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Kotaku- Masayuki Uemura was the main architect of Famicom (aka Nintendo Entertainment System) and Super Famicon (aka SNES). The mark he left on the gaming industry and popular culture is indelible. According to Oricon News, Uemura died on December 6. He was 78 years old.
As everyone is shopping for gifts to make sure their family and friends have a memorable Christmas, we need to take a moment to remember the man responsible for the countless fond Christmas memories in Masayuki Uemura. If you’re an old man like me, NES ruled your childhood and took over countless Christmas breaks, whether you have the console, whatever the most popular game is, or if your parents were rich, the one of the completely unnecessary accessories like the Power Glove.
I can’t stress how cool this glove looked back then and how lame it was when you actually played with it.
There is no Super Mario Bros, Punch Out, or Zelda without Masayuki Uemura. Hell, even if you were too young for the NES and SNES, there’s no denying that modern classics like the Nintendo 64, Wii, or Switch aren’t created without OGs setting the stage for them and we know what kind. of reactions the children had unboxed the Nintendo 64.
Think about all the other great games that don’t happen without the NES launching into the world. No golden eye. No Wii Sports. No fucking MARIO KART, which in my opinion is the funniest game in gaming history. No video games, but games. That being said, you can argue that Masayuki Uemura is responsible for more great childhood memories than anyone in the history of the planet. And the best part is that all of those good childhood memories are due to a boozy boss.
Originally, Uemura worked at Sharp, selling photocell technology to various companies, including his future employer Nintendo. Once he joined the company, he worked with Gunpei Yokoi to integrate photocell technology into electric gun sets. He will then work on plug-and-play consoles like Nintendo’s Color TV-Game. But that all changed in 1981 with just one phone call.
“President Yamauchi told me to create a video game system, which could play cartridge games,” Uemura told Matt Alt in an interview posted last year on Kotaku. “He always liked to call me after I had a few drinks, so I didn’t think much about it. I just said, “Sure, boss,” and hung up. It wasn’t until the next morning that he approached me sober and said, “That thing we talked about, are you there?” That struck me: he was serious.
There have been a lot of great ideas inspired by alcohol and more than a few awful ones too. But perhaps creating the NES is the best of all. Shout out at everything President Yamauchi sipped that night for changing the lives of billions of people by changing Uemura’s daily tasks.
The only shame in all of this is that the Uemura team absolutely nailed small arms technology in the ’80s and then never did anything with it other than putting it in a meh game in Duck Hunt and only a few other shooting games at the time.
For the record, my Mount Rushmore of NES games are Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, and Tecmo Bowl. I know there are plenty of other great choices like Contra, Mega Man, Metroid, etc. But this is my list and you can put your list in the comments where there are really no wrong answers outside of Mario 2 which is and always will be trash in my eyes because it was just a game that Nintendo belittled because they didn’t think Americans could handle the real Mario 2.
Super Mario Bros. 2 was born after Nintendo of America deemed Super Mario Bros .: The Lost Levels too difficult for Western audiences, which led Nintendo to redevelop the Family Computer Disk System game Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic into a Super Mario Bros. game. for international release.
So RIP Masayuki Uemura and thank you for all the memories I will relive in 8-bit and 16-bit glory with music that immediately brings me back to a time when life was so much easier and your biggest problems were having to blow a cartridge to get a game to work.