Though no game ever achieves loving praise from 100% of those that play it, Mario Kart 8 has been the recipient of plenty of compliments in reviews to date. What truly matters for Nintendo, however, is that buzz about the release will not only make it a must-buy for Wii U owners, but also entice other gamers to pick up the system.
Nintendo UK's 'Mario brand manager', Roger Langford, has spoken to MCV about the upcoming title; with the UK previously referenced by Satoru Iwata as a market where improvement is needed, there's no doubt even greater pressure than normal on the kart racer. To start with the sales pitch, Langford made the fair assessment that the racing series is one of Nintendo's strongest brands, often providing some of the best experiences on each respective system.
Mario Kart is one of our killer titles. Looking back at Super Mario Kart and then moving through the ages, you can see how integral Mario Kart is to Nintendo hardware. It always brings out the best in whatever hardware it is on.
Super Mario Kart was one of the first two-player racing games out at the time. The N64 version was one of the first to allow four-player split-screen play. Then the DS version encouraged wireless download play, and Wii had its online functionality.
The Wii U entry is the first in HD, of course, while also including strong online options and video sharing options that represent another first for the company. While some major previous entries have failed to propel Wii U hardware sales in the way the company would hope, the Nintendo UK man is currently making positive, confident comments regarding MK8's prospects.
There are lots of tweaks in the game that on the face of it might not sound like much. But we are looking to seed these bits out to the core Mario Kart fans via our online and social media campaign, and get that word-of-mouth and buzz up to launch. So that when we get to release day, we have the big TV campaign to make the big splash, but also the fans are raring to go.
...I certainly feel that Mario Kart 8 can be the catalyst that will broaden Wii U’s horizons. It’s very important for us that we have a successful launch and continue the promotion throughout the year and beyond.
...That offer [a free retail download with each Mario Kart 8 purchase] lends itself perfectly to those people looking to buy into Wii U.
You pick up the Mario Kart 8 bundle, and you can also download Wii Party U or Nintendo Land if you’re getting it for the family, or if you’re a Mario fan you can get New Super Mario Bros U. We also cater for more core gamers, as well, with Monster Hunter 3 and The Wonderful 101. We are offering that variety because Mario Kart 8 does attract such a broad demographic.
Those of us keen to see the Wii U boost sales and secure a stable place in the current home console scene are undoubtedly hoping that Mario Kart 8 will catch on with a mainstream audience. Are you confident that the appeal of Mario Kart 8 — along with the buzz, bundle and free game promotion — will provide the first spark of a Wii U revival?