In the magazine business, the Back Page is where you’d find all the weird goofs that we couldn’t fit in anywhere else. Some may call it “filler”; we prefer “a whole page to make terrible jokes that are tangentially related to the content of the mag”.
We don’t have pages on the internet, but we still love terrible jokes — so welcome to our semi-regular feature, Back Page. Today we imagine the phone call that might have taken place when Microsoft called Nintendo…
Fantastic exclusive scoop, folks: We at Nintendo Life have received a transcript of a phone call between Microsoft’s Phil Spencer and Nintendo of America’s Doug Bowser, shortly after the announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. How did we get it? Don’t worry about it. Why did our source send it to Nintendo Life, and not somewhere that writes about Microsoft? Don’t worry about it.
Our scene begins in the Redmond offices of the Xbox Gaming division of Microsoft. Phil Spencer is marching down a hallway, heading for a door with a sign on it that says “Phil Spencer’s Room, No PlayStation Fanboys Allowed”. Yes, this was in the transcript. Stop asking questions.
[Phil Spencer slams his door and slides the “AVAILABLE” sign to “IN A MEETING”. He sits at his gigantic desk and picks up his Master Chief Funko Pop.]
PHIL: Marjorie, hold my calls for the next two hours. And cancel all my meetings.
MARJORIE: All your meetings? What about Viva Piñata 3 at 11? I thought you were excited about tha—
PHIL: Cancel it.
[He picks up the phone and speed-dials “1”.]
PHIL: Let’s do this, John.
DOUG: Yello, Douggy B speaking.
PHIL: Doug! It’s Phil.
DOUG: Phil, I’m pretty busy today, I don’t have time for a Smash match—
PHIL: It’s not that. It’s… well, you saw the news?
DOUG: The ActiBlizz thing? Woof, yeah. Was that Game Pass money?
DOUG: Nice. But what does that have to do with Nintendo?
PHIL: Not much, am I right?
DOUG: Hahahaha yeah imagine Call of Duty on the Switch
PHIL: Hahahaha Crash Bandicoot in Smash Bros
DOUG: But seriously…
PHIL: Well, I’m deadly serious about this, Doug. With Activision, Blizzard, and King pulling in even more money for the Big X, we’re going to have to find things to do with all that cash.
DOUG: Go on.
PHIL: Remember that time you laughed us out of the room when we offered to buy Nintendo?
DOUG: I wasn’t there, but I heard about it.
PHIL: Well, that was 20 years ago. And now… I have a new business proposition for you, and this time, you’re not going to laugh. Because, Doug… we could unite our forces. Nintendo and Xbox, against Sony. Red and green versus blue. Think of the things we can do together.
DOUG: You’re offering to buy Nintendo.
PHIL: We could rule the world together.
DOUG: You’re hoping to throw enough money at a 150-year-old video game company that we’d agree to be owned by Microsoft.
PHIL: For lots of money.
DOUG: Nintendo basically invented you.
PHIL: You should hear me out, Doug! Especially now we’ve got a massive stable of ActiBlizz games. Think of the metaverse opportunities.
[Doug is doodling Peach in a Mini Cooper.]
DOUG: I am a fan of the metaverse, Phil, it’s true.
PHIL: So, here’s my pitch. And I’m going to give it to you in a few handy bullet points, because we are businessmen and we love bullet points.
DOUG: Oh my god, Phil, I love bullet points.
PHIL: Remember that time you put Mercedes Benzes in Mario Kart?
DOUG: I’d really rather not.
PHIL: Imagine that. But it’s every sports car from the past 50 years. And Mario is driving them. Picture this: Yoshi in a Bugatti, dropping banana peels out the window. Shy Guy’s got the top down in a 2010 Audi TT. Bowser’s gunning it in a Ford Mustang, and Waluigi’s got a lurid purple Jaguar E-Type.
DOUG: Uh huh. I’m taking notes.
PHIL: Bullet point the second: We could share Chris Pratt.
DOUG: Oh, I love Chris Pratt. He is very funny. [laughs]
[Phil scratches out the words “gritty Guy Ritchie heist movie: Chris Pratt as Clippy?”]
PHIL: I love his movies about the man who has one personality trait and a six-pack!
DOUG: Me too! But that’s more of a deal for you, isn’t it? I mean, we already have him.
PHIL: Oh. I guess so.
PHIL: Then, erm… Oh! You can integrate Microsoft characters into Smash Bros. Cortana, Ori, the dog from Fable 2…
DOUG: The last thing Masahiro Sakurai said to me was “never say the words “Smash Bros” and “new characters” to me again”, so I don’t think that’s likely.
PHIL: Sure, sure. Yeah. Well… Tell you what, we’ll give you Rare back. How does that sound?
DOUG: But we already have Banjo-Kazooie coming to Nintendo Switch Online.
PHIL: There’s that new Perfect Dark game. That’s an Xbox exclusive.
DOUG: Mmm, but that’s not Rare, is it?
PHIL: Sea of Thieves?
DOUG: Won’t run on the Switch. And have you tried using our online multiplayer?
DOUG: I think ceaseless fart jokes would make for a very weird Zelda.
[Phil scans his list. Most things are crossed out.]
PHIL: Tingle definitely farts.
DOUG: Our official internal company line is “pretend Tingle never existed”.
PHIL: Candy Crush Go?
DOUG: How would that even work? Are you catching jelly beans?
PHIL: I don’t know! We could just tell Niantic to figure it out and rake in all the cash.
PHIL: Viva Piñata?
DOUG: That’s the most convincing thing you’ve said yet, Philip.
PHIL: Okay, good, good!
PHIL: Uhhh… Oh! Here’s a pitch: Screensavers on the Nintendo Switch.
PHIL: Yeah, like… remember that one with the maze?
DOUG: I don’t think anyone uses screensavers any more.
PHIL: Right, because no one really still uses CRT monitors. Or OLED monitors. Riiiiight?
PHIL: Good thing there are no OLED consoles, haha!
DOUG: …You’ve made your point.
PHIL: And, tell you what, we’ll throw in Encarta on Switch.
[Doug hangs up.]
PHIL: You love Encarta. I’ve seen the number of hours you put into MindMaze alone.
DOUG: How could you possibly know that? MindMaze isn’t even on Steam.
PHIL: I work at Microsoft, Doug. I see everything.
DOUG: So far, your only enticing propositions have been Viva Piñata and Encarta, Phil. And I don’t think Nintendo fans are going to be interested in a bunch of 20-year-old games.
PHIL: Isn’t that your entire business model?
DOUG: Shut up.
PHIL: Alright, okay. One last idea for you.
DOUG: It had better be good. The higher-ups won’t even look at it as it is.
PHIL: What if… What if I added another Nintendo Switch to my games shelf? Eh?
So… it’s not looking likely that Nintendo will end up in Xbox’s stable of game horses. But perhaps you have a more convincing argument for Doug Bowser? Let us know in the comments.