Veteran Nintendo Designer Leaves Company After 39 Years Of Service

The designer behind the NES and SNES, Lance Barr, is leaving Nintendo after almost 39 years of service.

NES Controller Nintendo
Credit: Unplash/@ravipalwe

Back in 1982, Barr joined the Japanese giant as a design and brand director. While Barr kickstarted his career working on arcade cabinets, he later redesigned Nintendo’s first two consoles, the Famicom and Super Famicom. This was primarily so that their aesthetic appeal to western consumers.

Famicom vs NES – What’s the difference?

If you’re familiar with Nintendo’s Famicom line of consoles, you’ll know that while they’re the same as the NES and SNES internally, their external appearance couldn’t be more different. In fact, the Famicom featured hardwired controllers, smaller cartridges and a playful colour scheme. Of course, the SNES’s design rework was a little more subtle and was only released in North America.

In a conversation with Nintendojo, Barr touched on the process behind transforming the Famicom into the NES [via Eurogamer]:

“...the biggest change was the orientation and size requirements to accommodate a new edge connector for inserting the games. The new edge connecter was a ‘zero force’ design that allowed the game to be inserted with low force, and then rotated down into the ‘contact’ position. The case had to be designed around the movement of the game, and required the shape and size of the NES to grow from the earlier concepts. Many of the features remained, such as the two-tone color, left and right side cuts, and overall “boxy” look, but the proportions changed significantly to accommodate the new edge connector.”

SNES CLassic
Credit: Nintendo

From Classic Consoles To Iconic Controllers

Of course, it’s worth noting that Barr’s continued to influence Nintendo’s hardware design throughout his career. From accessories like the NES Zapper to even the Wii’s Nunchuck controller, Barr has left his creative mark on Nintendo’s legacy.

So, what’s Barr going to move on to next? Well, according to his Linkedin, the designer is now “retired”. However, the page also states that he intends to move onto other unnamed projects. Therefore, while Barr definitely deserves some downtime, perhaps there’s more to come for the iconic designer.

Nevertheless, we hope you have a long and happy retirement, Lance, and thank you for everything!

Did you have an NES or SNES back in the day? Perhaps you still own one now? Let us know via our social media channels!

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Featured Image Credit: Nintendo