Yuji Naka speaks out over Balan Wonderworld development woes

It’s no secret that Balan Wonderworld is a game that suffered during development. The extent of what happened was largely unknown, with director Yuji Naka having departed Square Enix back in April 2021 following the game’s release a month earlier. Taking to Twitter today, we finally have an answer – Yuji Naka was forcibly removed from the project half a year before release for several reasons which amounted to a lawsuit with Square Enix and a game that was released unfinished. Now that he’s not bound by company rules, he decided to speak out.

In an English translation provided by Cheesemeister3K, Yuji Naka writes, “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, Ohshima told producer Fujimoto that the relationship with Arzest was ruined due to comments I made wanting to improve the game in the face of Arzest submitting the game without fixing bugs.”

Yuji Naka goes on to say that he had to deal with troubles from the producer and the development schedule being so tight – something entirely out of Yuji Naka’s control. It’s then he felt 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.”

Additionally, Square Enix banned him from engaging on social media and he apologizes for not being able to react to the many comments and illustrations that were posted about Balan Wonderworld. “Myself, I’m truly sorry to the customers who bought Balan Wonderworld in an unfinished state,” Yuji Naka goes on to say. “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. 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.”

About the Author

Erren Van Duine As a self-professed Final Fantasy fan, Erren created Nova Crystallis in 2009 as a place to collect the latest information on her favorite series. As owner and Editor-in-Chief, she also spends her time as a freelance illustrator.