It’s a somber day in gaming as one of the longtime legends of the industry has passed on. Masayuki Uemura was recently announced to have died at the age of 78. Uemura was responsible for the design of both the Famicom in Japan and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the West. He also lent his talents to a wide swath of gaming innovations during his time at Nintendo before retiring from the company 2004.
Uemura’s passing was announced via Ritsumeikan University where he was currently the director for the Center for Game Studies, as reported via Matomame. Uemura apparently passed away on December 6, 2021, though no cause of death was cited in the report. A funeral was held by Uemura’s surviving relatives and a memorial service is under decision.
— Nintendo Memories (@NintendoMemo)
Uemura originally joined Nintendo in 1971, joining other Nintendo luminaries such as Gunpei Yokoi in designing technology for the Laser Clay Shooting System arcade game as one of his first projects. This technology would go on to become the light gun for games like Duck Hunt and Hogan’s Alley. However, some of Uemura’s arguably most important work would come in 1981 when, according to an interview with Polygon, then-president of Nintendo Hiroshi Yamauchi asked Uemura to create “something that lets you play arcade games on your TV at home.” The result of this was the original Famicom, and would go on to become the NES console in the west.
Masayuki Uemura’s contributions to Nintendo went beyond even the NES system. He was also a key designer of the Super Famicom system, which would become the Super Nintendo stateside. In addition to hardware, Uemura also played a part in some game design, including the likes of Clu Clu Land, Ice Climbers, and more. He worked with Nintendo up until 2004 before finally retiring to move to the Ritsumeikan University as director for the Center for Game Studies, where he researched and taught classes on game design up until his death.
Uemura’s contributions to Nintendo and, indeed, the modern history of gaming as a whole are vast and legendary. Shacknews celebrates a the life of a gaming legend and wishes Masayuki Uemura’s family and friends well in this time.