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NES and SNES creator Masayuki Uemura dies at 78

Uemura held a position at Ritsumeikan University until his death

the NES Classic next to the SNES Classic, photographed on a purple background Photo: Shai Ben-Dor/Vox Media
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The lead architect of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Masayuki Uemura, has died. The Ritsumeikan Center for Game Studies at Ritsumeikan University announced Uemura’s death on Thursday, saying he died Dec. 6 at the age of 78.

Uemura first joined Nintendo in 1972, and worked with the company to build light-gun games, helping to create the predecessor to Duck Hunt. After moving to Nintendo’s new R&D2 team, he headed up the squad’s home console initiative — a mandate from then-president Hiroshi Yamauchi.

Uemura began development on the Famicom (the Japanese name for the NES) in 1981 in an attempt to bring the arcade to player’s living rooms. R&D2 launched the Famicom in 1983, and Uemura’s team built its successor, the SNES (known as the Super Famicom in Japan), for its 1990 release.

Before retiring in 2004, Uemura also helped build games like Ice Climbers, Clu Clu Land, Soccer, Baseball, and Golf. While he remained a research and development adviser in retirement, Uemura served as a professor at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, teaching video game development to a new generation of creatives.

Fans and developers — such as Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai — are mourning his loss on Twitter.

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