Update: Yuji Naka has now confirmed via his personal Twitter account that he has indeed departed Square Enix (as previously believed, it happened back in April), but stated that he can't explain the reason at the time of writing.
Here's the full statement as translated by Video Games Chronicle:
“Because of inquiries from the media and users, I can confirm I resigned from Square Enix at the end of April 2021.
I can’t tell you why right now, but I hope to be able to tell you when the time comes. As for my future activities, I’m already 55 years old, so I might retire.”
Original story: Well, this is sad. Yuji Naka, the former head of Team Sonic and most recently the director of Balan Wonderworld, seems to have parted ways with Square Enix.
Naka joined Square Enix in 2018, where he began work on Balan Wonderworld. Just three short years later and following the poor reception to Balan Wonderworld, it appears Naka has left the company. The news was spotted on his Facebook profile by some eagle eyed fans, who noticed his work experience listed he left Square Enix on April 30.
Naka previously spoke to IGN about the creation of Balan Wonderworld last year. At the time, he stated that it was was "one chance" to make a platform action game for Square Enix. Unfortunately, sales of the game have been drastically low, with it hitting bargain bin prices at most retailers.
He also added that he thinks "Square Enix has an RPG image", something which he didn't think he would be good at making. It appears his "one chance" may have come and gone after Balan Wonderworld. We were not fans of the game here at Pure Xbox, but it's still sad to see such a creative mind at the centre of a critical and financial flop.
It's not confirmed whether Naka has been let go or left on his own terms, but it's sad either way. We're still excited to see what he has instore in the future, as despite Balan Wonderworld, he's worked on some incredible titles.
What do you think about Naka's alleged departure from Square Enix? Let us know in the comments below.
[source twitter.com, via videogameschronicle.com]
I guess this explains why these legendary devs that leave so they can make spiritual successors to their games/game style, go indie.
Based on everything i heard Balan wonderland was not a good game. Not sure if he's to blame for being stuck in the past or if not enough time and resources were provided to help make the game he wanted....but it clearly didn't work.
I mean, it's sad cause he seems like a very honest and kind person even when he should be promoting his game, but such an unmitigated disaster just can't be ignored.
I'd be pretty p*ssed too, if I'd hired a legendary senior dev and he came up with this.
I'm actually quite keen to check out Balan Wonderland despite the negative press but unfortunately it will have to be bargain bin for me.
I wish Sega would put out a Billy Hatcher remaster!
Can we make a cringy and over the top dance rutine in order to mend his heart?
I played the demo and enjoyed the old school Dreamcast charm of it. A few patches and some extra polish could have made it a pretty good game. I assume it will just remain as it is now. Shame.
One to pick up at a bargain price, it has already been on sale once on the Xbox store, 33% off if I recall correctly.
I am sure he will be back, with a spiritual successor to his spiritual successor, look out for Bolon Wanderwald: Rebirth, published by Ratalaika in 2025.
And boy did he blow his one chance
Dudes overrated af.
Been there, done that. Formed his own studio after Sega canned him. Produced nothing of note.
Sad, yet I cannot believe a vet like him would allow such a dump of a game to get released...
@Carck Lol 06'!?!? So right after the worst Sonic game of all time?! This all makes a lot more sense now why this game sucks.
The Mega Drive Sonic games (1, 2, 3&K) are masterpieces of the fourth generation. I played Balan Wonderworld demo. It's a very rough game, like a very early built so I guess it's not all his fault. Why the demo and the game were released in such state is beyond my comprehension. I wish him the best.
@Steel76 Bunch of blokes that feel like they haven't played a game in 25 years. Crazy that anyone gives them money to make anything. Also, two of them are Sega blokes. Weird...
Lots of indy throwbacks that are great of course but the old timers seem mostly out of touch. The only non Nintendo person that has done anything recently that I enjoy is Koji Igarashi. Symphony of the Night and Bloodstained are both masterpieces.
I think he is very capable of having a great style and feel to his games, but for some reason he was obsessed with this 90's attitude of making Balan Wonderworld this game centered around being very kid friendly, which didn't work out at all. He needs to realize how his fanbase has grown up and the industry has grown up as well, not that he needs to be making mature games, but he shouldn't be holding them back to what he thinks young children would want.
Q) What do you think about Naka's alleged departure from Square Enix?
A) As someone who has enjoyed Yuji Naka's work, including Balan Wonderworld (currently doing a co-op playthrough with my brother on our YouTube channel), this is disappointing news to hear. Unsurprising given the (overly) harsh reception this game received, but disappointing to hear all the same.
This also means Balan Wonderworld is very unlikely to receive a new game, which is a real shame as despite enjoying the game a lot, I could still think of plenty to add or tweak to improve it.
"As for my future activities, I’m already 55 years old, so I might retire."
And do what? Fart for the next 25 years? What a depressing human being.
@gingataisen well, maybe he means retire from the gaming industry?
As he is a creative person I have no doubts he will continue to be creative and do things of value with his life, but his career in gaming may be over.
My Grandpa retired from engineering at 50. He cared for my grandma full time as she had health problems. But he also perused his hobbies, winning multiple national awards for photography and he taught it locally for free. He was a skilled metal worker who made ornaments and gates and things for neighbours, again for free. And every year at Christmas he made the most amazing Christmas light displays and allowed families to walk around his garden and different kids would turn on each night which the local council honoured him with an award for just before he died.
Retirement doesn’t mean you stop doing anything.
@Kienda Okay, so no farting then. He's still depressing, though. 🤨
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