Over the holidays we’re republishing some choice features from the last 12 months. A mix of talking points, interviews, opinion pieces and more from NL staff and contributors, you’ll find our usual blend of thoughtfulness, expertise, frivolity, retro nostalgia, and — of course — enthusiasm for all things Nintendo. Happy holidays!
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 (paper) pages on the internet, but we still love terrible jokes — so welcome to our semi-regular feature, Back Page. Today, Kerry delves into the story of the elusive, mercurial man that is the fabled ‘Uncle At Nintendo’…
An uncle. Maybe yours, maybe your friend’s. Maybe the uncle of someone who goes by the name MIYAM0T0S_HAIR online.
You know the one. No, not the one everyone saw enthusiastically dancing to Steps at a birthday party in that viral video. The other one, the one who somehow has never been mentioned until the very moment their existence was needed to outdo a bunch of someone’s peers in a game-related argument, often in a playground. Him. The one who works for Nintendo. What was his name again?
Nintendo Uncle – The Man
This suddenly-remembered and mysterious (yet definitely real) relative doesn’t do any of the boring jobs you usually see advertised at a big publisher/developer hybrid corporation, like marketing or accounts or ordinary programming while sat at a computer like your regular boring uncle does, John; oh no, this magic uncle works in the special secret bit nobody’s ever heard of.
Obviously, the Nintendo Uncle-owner you’re conversing with can’t talk about this special project bunker in great detail because, y’know, it’s secret, the uncle’s days apparently spent observing all sorts of mystical Nintendo things and then, for some reason, frequently breaking legally binding and career-ending Non Disclosure Agreements just so their niece or nephew has some juicy gossip to share online. The new Zelda’s going to be cloud version-only! Mario’s going to be in Pokémon Graphite! Nintendo’s going to stop making consoles!
Nintendo Uncle – The Myth
Historians speculate the Nintendo Uncle myth is so strong it might even predate the Japanese hanafuda card manufacturer itself; a tale capable of transcending time, space, and basic common sense thanks to the sheer number of people who have invoked this ephemeral being.
But why? Why do people do it? And why do we let them?
You can have any number of uncles, they can reasonably have a wide range of ages, they can live pretty much anywhere at any time — and nobody can prove otherwise
Part of this tall-tale-telling is down to how perfect the scenario is if you’re the sort of person desperate to have your social group hanging on your every word at short notice. You can have any number of uncles, they can reasonably have a wide range of ages, they can live pretty much anywhere at any time — and nobody can prove otherwise.
There’s some built-in security in the fact that it isn’t unusual for your friends not to have met any of your uncles at all (especially the one who’s so very busy working at Nintendo at this very moment) and unless someone tries to pull a rare Reverse-Double-Uncle manoeuvre — claiming your uncle couldn’t possibly be working at Nintendo because everybody knows theirs definitely is — your assertion is pretty safe from casual social scrutiny. No matter how many times it’s told, the Nintendo Uncle setup is always just plausible enough for uninitiated listeners to allow the person spinning the yarn to continue.
And that’s where the rest of us come in. Nintendo Uncle persists into the modern era because we enjoy hearing these ridiculous non-truths just as much as some people like to tell them.
Half Life 3 is a Switch exclusive, is it? Please, tell me more. You’ve heard a new Nintendo Labo kit is out next year and is going to include a dedicated F-Zero controller, but you can’t say why? Oh go on, you tease! Your Nintendo Uncle lent you a prototype N64 cart containing Mother 3 in English? Of course he did — spill those beans! Konami are going to celebrate 35 years of their ever-popular Castlevania series not with a new game collection or hyper-expensive collectible but a bunch of NFTs? OK, now you’re pushing it. As if they’d ev—
Nintendo Uncle – The Stats
Our own estimates suggest there are a minimum of 160,300 uncles directly employed by Nintendo at any given time, all working on top-secret Switch 3D Pro Advance hardware projects and handing out game prototypes their nieces and nephews aren’t allowed to show anyone, like Pokemon Sword Turbo Stadium and Kirby Super Star: Uncensored Edition – The One Where DeDeDe Dies With The Blood And Guts And Everything.
This estimated figure presents something of a problem, though, as last year’s annual report shows Nintendo employs 6,574 people around the globe, and 3,411 staff members identify as male. For the sake of argument let’s be incredibly generous and assume every single one of them is a real Nintendo Uncle, whether they’re fresh-faced interns, grizzled directors, or creative fellows.
According to the most recent figures at the time of writing, Switch has now sold almost 93 million units. Let’s also assume that each hypothetical Real Nintendo Uncle has a neat pair of ‘niblings’, both of whom bought one of those 93 million Switches. If we’ve got our maths right, in the best possible scenario around 0.007% of Switch owners really do have an uncle working for Nintendo, somewhere.
Which means there’s a very slim chance MIYAM0T0S_HAIR might be telling the truth when they say they have a special Switch with a 3DS cart slot and that Halo Infinite is definitely coming to Switch next year.
Nintendo Uncle – The Truth
And yet despite all odds and all the wildest rumours people have allegedly heard straight from the mouths of their Nintendo Uncles, sometimes, just sometimes, these far-fetched stories turn out to be true. Sonic games on a Nintendo system? Yeah right! Oh wait no, that really did happen. It’s actually happened quite a lot. And it keeps on happening.
Just about every round of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate ever played is a whole chat server’s Nintendo Uncle stories made real
Just about every round of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate ever played is a whole chat server’s Nintendo Uncle stories made real. Bayonetta teaming up with Metal Gear Solid’s Snake to take down Fire Emblem’s Marth and Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII fame on top of the Silph Co. building from Pokémon? That’s a thing you can do right now.
For a time, Nintendo really did use satellites to beam all new Zelda, F-Zero, and Kirby (mini) games into homes. Maybe not Nintendo Uncle’s home. Maybe not even a lot of the Japanese households that could have potentially signed up to the Satellaview service, but for a time that unlikely fact was entirely true.
And of course we’ve all heard that one particularly crazy fabrication about Nintendo ditching separate home and portable markets entirely to create a weird hybrid console with detachable controllers that’s meant to be everything all at once. That’ll never catch on, surely?
What was your favourite uncle-based Nintendo rumour? What confidences from your dear old unc’ did you break on the playground? Let us know below.
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