As first reported in detail by VGC, Uemura joined Nintendo in 1972 originally helping to develop physical gun games. These included the Laser Clay Shooting System which was popular in Japanese arcades at the time.
From there, Uemura was put in charge of R&D2, the division responsible for creating Nintendo’s hardware. He led development of its four Colour TV-Game consoles which were dedicated devices with games built-in.
After Nintendo’s other research and development team – R&1 – launched the Game & Watch, Masayuki Uemura received a phone call from Nintendo’s president at the time, Hiroshi Yamauchi asking him to develop a way for video games to be played on home TV sets. The story is fully explained on VGC but two years after, the Famicom – also known as the NES – was created.
Masayuki Uemura, the former lead architect of the NES and SNES, has passed away. He was one of the genius minds behind some of our best game memories. pic.twitter.com/KO43DIGuTt
— Archipel | アルシペル (@SailToArchipel) December 9, 2021
The SNES (or Super Famicom) was put into development after the success of the NES. Besides working on hardware, Uemura also produced a number of NES games including Ice Climber, Golf, Tennis, and Baseball. He also worked on home ports of Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr, and Mario Bros.
Uemura retired from Nintendo in 2004 but continued to work as an advisor. He also became the director of the Ritsumeikan University Center for Game Studies and a visiting professor at its College of Image Arts and Sciences.
In an interview with Eurogamer in February 2020, he said that “in my spirit, I’m always an engineer”.