Less known to players than Shigeru Miyamoto, Gunpei Yokoi or even Eiji Aonuma, Masayuki Uemura will have contributed to the planetary success of the manufacturer. He has just passed away at the age of 78.
An engineer by training, Masayuki Uemura began his career at Nintendo in 1971, where he worked for 33 years, and notably shaped the architecture of the Famicom and the Super Famicom, known outside the Archipelago under the name of NES and Super NES. It is precisely the YouTube channel of documentaries Archipel which informed us this morning of his death, at the age of 78:
Masayuki Uemura, the former chief architect of the NES and the Super NES has passed away. He was one of the great minds that made some of our best video game memories.
Before it was cool
First employed by the electronics giant not yet called Sharp Corporation, Masayuki Uemura worked alongside Gunpei Yokoi on toys released by Nintendo in the 1970s, until a certain … Duck Hunt. The toy, not the game. A pioneer in Japanese hardware, he worked on the very first home consoles, the TV Color Game 6 and TV Color Game 15, and became head of the Nintendo Research & Development 2 department.
Masayuki Uemura is therefore chosen by CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi to work on Nintendo’s first interchangeable cartridge console, which will become the Famicom / NES … without really believing it :
I felt like an already defeated war general who just had to carry out the orders of his leadership. I still have a notebook that I used at the start of Famicom development. There were no positive signs at that time, and I’m just bitching about it, being very pessimistic.
Nintendo, and after
The future will have obviously given him wrong, and it is quite naturally that Masayuki Uemura will work from 1988 on the new 16-bit console from Nintendo, with the success that we know. The engineer finally left the company in 2004, but continued to serve as an advisor, and at the same time holds the role of professor at the Ritsumeikan University Center for Game Studies and the College of Image Arts and Sciences, in Kyoto.
The announcement of his death was obviously marked by many messages from Nintendo and elsewhere, like Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of the Super Smash Bros. series. :
The Famicom is the console that has influenced me the most. Without it, I won’t be where I am today.
Masayuki Uemara was not the last to admit his wrongs, as he claimed during the release of the NES Mini that the original model might as well sell. Sacred him.