Yuji Naka has started from scratch to make a mobile game following Balan Wonderworld

For his 56th birthday, former Sonic Team lead and Balan Wonderworld director Yuji Naka went back to learning to code and is working on a mobile game.


Yuji Naka has been a creative force behind a lot of iconic gaming franchises throughout the decades. Starting as a programmer on games like Space Harrier and the original Phantasy Star RPGs, he worked his way into the launch of Sonic the Hedgehog, Nights into Dreams, and more. Unfortunately, his most recent work at Square Enix on Balan Wonderworld and its lukewarm reception saw him leave the company. However, that’s not the last we’ll hear from Naka. Apparently he’s went back to freshening up on his knowledge of coding and programming and is making a mobile game.

Naka announced this update via his personal Twitter on September 17, 2021. For his 56th birthday, Naka took to his Twitter to share that he was studying programming again. He further shared that the purpose of this study was to learn more about Unity and develop a mobile game. It’s apparently a one-person project, so there’s no telling when/if we’ll get to see the fruits of Naka’s work, but he wants to release it on app storefronts someday.

It’s good to see a talent of Naka’s caliber and imagination isn’t completely out of the game. Balan Wonderworld was by no means perfect. It just felt like there was large pieces missing from the picture. Still, it was a very colorful picture full of interesting ideas and gorgeous music to go with it. There had already been reports that Naka had a hard time getting the game greenlit at Square Enix and his continued work at the company could have been based on how it did. Ultimately, Balan felt rushed and we saw how that turned when he exited the company in June 2021.

With no rushed deadlines or anyone really telling him what to do with his current endeavors, it will be interesting to see what Naka comes up with. Mobile or not, when we learn more about his new game, you can expect to see it here at Shacknews.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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