Golden Bullet” and awarding it a rare 10/10 score. From his perspective, this fresh take on an old fan favorite represents Nintendo’s best chance at reversing the Wii U’s fortunes.
“The early response to Mario Kart 8 demonstrates that the best days for Wii U are still ahead,” Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aime said in a statement. “This year’s E3 is just days away, and it will be all about the future games for Nintendo platforms. This milestone is a great place to start!”
That makes Mario Kart 8 the latest entry in a strange narrative that’s emerged over the past year or so with Nintendo’s Wii U: the console continues to flail in the face of the much-hyped Ps4 and Xbox One even though it clearly has a deeper and more enjoyable game catalog than either content-weak system from Sony or Microsoft. If you take your chances with the strange tablet controller, or you’re even aware that the Wii U is a distinct game console, there’s plenty of fun to be had with titles like Mario Kart 8, Pikmin 3 and even Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze.
Mario Kart 8 helped raise Wii U console sales by 666% in the UK, according to GFK Chart-Track. The game took #2 for the week, coming in behind Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs.
Even with great games like this, however, it can be hard to feel that the Wii U’s narrative isn’t already more or less written — especially with Nintendo missing the E3 press conference for another year. The PS4 has clearly demonstrated it’s place as the market leader, and both Sony and Microsoft know that they’ve got to bring a very impressive show to E3 to start building momentum for the all-important second holiday season. Nintendo will have games to show off as well, I’m sure, but it’s got a tough row to hoe against those companies’ extensive first and third-party support. Mario Kart 8 is a great game, but this company needs more system-sellers and fast to give the Wii U something like a chance.