Masayuki Uemura, father of the NES and SNES, passes away aged 78

One of the fathers of modern video gaming, Masayuki Uemura, has passed away aged 78. He was the lead architect of Nintendo’s NES and SNES consoles.

Masayuki Uemura, one of the figures most responsible for bringing video games out of the arcade and into our homes, has passed away at 78 years old.

During his 33-year career working for Japanese video game giant Nintendo, he was an integral part of the team behind the development of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), and its predecessor the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).

masayuki uemura
Image: Nintendo Entertainment System / Ravi Palwe

Masayuki Uemura joined Nintedo in 1971 and was first tasked with utilising photocell technology in a video game context – which at the time was primarily used to create laser gun shooting games such as Laser Clay Shooting System and eventually 1976’s iconic Duck Hunt.

In 1981, Masayuki Uemura was assigned the mission by Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi to make “something that lets you play arcade games on your TV at home.” The result of which was 1983’s hugely influential Famicom (later rebranded as the NES for Western markets), the home of famous titles such as The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Metroid, and Ninja Gaiden.

The Famicom/NES was a hit at the time, and since has gone on to sell almost 62 million consoles worldwide, despite initially being released during the video game crash of 1983.

super mario bros
Image: Super Mario Bros. / Nintendo

In 1988, Masayuki Uemura began work on that console’s successor the SNES/Super Famicom, which upped the power from 8 to 16-bit. Part of this team was Ken Kutaragi, who would later etch himself into video gaming history as the creator of the Sony PlayStation.

Masayuki Uemura also developed a number of video games during his career, including  SoccerBaseballGolfClu Clu Land, and Ice Climber before his retirement in 2004.

After his retirement from Nintendo, Uemura took on the role of Professor at Ritsumeikan Universityl, where he researched video games and shared his knowledge with a new generation of game developers.

the legend of zelda
Image: The Legend of Zelda / Nintendo

Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai posted the following message on Twitter:

It has been announced that Masayuki Uemura, the creator of the Family Computer, has passed away. I pray for your soul … NES is the game console that I was most influenced by. Without this, it wouldn’t be there.” (Translated by Google Translate)