Yuji Naka was removed as the director of Balan Wonderworld about half a year before its release and filed a lawsuit against publisher Square Enix, the creator revealed in a series of tweets.
The Sonic the Hedgehog creator, who also is the president and CEO of his own company Prope, left Square Enix at the end of April 2021 for reasons he was unable to share at the time.
Now, Naka has revealed that he was forcibly removed from the project, and claims that Square Enix released the game in an unfinished state when it launched for for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC via Steam on March 26, 2021.
Get the full thread of tweets below, as translated by @Cheesemeister3k.
“I was removed as the director of Balan Wonderworld about half a year before release, so I filed a lawsuit against Square Enix. Now that the proceedings are over and I’m no longer bound by company rules, I’d like to speak out.
“I think it’s wrong of Square Enix not to value games and game fans. According to court documents, I was removed as the director of Balan Wonderworld for two reasons. It was done by the producer, head of marketing, head of sound, managing director, and human resources.
“First, when a YouTuber’s arranged piano performance of the game music was released in a promotion instead of the original game track, turning the composer into a ghostwriter, I insisted that the original track be released and this caused trouble.
“Second, according to court documents, [Naoto] Ohshima told producer [Noriyoshi] Fujimoto that the relationship with [developer] Arzest was ruined due to comments I made wanting to improve the game in the face of Arzest submitting the game without fixing bugs.
“Also, in an e-mail from Ohshima to Fujimoto, he wrote: ‘I just told the staff about the demo delay. When I told them, ‘This was producer Fujimoto’s decision. Let’s do our best for him,’ the staff applauded and cheered. This was unexpected, and I was moved… The staff’s been down lately, but their spirits have been revived. Thank you very much. All of us on the staff will work hard.’ So the schedule wasn’t up to me, but the producer, yet the schedule being tight was the producer’s doing. Something was off.
“We were releasing an original game, but only putting out an arranged track was definitely wrong. I believe that the game music that everyone can hum out are the original tracks.
“I believe that every effort must be put in to make games the best they can be until the very end so that game fans will enjoy what they buy. It wasn’t right to, without discussion, remove and completely disassociate from the project a director saying so.
“Retweeting, liking, etc. on social media and such was banned, so I don’t think Square Enix values game fans. There were many comments and wonderful illustrations about Balan Wonderworld, and I’m really sorry that I couldn’t react to them.
“Myself, I’m truly sorry to the customers who bought Balan Wonderworld in an unfinished state. From this point onward, I will be able to react to posts tagging me or directed only toward me on social media and such.
“I believe that when making games, asking for fixes in order to make something good should be a given, and if that’s not possible, it should be talked over, but it looks like they can’t. I don’t think they value games.
“For Sonic the Hedgehog, two weeks before finalizing, the specifications were changed so that if you have even one ring, you won’t die. This now well-known rule was the result of improving the game until the very end, and people world-over have enjoyed it as a result.
“Improving a game until the very end is what being a game creator is all about, and if that’s not possible, something’s wrong. I asked my lawyer to negotiate my just being able to comment until the end of production, but their refusal led me to file suit.
“I think that the resulting Balan Wonderworld and the critical reception it received have a lot to do with what happened. I’m really disappointed that a product I worked on from the start turned out this way.”