Yuji Naka Opens Up About Balan Wonderworld Troubles: ‘I Think Square Enix Is No Good’
Veteran developer Yuji Naka hit out at his former publisher, Square Enix, after a court case over his removal as director of Balan Wonderworld concluded.
Naka is best known for his work on Sonic The Hedgehog, Phantasy Star, and Nights into Dreams. In a series of tweets, Naka said that “Square Enix is no good” and that neither they nor co-developer Arzest are “companies that care about games or fans.”
Naka had served as the director of Balan for much of its development but was removed from the post about six months before the game was released. He resigned from Square Enix shortly after Balan was released and filed a lawsuit against the company. He also floated the idea of retiring from the games industry for good.
Balan Wonderworld Xbox Series X Screenshots
In his thread, Naka cited two reasons for his last-minute dismissal. First was he voiced concern about promotional work with a Youtuber, who was to perform and release sheet music for a piano arrangement of the game’s music. “I thought it strange that we would only release an arrangement of the game’s music, and furthermore use a ghostwriter to produce that arrangement,” wrote Naka. “I got in trouble for arguing that we release the original score.”
Naka also cited tensions between himself and Arzest surrounding his comments that the game was submitted in an unfinished state, with known issues left unfixed. “I believe that games should be made by working hard until the very end, until it’s a good game that the team thinks their fans enjoy when they buy it,” he wrote.
Balan Wonderworld was announced in 2020 and hyped as the long-awaited reunion of Naka and fellow Sonic creator Naoto Ohshima, who is currently the head of Arzest. It was a critical and commercial failure upon release in March 2021, with our review calling it a “half-baked platformer” that was little more than a “jumble of endearing but incoherent ideas” and let down by “fundamentally bad choices.”
While mostly focusing his ire on Square Enix and Azrest, Naka also thanked those who provided “comments and fantastic illustrations” inspired by the game, and offered his “sincere apologies to those customers who bought the unfinished Balan Wonderworld.”
IGN has reached out to Square Enix for comment and you can read our independent translation of Naka’s Twitter thread below.