Nintendo's Wii U console arrived a full year ahead of next-gen systems from Microsoft and Sony. Launch week sales were promising but by mid-2013, sales had collapsed and remained stagnant through the first half of this year.

By all accounts, Nintendo's Wii U was a flop.

Down but not out, the storied Japanese gaming company turned to its stable of beloved characters including Mario and Link for a second wind. The culmination of Nintendo's Wii U comeback hit stores on Friday in the form of Super Smash Bros., the first new console game in the franchise in six years.

And just like that, Nintendo is back in the race.

Nintendo executive vice president of sales and marketing, Scott Moffitt, told Fortune that he expects this holiday season to be the company's biggest in years. The executive added that Nintendo's Wii U hardware business is up 47 percent compared to last year; software is up 84 percent.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter expects Nintendo to sell four million copies of Super Smash Bros. worldwide.

Nintendo won the previous generation console race but they're trailing thus far in the new console battle. The company has only sold 7.29 million systems to date worldwide which puts it just behind the Xbox One at 10 million consoles shipped and far behind the PlayStation 4 at 13.5 million units moved.

It's clear that Nintendo will need to continue to lean on its in-house franchises to remain relevant among next-gen consoles. Fortunately, there's no shortage of fan favorites.