Square Enix has been making some just… wonderful decisions lately. Selling Tomb Raider, Deux Ex, and basically all their Western studios for a fire sale price of $300 million? Genius. Planning to invest that money heavily in the blockchain, even after the crypto market crashed last week and 99% of gamers have been yelling about how much they hate NFTs for a year? Brilliant as an ape JPG that costs $46 million. And now, they’re mustering support behind their greatest title for some much needed cred: no, not Final Fantasy XIV, but 2021 platforming masterpiece(?) Balan Wonderworld a game the company not only recommends, but recommends with confidence. Wowee!
Square Enix confirmed it had lawsuit case with Yuji Naka but declined to comment further. As for Balan Wonderworld, "it is a game that we recommend with confidence." (from Q&A session during earnings briefing)
— Takashi Mochizuki (@6d6f636869) May 13, 2022
Now, while a very funny statement to make on its own if you know the game at all, there’s actually a lot of context behind it. Yuji Naka, Sonic creator and producer for BW, was apparently fired six months before the game was set to launch and sued Square Enix over it, saying he was sacked for trying to improve the game’s quality up to release, going so far as to say the company doesn’t value games. Square’s recommendation with confidence comes as a response to Naka’s lawsuit, which they acknowledge existing but don’t comment further upon. Basically, Naka apologized for the game’s poor state and Squeenix responded with “wdym it’s fiiiiine. Good, even!”
Now, Naka has a reputation for being hard to work with (described as an “arrogant pain in the ass” by an American developer on Sonic 2) but it’s a little hard to say Balan Wonderworld released in tiptop shape. And while certain fans thought it was a game with some promise marred by poor execution, others think it was rotten down to the base design decisions. So it’s possible that Naka was being a bit of a curmudgeon and was let go for causing disruptions. Or that Square Enix really doesn’t value games (a sentiment I find more believable with each passing day at this point). Or maybe both are true. Either way, the Balan Wonderworld we got is not the one anyone fully wanted.
We’ll have to see how Naka’s lawsuit pans out. In the meantime, you can… play Balan Wonderworld? Or any other video game. Like Sonic! Sonic is good. Love that hedgehog.
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