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Nintendo Revs Up Much Needed Hit with ‘Mario Kart 8’

Nintendo has a much-needed hit with “Mario Kart 8,” the latest installment in its racing franchise that lets players compete on a variety of tracks with the company’s iconic characters.

Released exclusively for the Wii U, the game sold more than 1.2 million units in Japan, Europe and North America over the weekend. The game was released May 29 in Japan, and May 30 in North America and Europe.

The sales figures make “Mario Kart 8” the fastest-selling game on the Wii U since the console debuted in 2012.

The “Mario Kart” franchise had sold more than 100 million copies up through the eighth game’s launch. And Nintendo is hoping the latest installment will help boost the profile of the struggling Wii U, which has lately been overshadowed by Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. “Mario Kart 8” also comes as Wii U owners have grown frustrated with a lack of new games to play on the console, especially high-profile new releases from Nintendo.

“Mario Kart Wii” (35.53 million) and “Mario Kart DS” were two of the bestselling games of all time for the industry.

“Mario Kart 7,” which bowed in 2011, sold 9.6 million units for the Nintendo 3DS handheld system.

“The early response to ‘Mario Kart 8’ demonstrates that the best days for Wii U are still ahead,” Nintendo of America president and chief operating officer Reggie Fils-Aime said in a statement.

Fils-Aime added that “Mario Kart 8’s” success is a “great place to start” as Nintendo preps its presentation at next week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, during which gamemakers will reveal their upcoming titles.

“This year’s E3 is just days away, and it will be all about the future games for Nintendo platforms,” Fils-Aime said.

In addition to adding several new characters and tracks, “Mario Kart 8” also enables players to revisit tracks from previous games rendered in HD for the first time.

Title has generated mostly positive reviews — “Mario Kart 8” is the 14th Wii U game to launch in the U.S. with a Metacritic score of 85 or higher, Nintendo said.

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