(Pocket-lint) - Later this year the original Xbox console will be 20 years old. If Microsoft had its way then the story of the console's history might have been a wholly different beast - as the company tried to buy Nintendo prior to the original Xbox's launch.

In an eye-opening retrospective, including interviews with Microsoft executives on the original Xbox team, Bloomberg covers the last two decades of Xbox in what it calls 'an oral history of an American videogame empire'.

It's a really interesting read that highlights the hurdles that had to be overcome, the inspiration of wanting to out the competition - namely Sony PlayStation - and where potential gains could be sought, which is where the idea of buying Nintendo comes in.

Kevin Bachus, former director of third-party relations, said: "Steve [Ballmer - then Microsoft president] made us go meet with Nintendo to see if they would consider being acquired. They just laughed their asses off. Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you. That was kind of how that meeting went."

Nothing like being laughed out of the room, eh? Nintendo knew its strengths and, despite a rollercoaster ride over the two decades since, has continued to come out a winner - you only need to look at Wii and Switch sales to confim that (the less said about the Wii U the better).

It wasn't the only play that Microsoft had up its sleeve. Prior to the laughed-off Nintendo acquisition attempt it had tried to acquire Electronic Arts (EA), then Square Enix (Final Fantasy publisher), then Midway Games (Mortal Kombat creator - which went bankrupt in 2009 and whose assets were acquired by Warner Bros.) - all unsuccessfully.

It was only when Bungie - which went on to make Halo exclusively for Xbox - was snapped up by Microsoft that it truly sealed the success of the console.

The Halo franchise has since gone on to sell 65 million copies of its games - not all under Microsoft's wing, though, as Bungie LLC became independent in 2007 (and has undergone many changes since then, including the 10 year deal with Activision which was signed off in 2010).

Still, it's interesting to read about those sliding doors moments of what could have been. Who could imagine Mario on Xbox?

Writing by Mike Lowe.