Sonic The Hedgehog Co-Creator and director of the poorly received Balan Wonderworld, Yuji Naka has said that Square Enix removed him from directing Balan Wonderworld six months before launch when he was trying to further improve the game.
As a result, he attempted to take the publisher to court.
Over a year after the game’s 2021 release, the director posted a series of tweets expressing his experience working with Square Enix on Balan, including his removal from the project.
— Yuji Naka / 中 裕司 (@nakayuji) April 28, 2022
“Approximately half a year before the launch of Balan Wonderworld, a business order was issued that I was to be removed from directing of Balan Wonderworld, so I filed a lawsuit against Square Enix in court. I would like to talk about this now that the trial is over and the business order is no longer in effect. #BalanWonderworld“
In his tweets, Naka explains that the decision to remove him was decided by the producer, promotional partner, sound director, project director, and HR.
He states that Square Enix decided to remove him due to two incidents. The first was when a Youtuber was hired to play an arranged version of a song from the game for promotional purposes instead of the original. Naka asserted that the original track be used instead.
The second, and more significant factor was that co-developer Arzest had submitted the final build of the game which was filled with “known bugs.” Naka wanted them to make further improvements which were denied by the game’s producer who wanted to keep to a “tight schedule”.
“Personally, I’m very sorry that ‘Balan Wonderworld’ was released in such an unfinished state. I wanted to further improve various things and put out a great action game. I think Square Enix and Arzest are companies that don’t care about games or their fans.”
Naka left Square Enix in 2021 following the poor reception and sales of Balan Wonderworld. He is currently working as an indie developer and has made a mobile game by himself.
It should be noted that Yuji Naka is known for being rather difficult to work with. For example, he once threatened to leave Sega because the American studio Sega Technical Institute wished to use the engine he worked on for ‘Nights Into Dreams’ in their upcoming title ‘Sonic X-Treme’.
As of this article Square Enix has not responded to these accusations.