After almost 39 years at Nintendo, Lance Barr, designer of the US versions of the NES and SNES consoles, has announced his departure from the company.
Barr joined Nintendo in 1982 as its design and brand director, and as pointed out by Nintendo Life, his first job was to design arcade cabinets for the US market. A few years later in 1985, Nintendo would launch its Famicom home console in North America, which featured a new design that Barr had been working on since 1983. Originally envisioned as a wireless and modular system, these functions were eventually scaled back to reduce costs.
Barr was brought on to redesign the case based on new engineering requirements, which eventually resulted in the NES console’s iconic design.
“The biggest change was the orientation and size requirements to accommodate a new edge connector for inserting the games,” Barr said to Nintendojo in 2005. “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.”
In the years that followed, Barr contributed to the design of the NES Zapper lightgun, the NES Advantage arcade stick, the revised NES Max pad, and the SNES console, which turned 30 years old this week.
Barr also contributed to the New-style NES and New-Style Super NES redesigns that games could be top-loaded into. As for recent design contributions, Barr was responsible for designing the Wii Nunchuck. On his LinkedIn page, Barr said that he has moved on to other projects after leaving Nintendo.