Yuji Naka Leaves Square Enix after Balan Wonderworld Failure

It appears that famed video game programmer Yuji Naka is no longer employed with Square Enix.

On Thursday, Naka updated his “Work and Education” section of his official Facebook profile, reflecting that his employment with Square Enix had ended on April 30th, 2021.

Screenshot of Naka’s Facebook profile.

His exit seems to have come just over a month after his latest game Balan Wonderworld failed to impress both critically and commercially.

The multiplatform game received very negative reviews aimed at everything from its poor quality graphics, clumsy controls, and plethora of performance issues. Metacritic states that the PS5 version had the highest scores with 51/100, while the Switch version had an abysmal 36/100. Sales were also extremely poor, with it being reported that it sold less than 2,100 copies in its opening week in Japan.

Naka’s departure from Square Enix shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as he had admitted in September of 2020 that Balan Wonderworld was his “one chance” to make a 3D platformer for the company.

Yuji Naka is best known as the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, with his last game in the franchise being Sonic Riders in 2006. In March of that year, Naka left Sega to form his own studio, Prope, which released numerous budget titles primarily on mobile devices. The last game Prope developed was StreetPass Fishing for the Nintendo 3DS. In 2019, Naka confirmed that Prope had downsized to a “one-person company” since the end of April, 2017.

What do you think Naka’s future plans are? Will he return to Sega to assist with the Sonic franchise, which has seen renewed vigor after 2019’s feature film? Will he rebuild Prope and continue overseeing titles there? Or should we expect to see a retirement announcement coming from him soon? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Source: Yuji Naka

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