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Yuji Naka took Square Enix to court over unfinished Balan Wonderworld

Veteran developer says he was removed as director of the project six months before the game launched

Long-serving development icon Yuji Naka has revealed details of a dispute between himself and Square Enix over the state of Balan Wonderworld.

The game launched in March last year to poor reviews, with a Metacritic score as low as 36 on Switch and peaking at 51 on PlayStation 5. Three months later, it emerged that he had left Square Enix.

In a Twitter thread, he today claimed "a business order" removed him as the game's director around half a year before launch, and that he filed a lawsuit against Square Enix over the matter.

Now that the trial is over and the business order is no longer in effect, he has shared more details.

According to Google's translation of the tweets, his removal appears to be around two disputes: one concerning the use of a YouTuber to play the game music in the marketing, rather than using the original score, and the other over co-developer Arzest submitting the game for release without fixing various issues.

He added that games should be "made by striving to make it a good game until the end, and wanting game fans to enjoy it when they buy it" but commented that the “tight schedule” was set by Square Enix's producer, rather than himself.

Naka also observed that game creators are often improving games right up until the last minute, citing an example from his days on the original Sonic the Hedgehog, when the game was changed to make Sonic survive any hit so long as the player had one ring in possession.

"Personally, I'm really sorry that I released the unfinished work Balan Wonderworld to the world," he wrote. "I wanted to think about various things and put it out in a proper form as an action game."

"I think Square Enix and Arzest are companies that don't care about games and game fans."

GamesIndustry.biz has contacted Square Enix for comment.

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James Batchelor

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James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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