Square Enix Refuses To Comment on Wonderworld Yuji Naka’s Balan Lawsuit

Image: Square Enix

Update #2 [Fri 13th May, 2022 11:45 BST] As part of Square Enix’s earnings report today, the company has confirmed that it has a lawsuit with Yuji Naka, but declined to comment further. The only response the leading Japanese developer gave was to say that Balan Wonderworld “is a game that we recommend with complete confidence.”

This was shared on Twitter by a Bloomberg reporter Takashi Mochizuki:

Update #1 [Thu 28th Apr, 2022 14:15 BST] We now have a more accurate translation of Yuji Naka’s tweet, courtesy of Twitter user Cheesemeister.

The tone of the message is very similar to that of machine translated, but it’s more clear here that Yuji Naka thinks that the poor reception to Balan Wonderworld is a result of behind-the-scenes events.

We’ve pinned the beginning of the translated thread, and also included a full translation of Naka’s tweet below.

I was removed as director of Wonderworld Balan about half a year before its release, so I filed a lawsuit against Square Enix. Now that the process is complete and I am no longer bound by company regulations, I would like to speak.

I think Square Enix is ​​wrong if it doesn’t value games and game fans. According to court documents, I was dismissed as the director of Balan Wonderworld for 2 reasons. This is done by the producer, head of marketing, head of sound, chief executive, and HR.

First, when a YouTuber’s arranged game music piano piano performance was released in promotion instead of the original game track, turning the composer into a shadow writer, I insisted that the original track be released 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 a comment I made wanting to improve the game in the face of Arzest submitting the game without fixing any bugs.

Also, in an email from Ohshima to Fujimoto, he wrote: ‘I just informed the staff about the postponement of the demo. When I tell them, ‘This is a push. Fujimoto’s decision. Let’s do our best for him,’ the staff clapped and cheered. This was unexpected, and I was moved…

The staff had been down lately, but their morale had been revived. Thank you very much. All of us as staff will work hard.’ So the schedule is not mine, but the producer, but the busy schedule is the work of the producer. Something went wrong.

We released the original game, but only releasing the tracks that are set is definitely wrong. I believe that the game music that everyone can listen to is the original song.

I believe that every effort should be made to make the game the best until the end so that game fans will enjoy what they buy. That is not true, without discussion, delete and completely disassociate from the project a director said so.

Retweeting, liking, etc. on SNS and such are banned, so I don’t think Square Enix respects game fans. There are many wonderful comments and illustrations about Balan Wonderworld, and I’m so sorry I couldn’t react to them.

Myself, I truly apologize to the customer who purchased the Wonderworld Balan unfinished. From now on, I will be able to react to posts that are tagged in me or addressed only to me on SNS and such.

I believe that when making games, asking for improvements to make something good should be given, and if that’s not possible, it should be talked about, but it doesn’t seem possible. I don’t think they appreciate the game.

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

Upgrading the game to the end is all about being a game maker, and if that’s not possible, something is wrong. I asked my lawyers to negotiate so I could comment until the end of production, but their refusal led me to file a lawsuit.

I think the resulting Wonderworld Balan and the critical reception it has received has a lot to do with what happened. I am very disappointed that the product I was working on from scratch turned out to be like this.

Thanks Cheesemeister for this translation.

Yuji Naka compares his firing to when he was working on Sonic the Hedgehog, where he worked until the last minute to implement the mechanics that are now essential to the series. It seemed he believed that if he was allowed to remain on the ship, he could pay the same attention and care to Wonderworld Balan.

Last summer, Naka announced that he was leaving Square Enix at the end of April 2021 and plans to retire, despite the well-known game developer’s entry into the mobile gaming market. His leaving Square Enix is ​​likely different from his transfer as Balan Wonderworld director.

Original article: The Wonderworld Balancing was a pretty big disappointment for many. Fan of Yuji Naka (platforming flop director) and his work on various Sonic title, Night becomes a dream, and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg saw the Square Enix published platformer at its announcement and were blown away by the music and visuals. It evokes the platformers of the Dreamcast era, and we crave it.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan, and Wonderworld Balan was dubbed the worst Switch game of 2021, but it looks like more is going on behind the scenes. Today, on Twitter, Yuji Naka revealed that he had actually been removed as the game’s director six months before its launch. Many still credit a lot of Balan Wonderworld to Naka, so it’s quite surprising, but the original Sonic the Hedgehog programmers didn’t stop there.

Naka filed a lawsuit against Square Enix, which is now over, but in a Twitter thread, he covered up how displeased he was with the many decisions made by Square Enix and co-developer Arzest. Naka knew that the game wasn’t finished and needed more work, and he wanted to help with that, but the removal of Square Enix from him meant he couldn’t.

At the moment, we only have machine translations via Nibel and DeepL of what Yuji Naka had to say, but even so, it’s clear that his mind is scathing on this issue:

Naka deeply apologized to fans who picked up the game across his threads while specifically pointing to Square Enix:

I think Square Enix is ​​not taking good care of their gaming fans due to retweets, likes, etc. Also prohibited on social networking sites. There are many excellent comments and illustrations about Balan Wonderworld, and I’m so sorry I can’t do anything about it.

It seemed like Yuji Naka wanted to give the fans what they wanted, and since he was removed as director, he couldn’t do anything about it. His closing statement sums up this sentiment perfectly:

To me, it is a real shame that you have released your unfinished masterpiece “Balan Wonderworld” to the world. I wanted to release it to the world as an action game in its proper form with various things in mind. 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 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 sounds like now might be a good time to reread our own retrospective defense in light of this context:

If we learn more about the situation, we’ll let you know.


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