Tuesday, July 5

The man who shaped two generations of Japanese consoles passes away: Masayuki Uemura, designer of NES and Super NES

He has died at the age of 78, according to reports Archipelago, The man who created two essential consoles for understanding the industry: Nintendo’s NES and Super NES, two pieces of hardware that indelibly marked videogames. Since 1972 he was part of the team of the also legendary Gunpei Yokoi, thus inheriting the childhood need he had, as part of a family with few resources, to invent and shape his own toys.

In fact, his is the anecdote that the original NES was born out of a drunkenness. “It all started with a phone call in 1981. The president Yamauchi told me about a video game console that could be played with cartridges“, he told Kotaku. “He always liked to call me after a few drinks, so I didn’t think about it too much. I just said ‘sure, boss,’ and hung up.” But the next day the boss took up the subject and had to be dealt with.

As collected by our colleagues from 3Dgames, the process that Uemura followed to build the first NES was to buy all the consoles of the moment and analyze them piece by piece for six months. “The development of the Famicom started at the right time, when manufacturers began to be able to customize the components and circuits,” he said. And all of that, staying true to Yamauchi’s demand that the console be unusually cheap.

A scarf for inspiration

The classic design of the first Famicom was flagged with red because it was the color of a scarf that Yamauchi liked, and Uemura realized the extent of the console’s success when they began having to tend to console repairs that had been spoiled from use in absolutely exorbitant amounts. By then Uemura was working on the western NES and the Disk System.

But there did not end the meteoric career of Uemura, who in 1988 began to design the 16-bit successor to the Famicom, the Super Famicom, or Super Nintendo in the West. In the process he came to collaborate with Ken Kutaragi, who would later create the Playstation for Sony. and that the Super Nintendo took care of its outstanding sound chip. In 2004, Uemura would retire from the company, going to work as a professor and researcher in subjects related to video games at Ritsumeikan University.


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