Masayuki Uemura, creator of the NES and SNES, passes away • Nintendo Connect

Masayuki Uemura was a Japanese video game engineer, producer, and director. He was known for his work as a Nintendo employee from 1971 to 2004. As a former employee of Sharp Corporation, he came to Nintendo and worked with Gunpei Yokoi and Genyo Takeda on solar cell technology for the Laser Clay firing system. After becoming General Manager of Nintendo R & D2, Uemura was the principal architect of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), better known in Japan as the “Famicom”.

The Laser Clay Shooting System is a small arms shooting simulation game developed by Nintendo in 1973. The game consisted of an overhead projector showing moving targets behind a background.

When Nintendo R & D2 was founded, Uemura was instrumental in the development of Nintendo’s “color television game” systems, the company’s first preliminary foray into home video games. Then Uemura began working at the Famicom in 1981 after Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi asked for a device that could play arcade games on a television, but with games that came on removable cartridges. Combined sales of Famicom and its western counterpart, the NES, total 61.91 million units, 20 million of them in Japan alone.

R & D2 would not only produce the Famicom, but also its equally popular successor, the SNES / Super Famicom. He also participated in the development of the exclusively Japanese Famicom Disk System and Super Famicom Satellaview, as well as the legendary NES Zapper. Not just the hardware, but the software as well kept him busy at Nintendo. While with the company, he also produced several titles, including Ice climber, Clu Clu Land and a trilogy of sports titles: soccer, baseball, and golf. He retired from Nintendo in 2004 and became director of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. Your organization brought today the sad news.

In one Interview with Nintendo Life In 2020, during a rare visit to the UK, Uemura spoke about one of the highlights of her career:

The best moment I can remember was when we finished developing the Famicom. At the time, we didn’t know if it would become popular or not, but the fact that we were able to finish the product was very satisfying. That was the first mission; making sure the development of the device was done and I was responsible for it, so I was happy.

At Nintendo Connect, we send our condolences to Japan, to Uemura’s friends and family. Without him, the world of video games would probably be different today.

Alex Hodgson

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