Yuji Naka was removed as Balan Wonderworld director, suing Square Enix

Balan Wonderworld
Photo: Square Enix

Update: We’ve now got a more accurate translation of Yuji Naka’s tweets, thanks to the Twitter user Cheese master.

The tone of the message is very much the same as the machine translation, but it is much clearer here that Yuji Naka believes that the poor reception of Balan Wonderworld was a result of what goes on behind the scenes.

We have embedded the beginning of the translated thread and also included the full translation of Naka’s tweets below.

I was removed as director of Balan Wonderworld about half a year before the release, so I filed a lawsuit against Square Enix. Now that the case is over and I am no longer bound by the company’s rules, I would like to comment.

I think it’s wrong of Square Enix not to appreciate games and game fans. According to court documents, I was removed as director of Balan Wonderworld for 2 reasons. This was done by the manufacturer, marketing manager, sound manager, CEO and HR.

First, when a YouTuber’s arranged piano performance of the game music was released in a promotion instead of the original game track, making the composer a ghostwriter, I insisted that the original track be released and it created problems.

Second, according to court documents, [Naoto] Ohshima told the producer [Noriyoshi] Fujimoto that the relationship with Arzest was ruined due to comments I made where I wanted to improve the game in light of the fact that Arzest submitted the game without correcting errors.

Also in an email from Ohshima to Fujimoto he wrote: ‘I just told the staff about the demo delay. When I told them: ‘This was Producer Fujimoto’s decision. Let’s do our best for him, ‘the staff clapped and cheered. This was unexpected and I was touched …

The staff has been down lately, but their mood has been revived. Thank you. All of us on the staff will work hard. ‘ So the schedule was not up to me but the manufacturer, yet it was the task of the manufacturer that the schedule was tight. Something was off.

We released an original game, but only releasing an arranged number was definitely wrong. I believe that the game music that everyone can hum out is the original tracks.

I believe that everything must be done to make games the best they can be until the very end so that game fans will enjoy what they buy. It was not right without discussion to remove and completely take a director who said that, from the project.

Retweeting, likes, etc. on SNS and such were banned, so I do not think Square Enix appreciates game fans. There were many comments and wonderful illustrations about Balan Wonderworld and I’m really sorry I could not respond to them.

Personally, I’m really sorry for the customers who bought Balan Wonderworld in an unfinished state. From this point on, I will be able to respond to posts that tag me or are only directed at me on SNS and such.

I mean, when making games, it should be a matter of course to ask for corrections to make something good, and if that’s not possible, it should be talked about, but it seems that they can not. I do not think they appreciate games.

For Sonic the Hedgehog, the specification was changed 2 weeks before completion, so if you only have 1 ring, you will not die. This now well-known rule was the result of improving the game to the last, and people all over the world have enjoyed it as a result.

Improving a game to the last is what being a game creator is all about, and if that’s not possible, something’s wrong. I asked my lawyer to negotiate that I could just comment until the end of the production, but their rejection made me sue.

I think the resulting Balan Wonderworld and the critical reception it received has a lot to do with what happened. I’m really disappointed that a product I was working on from the start turned out this way.

Thank you Cheesemeister for this translation.

Yuji Naka compares his dismissal to the time he worked on Sonic the Hedgehog, where he worked right up to the last minute to implement a now essential mechanic for the series. It seems that he thinks that had he been allowed to stay on board, he could have given Balan Wonderworld the same care and attention.

Last summer, Naka announced that he was leaving Square Enix in late April 2021 and was planning to retire even though the famous game developer entered the mobile gaming market. That he is leaving Square Enix is ​​probably different from his removal as director of Balan Wonderworld.

Original article: Balan Wonderworld was a disappointment, however. Fans of Yuji Naka (the director of the platform flop) and his work with various Sonic titles, Nights into dreams, and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg took a look at the Square Enix-released platform game on his ad and were charmed by the music and the visuals. It was evocative of a Dreamcast-era platformer, and we longed for it.

Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan and Balan Wonderworld was called the worst Switch game of 2021, but it sounds like there was a lot more going on behind the scenes. Today, Yuji Naka revealed on Twitter that he was actually removed as the game’s director six months before the launch. Many still credited a lot of Balan Wonderworld to Naka, so this is pretty shocking, but the original Sonic the Hedgehog programmer didn’t just let it go.

Naka filed a lawsuit against Square Enix, which is now over, but in a Twitter thread, he covers how unhappy he was with many of the decisions made by both Square Enix and co-developer Arzest. Naka knew the game was unfinished and needed more work, and he wanted to help, but Square Enix’s removal of him meant he could not.

Right now we only have a machine translation via Nibel and DeepL about what Yuji Naka has to say, but still it is clear that his thoughts are fragmented on the matter:

Naka is deeply apologetic to fans who have taken up the game throughout his thread, especially pointing to Square Enix:

I think Square Enix is ​​not taking good care of their gaming fans as retweeting, likes, etc. were also banned on social networking sites. There were many comments and very nice illustrations by Balan Wonderworld and I’m very sorry I could not do anything about it.

It sounds like Yuji Naka was trying to give the fans what they wanted, and because he was removed as a director, he could not do anything about it. His concluding statement sums up this feeling perfectly:

To me, it’s really a shame that you’ve released your unfinished work “Balan Wonderworld” to the world. I wanted to release it to the world as an action game in a proper form considering different things. I think Square Enix and Arzest are companies that do not care about games and gaming fans.

Square Enix or Arzest have not responded to these allegations at the time of writing, but given Balan Wonderworld’s poor reception – including our own 3 out of 10 review – it’s easy to understand Naka’s frustration. It sounds like now might be a good time to reread our own retrospective defense given this context:

If we find out more about the situation, we will let you know.