Home News Masayuki Uemura, Designer of The Nintendo Entertainment System, Dies At 78

Masayuki Uemura, Designer of The Nintendo Entertainment System, Dies At 78

by Geek Insider Staff

The gaming world is mourning the demise of Nintendo entertainment system (NES) developer Masayuki Uemura, which occurred on December 6, 2021. Engineer Masayuki played a key role in starting a global revolution in gaming that laid a foundation for the modern gaming industry. Masayuki was also the Head of the Center for Game Studies at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. 

Masayuki Uemura Early Life

Mr. Uemura was born in 1943 in Tokyo, Japan, during the WWII fracas. His father, who owned a record store, was forced to move the family to Kyoto to avoid the bombings that ravaged the region. 

Masayuki Uemura showed interest in technical activities at an early age, and at some point, he built a radio. In one of his interviews, engineer Masayuki narrated how he carried bundles of firewood from the mountains to earn for his own pachinko game machine. 

After graduating from high school, Uemura enrolled in an electrical engineering course at the Chiba Institute of Technology with the dream of becoming an expert and perhaps creating a color TV someday. After graduating, Mr. Uemura joined Sharp company as a salesperson until 1971, when Nintendo’s then Chief engineer offered him a slot in the company. Nintendo was a relatively small game card manufacturer focused on the traditional Japanese game at that time. Mr. Uemura later revealed that he didn’t plan to leave Sharp for an underdog, but it was due to a life decision. He had to leave his post at Sharp, as the company was planning to relocate him to the U.S, which would separate him from his newly married wife.

Masayuki Uemura Transformed Nintendo

The decision to crossover from Sharp to Nintendo was transformative for himself and Nintendo. Within the next ten years, after Mr. Uemura joined Nintendo, video game consoles had a moment of popularity, prompting Nintendo to capitalize on the Donkey Kong arcade game in the U.S market. Unfortunately, the market collapsed due to a lack of inspiring quality control software that could deliver the feel. The early 80s saw unsold game cartridges of hit games like Pac-Man in landfills as retailers lost hope in the gaming system. 

Due to these developments, Nintendo’s then-president, Hiroshi Yamauchi, made a late-night call to Mr. Uemura asking him to develop an entertainment system that would bring the arcade gaming experience to users’ homes. 

The Nintendo Entertainment System

Mr. Uemura developed “Famicom,” short for “family computer,” in a red and white box. While other consoles had jerking and shuttering blocky graphics, Famicom had smooth, cartoon-like animations and backgrounds, making the game livelier. Besides, Famicom removed the beep and bloop in the traditional gaming system and instead used music.

The introduction of the new NES in the U.S market in 1985 changed the gaming industry. The NES box and its signature controllers became a signature became household staple sparking a virtual monopoly as competitors retreated in response to Nintendo’s corporate dominance. The machine steered Nintendo to become a leading company in Japan, and its games like “The Legend of Selda” and “Super Mario Brothers” became classic franchises. In 1990, Masayuki Uemura masterminded an upgrade to the console dubbed Super Nintendo and sold over 50 million units globally. This bolstered Nintendo’s reputation as the most influential video game company globally and placed it among the best entertainment companies of all time. 

Engineer Masayuki Uemura also produced popular video games such as Ice Climber and Baseball before his retirement in 2004. Since then, Mr. Uemura has been the head of the Center for Game Studies at Ritsumeikan University.  

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