Balan Wonderworld director Yuji Naka was apparently removed from his position six months before the game’s launch. Naka went on to file a lawsuit against publisher Square Enix, citing that they knew the game was unfinished but went ahead with its release anyway. He has also criticised Square Enix for this decision.
As reported by Yuji Naka in a recent Twitter post (roughly translated by Nibellion), the director was fired from his position as director on Balan Wonderworld at least six months before the game released. Naka went on to state plenty of scathing comments about Square Enix, Arzest and their lack of care for their games and fans.
Nibellion provided a translation of Naka’s thread about his time working on Balan Wonderworld, being let go from the project at Square Enix and the lawsuit that followed (which has now concluded). Keep in mind, this isn’t an entirely accurate translation but the just of the scathing comments are clear.
Balan Wonderworld released in 2021 to mostly negative reviews, with most of the criticism levelled at the game’s half-baked content, unpolished gameplay and mechanics, bugs and more. The release was widely considered to be one of Square Enix’s worst in their history, garnering plenty of “worst game of the year” nods.
Yuji Naka, who previously worked on the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise at SEGA as its lead programmer, was used in some of the game’s marketing as a new vision behind Sonic’s co-creator. However, with these reports now coming to light, it seems a little suspicious in retrospect.
“I think Square Enix and Arzest are companies that do not care about games and game fans,” said Naka in his thread. He concludes with this somber note including how he originally envisioned Balan Wonderworld to be more of an action game that’s probably nothing like what the final product turned out to be.