Yuji Naka Reveals He Sued Square Enix For Balan Wonderworld Removal, Criticises Game Release ‘A Disgrace’

Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator Yuji Naka has spoken out against publisher Square Enix over the release of Balan Wonderworld, claiming he was removed from the project as director months before the game’s launch – which led him to sue the Final Fantasy company.

In a series of explosive tweets published today (translated by Twitter user Cheesemeister3K and VGC), Naka was heavily critical of Square Enix and fellow development studio Arzest for the way Balan Wonderworld turned out. The game was panned on launch, with game critics saying the action platformer was clearly rushed to market. Naka said his removal as the game’s director led to the game being released in an unfinished state.

“Personally, I believe that it is a true disgrace that Balan Wonderworld was released in the state that it was in,” reads Naka’s statement (translated). “I wanted to show the world an action game in its proper light. Therefore, I believe that Square Enix and Arzest are companies that care about neither games nor their fans.”

“The business relationship with Arzest fell apart due to my comments about Arzest submitting the final build without fixing bugs even though there were problems during development, and I was pushing for further polish,” Naka added. This point formed one of two disputes that Naka says was the basis for Square Enix pushing him out of the project many months before the game’s release.

Another dispute involved an incident with a YouTuber who intended to use an arrangement piece to promote the game’s soundtrack, rather than the publisher using a track from the original score.

“Game creators are supposed to improve their games until the very end, and I believe that it is wrong to prevent them from carrying out this goal,” Naka concluded. “I asked my lawyer to negotiate with our business partners to at least allow me to address issues on Balan Wonderworld’s development until the very end, but they ignored my requests, so I ultimately decided to file a lawsuit in court.

“It is because of this that Balan Wonderworld received all the criticisms and comments you all know well… It is quite unfortunate that a project I had spearheaded from the beginning would turn out this way.”

Naka added that he wanted to speak about his experience with Balan Wonderworld now that his legal challenge against Square Enix is over.

A full translation of Naka’s statement can be found on VGC.

Published by

Dreadknux

Founder of The Sonic Stadium and creator/co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic convention. Loves talking about Sonic the Hedgehog in his spare time. Likes Sonic Colours a little too much for his own good, apparently.

8 Comments

  1. Man, this game was truly a trainwreck from the very beginning! But then again, Yuji’s career has been like that since he left SEGA.

  2. I feel really bad for the guy. Whether you like Balan Wonderworld or not, I don’t think it was hard to see from the outside that Square Enix WERE sabotaging the game. Refusing to delay it, very clearly rushing it out before the end of the fiscal year so they could write it off taxes, doing a miserable job at the promotion and the damage control, etc.
    And that’s on par with how they’re treating basically ALL of their properties currently, with the sole exception of their moneymaker Final Fantasy XIV.

    I don’t blame the guy for feeling so upset as to pursue legal action. It won’t change the past, it won’t change what the game is right now, but I can’t blame him for feeling that emotionally charged over it.

  3. I sympathize with the man, but at the same time, I don’t think a few more months would have made the game better. This thing needed a radical rework to actually be anything worth talking about.

    Nonetheless, good on him for taking on Squeenix. They’ve been a real dogshit company lately imo. I hope he wins just based on principle.

  4. I like to hear S-E’s side on this someday (even though I know they wouldn’t be honest on everything that went on), but I’m not really surprised, considering the way they are nowadays. That said, I don’t think Naka is entirely blameless here either. Both Naka and S-E dropped the ball at some point to create the mess that became Balan.

  5. Not surprising. IMO, Balan Wonderworld has great potential as a franchise, but even before this revelation I always felt like Square-Enix just didn’t like having Yuji Naka around and didn’t want Balan Wonderworld to succeed (either because of personal/creative differences or because Balan didn’t align with their existing game portfolio). I just hope that Yuji Naka is able to retain the rights to the Balan IP as part of this lawsuit so he can take the franchise elsewhere and hopefully make a better sequel.

  6. All Of The Things Yuji Naka Has Said Is CORRECT!, The Game Failed Because Of Square Enix Kicked Him Out Of The Project Months Before The Release, If They Kept Him, The Game Would Have Been Getting GREAT REVIEWS

    1. The criticisms about the game, its pacing, its level design, the dedication to its weird single-button control scheme, the way it handles costumes, the irritating quicktime event segments… a couple of months really wouldn’t have resolved that no matter who they had directing. Those issues were core to what that game is.

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