After The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Nintendo Switch already has its second big hit, and it’s a game that didn’t get a chance to shine due to the underwhelming performance of the publisher’s older Wii U system.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sold 459,000 copies on its launch day of April 28, according to Nintendo. That’s enough to make it the fastest-selling release in the racing franchise’s history. This is also another example of how the Switch, Nintendo’s hybrid home/handheld console, is keeping up with the landmark Wii system, because the previous fastest-selling Mario Kart was the 2008 Wii version that did 433,900 on its launch day. Mario Kart Wii, which was one of a handful of games that many Wii owners purchased to go along with Wii Sports, went on to sell 36.95 million copies.
For Nintendo, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a second chance to give that game an audience. It debuted on the Wii U in Mary 2014. While it went on to sell 8 million copies, which makes it the best-selling game for that platform, it is the worst-seller in the series since the GameCube.
The racer is also an opportunity to maintain the Switch’s momentum. That system debuted in March with Breath of the Wild, which I called the best game Nintendo has ever made. The latest Zelda received stellar reviews from across the game media. Combined with word-of-mouth and a devoted fan following, this helped Zelda and the Switch become the fastest-selling launch game and console in Nintendo history. Now, the publisher has followed up that impressive roll out with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in April, and its sales are proving that consumers are still willing to pay money for new content on that platform — even if it’s a rerelease of an older game.
That’s a positive sign for upcoming releases like Minecraft, Ultra Street Fighter II, Arms, and Splatoon 2. Nintendo is now looking more like it has enough new games to get it through the summer and into the release of Super Mario Odyssey this fall, which is a game that could have Zelda- or Mario Kart-like success.