Reminder: Balan Wonderworld Demo Out Now

If you want to try Balan Wonderworld, the latest game from Sonic creators Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima, it now has a demo out on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Switch, and Steam! If you don’t have the time or just want a second opinion, we’ll have our own impressions article up later today.

Balan Wonderworld will be out on all platforms March 26. It is being published by Square Enix and co-developed by Balan Company and Arzest.

The Opening Cutscene for Balan Wonderworld is Out, and it’s a Trip

Square Enix released Balan Wonderworld’s opening CG movie today, and it is certainly…something. Check it out below:

Although the game play is clearly distinct from Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima’s past work, Balan has definitely been giving off some major NiGHTS into Dreams vibes, and this opening just adds to that.

Balan Wonderworld is currently set to launch on Switch, Xbox One, PS5 and PS4 next March. Stay tuned to SonicStadium for further coverage!

Balan Wonderworld Gets March 2021 Release Date

Today’s Nintendo Direct gave us some new info on Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima’s upcoming game, Balan Wonderworld. The game will be launching on March 26, 2021, and will include 12 worlds, each with their own boss fight. You progress through the game by collecting hidden trophies, which you can do with a friend through the game’s co-op mode.

You can check out the game’s new trailer for its Nintendo Switch version below:

Meet Knack the Hedgehog(?) in Terra Battle


In a follow-up to the story of Naoto Oshima creating new characters for a Daily Quest in Mistwalker’s Terra Battle for mobile devices, we now have clean high-res grabs of the artwork of the characters, and our not-Sonic the Hedgehog (the quest is called “Hedgehog Hullabaloo”, so I assume he is a Hedgehog himself?) is named Knack. No, not that Knack.

Here are the other three characters:

Viscount O'eylKatWukong

The Chaos-like character is named Viscount O’eyl (looking behind him, has he been playing Splatoon?), the purple cat is, well, Kat, and finally is the other Sonic-like monkey, known as none other than Wukong, named and designed after Sun Wukong, the main character in the legendary Chinese novel Journey to the West, and what’s EXTRA special, is that said novel was adapted into a very familiar property, you’re probably familiar with this name; Dragon Ball!

So we have Dragon Ball, then comes Sonic who shares a lot of similarities with characters, objects, and certain transformations, NOW we have Oshima himself giving the world his own actual adaptation of the character that was Goku’s main inspiration (notice how Goku has all of his letters in the name Wukong backwards?). Full circle much?

Major thanks to duckroll at NeoGAF for taking all of the screenshots above. 🙂

Naoto Oshima designs guest characters in Terra Battle, someone looks familiar



Wait a minute, you’re not Sonic, this is impossible!

Well that looks like Sonic because those characters above were designed by Naoto Oshima, known as the original character designer of Sonic, Eggman, and others from Sonic 1, all the way to his departure from Sega to form Artoon (and its successor Arzest where he now resides) in 1999 after Sonic Adventure was released.

This is for a game called Terra Battle, which is by Mistwalker for mobile devices, created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy. Arzest even contributed to the game earlier, credited for “Illustration and graphic design for monsters, scenery, etc”. Oshima contributed these guest character designs for a Daily Quest in the game as shown, which will start its rotation next Friday.

What I can’t help but wonder, is why these look so similar to Yuji Uekawa’s artwork, especially in the original Sonic Adventure. What do you folks think about this?

Kickstarter for Megadrive / Genesis Retrospective Art Book Launches


The popularity of crowdsourcing to fund projects has gained much momentum recently, and only a few months ago, we featured a news article for the Not Enough Rings parody comic book, which was successfully funded.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the release of the SEGA Mega Drive (or Genesis, depending on where you live), a new kickstarter project has been launched by Read-Only Memory (creators of the Sensible Software book) which will be of interest to many of you: SEGA Megadrive / Genesis: Collected Works. This project looks to be nothing short of amazing, describing itself as a compendium of production artwork, interviews and development sketches.

The book will of course showcase a host of Sonic the Hedgehog material, but will also contain much from other loved franchises such as Streets of Rage, Phantasy Star and Golden Axe to name a few; it also aims to feature images and illustrations that have seldom been seen by the public across its 300 pages.

In addition to this, the creators of the book have already secured interviews with an incredibly impressive line-up of SEGA staff, past and present, including Naoto Oshima, Kazuyuki Hoshino, Yuji Naka, Yuzo Koshiro and Yu Suzuki.

For a pledge of £30 (about $45), you can secure yourself a copy of what is set to be the ultimate coffee table history book. If you’ve got the cash to splash, £250 will not only get you a copy of the book, but an exclusive limited edition print (1 of 100), created by Naoto Oshima, especially for the campaign.

At time of writing, the campaign has already doubled its initial funding goal, so you can pledge in confidence. This is surely one book you don’t want to miss out on!

[P.S. If you love your kick-starters, you might want to check out Far From Faith, a comic set to be animated by the very talented Lynne Triplet, known to many of you at TRiPPY of NiGHTS fame!]

Sonic the Hedgehog Facebook Page Gains 2 Million Fans

The official Sonic the Hedgehog Facebook page has gained over two million fans, and as a thank you, SEGA has released two never-before-seen sketches of Classic and Modern Sonic, which are drawn by their original artists Naoto Oshima and Yuji Uekawa. You can view them in our gallery below.

Source: Sonic the Hedgehog Facebook page (via Sonic Paradise)

Yuji Naka Chills Out With Naoto Oshima and Takashi Iizuka

You probably thought that most of the Sonic Team Old Guard don’t really get on. Well, today Yuji Naka proved that this was not the case, as he posted photos on his Twitter account about an encounter with Sonic the Hedgehog designer Naoto Oshima! The artist, who left Sega shortly after Sonic Adventure to form Artoon, visited Naka’s PROPE studio and brought with him a little gift.

I think it’s fair to say we all want that picture. Yuji Naka then posted a Tweet with the following photo, adding that current Sonic Team boss Takashi Iizuka joined the pair for some dinner in a local grilled chicken restaurant. Beers in hand as well, it seems like. The Japanese work hard and dine hard as well, it seems.

This funky meeting of minds most likely served absolutely no purpose other than to have old friends sit down and have a few drinks – but no doubt the topic of Sonic will come up. We can just imagine Naka-san asking Iizuka how work is like, with Iizuka throwing his hands up and jovially exclaiming “oh you know, the same old. That crazy fanbase, eh?” followed by chuckles around the table.

All three developers have had a big hand in shaping Sonic into the gaming icon he is today – Naka-san programmed the original Sonic games, and led Sonic Team during the Dreamcast era, while Naoto Oshima designed the Sonic characters themselves. Takashi Iizuka, although he largely oversees development on modern Sonic titles, began his tenure at the studio working as a level designer for Sonic 3 and Knuckles, and was the lead game designer for NiGHTS into Dreams.

Yuji Naka’s Twitter

Nintendo Power Interview Naoto Oshima

Naoto Oshima deserves far more credit for the Sonic the Hedgehog series than he ever got during his employment at SEGA Enterprises. The creator of the Sonic character, he has also directed many games and headed projects at Sonic Team, including NiGHTS Into Dreams with Yuji Naka and Sonic CD. He left SEGA shortly after Sonic Adventure, and his lack of presence showed even in Sonic Adventure 2. Forming Artoon though has been a rocky ride for the guy who wants to be the “Walt Disney” of video games, with the amicable Blinx his first non-SEGA creation following the lacklustre Pinobee and questionable sequels to Yoshi’s Island. It’s been an undeserved fall from grace for the poor guy.

Nintendo Power have an interview with the game designer/creator, and about his history in the video game industry. It’s a real interesting read, and Oshima comes across as a really humble guy, taking on all sorts of roles to get a feel for every aspect of game design. One of the ‘original three’ that most fans really count in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise – the other two being programmer Yuji Naka and level designer Hirokazu Yasuhara – he says that he feels best when he’s designing stuff for games. This is in parallel to Naka’s admission to fancying more of a ‘hands on’ approach to making games, shortly before he left Sonic Team to form his own studio.

Other interesting nuggets include his role in Sonic Spinball – he designed the pinball maps for the game, which regardless of your opinion of the spinoff Mega Drive game are pretty decent maps – his entrusting of Sonic’s modern design to Yuji Uekawa from Sonic Adventure onwards (“I think he did a great job”) and lends more credibility to the theory that Sonic CD and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are practically two odds to the same project (“Naka [was sent] to America [to work on] the Genesis version, which… left me to develop the CD version in Japan”).

You can read the article via scans of the magazine, here for Page 1 and here for Page 2.

Naoto Oshima Interview In Nintendo Power – SSMB (thanks NintendoBrad)