Yuji Naka was fired as director of Balan Wonderworld and filed a lawsuit against Square Enix

Yuji Naka was fired as director of Balan Wonderworld and filed a lawsuit against Square Enix

Yuji Naka was fired as director of Balan Wonderworld and filed a lawsuit against Square Enix

Balan Wonderworld
Image: Square Enix

Update: We now have a more accurate translation of Yuji Naka’s tweets, courtesy of the Twitter user Cheese maker.

The tone of the post is much the same as the machine-translated one, but it’s much clearer here that Yuji Naka thinks Balan Wonderworld’s poor reception was a result of events behind the scenes.

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

I was fired as director of Balan Wonderworld about six months before it was released, so I filed a lawsuit against Square Enix. Now that the procedure is complete and I am no longer bound by company rules, I would like to speak.

I think Square Enix is ​​wrong not to value games and game fans. According to court documents, I was removed from my position as director of Balan Wonderworld for 2 reasons. This was done by the producer, marketing manager, sound manager, general manager and HR.

First, when a YouTuber’s arranged piano performance of the game’s music was posted in a promotion instead of the original game track, turning the composer into a ghostwriter, I insisted that the track original is published and this caused problems.

Second, according to court documents, [Naoto] Ohshima told the producer [Noriyoshi] Fujimoto that the relationship with Arzest was ruined because of the comments I made to improve the game against Arzest who submitted the game without fixing bugs.

Additionally, in an email from Ohshima to Fujimoto, he wrote, “I just informed the staff about the demo delay. When I told them, ‘It was production. Fujimoto’s decision. Let’s do our best for him,” the staff cheered and applauded. It was unexpected and I was moved…

The staff has been down lately, but their spirits have been revived. Thank you so much. All staff will work hard. So the schedule wasn’t mine, it was the producer’s, but the schedule being tight, it was the producer’s. Something was wrong.

We were releasing an original game, but only releasing an arranged track was definitely a mistake. I believe the music in the game that anyone can hum along to are the original tracks.

I think every effort should be made to make the games the best they can be until the very end so game fans can enjoy what they buy. It was not fair, without discussion, to dismiss and completely dissociate from the project a director who said so.

Retweet, like, etc. on SNS and such have been banned, so I don’t think Square Enix cares about gaming fans. There were a lot of comments and beautiful illustrations on Balan Wonderworld, and I’m really sorry that I couldn’t respond to them.

I myself feel very sorry for customers who purchased Balan Wonderworld in an unfinished state. From this moment, I will be able to react to publications that tag me or that are only addressed to me on SNS and others.

I believe that when making games, asking for fixes in order to do something right should be a no-brainer, and if that’s not possible it should be discussed, but it seems that’s not the case. I don’t think they enjoy games.

For Sonic the Hedgehog, 2 weeks before finalization, the spec was changed so that if you even have 1 ring, you won’t die. This now well-known rule is the result of improving the game to the very end, and people all over the world have taken advantage of it.

Improving a game to the very end is what a game designer is, and if that’s not possible, something is wrong. I asked my lawyer to negotiate my right to comment until the end of the production, but their refusal led me to file a complaint.

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

Thank you Cheesemeister for this translation.

Yuji Naka draws comparisons between his firing and his time working on Sonic the Hedgehog, where he worked until the last minute to implement a now-essential mechanic for the series. It seems he thinks that if he had been allowed to stay on board, he could have given the same care and attention to Balan Wonderworld.

Last summer, Naka announced that he had left Square Enix at the end of April 2021 and planned to retire, although the famous game developer had entered the mobile game market. His departure from Square Enix is ​​likely different from his retirement as director of Balan Wonderworld.


Original post: Balan Wonderworld was a pretty big disappointment for many. Fans of Yuji Naka (platform flop director) and his work on various Sonic securities, nights in dreams, and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg took a look at the platformer released by Square Enix when it was announced and was charmed by the music and visuals. It was reminiscent of a Dreamcast-era platformer, and we wanted to.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned and Balan Wonderworld was dubbed the worst Switch game of 2021, but it looks like a lot more was going on behind the scenes. Today on Twitter, Yuji Naka revealed that he was actually fired as the game’s director six months before launch. Many still attribute a lot of Balan Wonderworld to Naka, so it’s quite shocking, but the original Sonic the Hedgehog programmer didn’t stop there.

Naka filed a lawsuit against Square Enix, which has now ended, but in a Twitter thread he explains how unhappy he was with most of the decisions made by Square Enix and co-developer Arzest. Naka knew the game was unfinished and needed more work, and he wanted to help with that, but Square Enix’s withdrawal meant he couldn’t.

At the moment we only have machine translation via Nibel and DeepL of what Yuji Naka has to say, but even so it’s clear that his thoughts are scathing on the subject:

Naka deeply apologizes to fans who picked up the game throughout his thread while being particularly pointed towards Square Enix:

I think Square Enix does not take good care of its gaming fans because retweeting, liking, etc. were also banned on social networking sites. There were a lot of comments and very nice illustrations of Balan Wonderworld, and I’m really sorry that I couldn’t do anything about it.

It looks like Yuji Naka was looking to give the fans what they wanted, and because he was let go as a director, there was nothing he could do about it. His final statement perfectly sums up this feeling:

For me, it’s really a shame that you released your unfinished work “Balan Wonderworld”. I wanted to present it to the world as an action game in an appropriate form considering various things. I think Square Enix and Arzest are companies that don’t care about games and game fans.

Square Enix or Arzest haven’t responded to these claims at the time of this 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 seems like the time may be right to re-read our own retrospective defense in this context:

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

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