When we reviewed Balan Wonderworld, there was high hopes for former Sonic Team lead and creative Yuji Naka’s latest foray into action platforming, but the reality of the game was harsh. There were a lot of charming elements, but it was tied down to half-baked gameplay and felt unfinished in a lot of areas. Reportedly, Naka agrees. The Balan Wonderworld director recently went into detail on how he was removed from the project, it was shipped unfinished, and how he took legal action against Square Enix over the matter.
Naka shared details of what happened with Balan Wonderworld and his lawsuit against Square Enix in a recent Twitter thread. In the thread, Naka lays out a scathing account of what occurred, including how decisions were made without him by Square Enix about fixing up and releasing a polished version of the game. Notably, Naka claims there were disputes over releasing Balan Wonderworld’s soundtrack (one of the few high points of the final game), as well as when to release the final version of the game. A machine-translated version of Yuki Naka’s tweets can be found below as shared by Nibel on Twitter. Some of the language may be inaccurate or differ from actual intent.
There is no doubt that Balan Wonderworld felt like a rush job. In our Shacknews review of the game, we went into detailed critique on how the charm was there, some magic and interesting was there, but a lot of it just felt unfinished. As far as we knew, it led to Yuji Naka leaving Square Enix after its underperformance. Ultimately, Naka would go on to create a new studio at which he claims to be creating a new mobile game. However, this string of tweets confirms what was already kind of known. Balan Wonderworld should have never come out in the state it was in, but Square Enix rushed it.
It's a shame what happened with Balan Wonderworld and Naka’s efforts on the game, which increasingly appear to be the result of executive meddling. With that said, hopefully Naka’s next efforts come out better as he finishes his lawsuit against Square Enix.