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    Balan Wonderworld

    Game » consists of 2 releases. Released Mar 26, 2021

    Balan Wonderworld is a one-button 3D platformer directed by former Sonic Team head Yuji Naka.

    Yuji Naka says he was pulled off Balan Wonderworld, the game was unfinished, filed a lawsuit against Square Enix.

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    brian_

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    #1  Edited By brian_

    https://twitter.com/nakayuji/status/1519694607222644736

    Translated by a machine, so it's kind of tough to make out clearly in some spots, but the gist of his claims seems to be that Square didn't seem to have much faith in the game, and just kind of squirted this thing out by any means necessary.

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    AV_Gamer

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    The plot thickens. Too bad Jeff G didn't keep his word and finished streaming the game. Though I get it, you can only stomach a bad game so much before it makes you feel ill.

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    BisonHero

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    Well, Jeff G at GB and Jeff G at GB are going to have something to say about that.

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    MindBullet

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    #4  Edited By MindBullet

    Here's a tweet thread of someone doing a non-machine translation of the original Japanese tweets:

    What a weird situation. On the one hand, previous coworkers have pointed out that Naka can be kind of a shithead, his career has been a wild downswing since Sonic and by his own account his own team banded together to kick him off the project.

    On the other hand, SE and Arzest haven't really done anything to earn the benefit of the doubt, and Naka makes a point to say that both of them messed up in meaningful ways involving buggy builds and the pitiful soundtrack.

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    eccentrix

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    Here's a tweet thread of someone doing a non-machine translation of the original Japanese tweets:

    Thanks, I was about to ask for this. I didn't understand the music stuff, but now it makes sense.

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    theonewhoplays

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    From what I've seen or that game they should have kicked him off the team much earlier.

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    ZombiePie

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    I really question if better music and an added six months would have righted this ship. Yuji Naka's recent creative output (Rodea the Skysoldier) paints a grim picture about where he is as a design/programming lead and testimonies after the fact in Sega point to him being a not great person to work with. If you want "timeless" legends from this era of Japanese game development, look to Yuji Hori or Miyamoto.

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    FinalDasa

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    #8  Edited By FinalDasa  Moderator

    Release the #YujiNakaCut

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    brian_

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    bigsocrates

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    @zombiepie: As probably the only person in this thread who has actually finished the game (or at least rolled credits on it; there are additional levels that open after the last boss) I can say with a lot of confidence that basically nothing could have saved this game except a radical rethink of what they were actually making.

    It's a bad idea badly executed. It doesn't come off as particularly technically incompetent or badly programmed, the issues are with the fundamental design. Now he mentions the Sonic 2 ring thing, and there are some fixes like that that might have seriously improved it. Add a jump button for every costume, make it so that once you've collected a costume you can always re-equip it at a checkpoint. Those two easily implemented things would have made it much better. But we're talking about moving from a 3/10 to a 4/10 here.

    The game just isn't good, especially for 2021. The levels aren't particularly interesting, the powers are repetitive and some flat out suck, the camera isn't great etc... The whole idea of a one button 3D platformer is bad, especially when the levels aren't at all designed to take advantage of the game design. It's the kind of game you'd expect to see as a late PlayStation or early PS2 game when people were still figuring out how to make 3D games, but even then it's not as good as something like Spyro.

    Remember that this is a game where the story come in a separate novel you need to purchase to read it. It's a game released in 2021 with multiple Quicktime events in every level, where if you make a single mistake you don't get the trophy, and you need to replay the level to retry the event.

    There's stuff in BW that's kind of fun and the music is good and the aesthetics can be interesting but this was not a product you could salvage without throwing out most of the work and starting over.

    Naka hasn't said that Square interfered with the concept of the game or made him make something radically different than he was envisioning so the blame mostly rests with him.

    That's not to say he wasn't treated badly, but it's a bad game at almost every level and as the driving creative force behind that he needs to own it.

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    tartyron

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    #11  Edited By tartyron

    Kind of a big news Monday for Squeenix, huh? I'm getting Konami vibes from them lately. Selling off IP and having a recent history of contention with their creative directors, all while trying to promote a new business model (this time blockchain instead of pachinko). It's all giving be deja vu.

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    bigsocrates

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    @tartyron: Eh. They are making two big Final Fantasy games and announced a new Kingdom Hearts. This to me is more like Activision in that they are doubling down on their super profitable core franchises and stopping with the smaller and less profitable projects. They lost a bunch on CD’s last game (Avengers) and their western studios have never been hit makers. SqEnix makes money on its JRPG and associated spin offs and that is what their focus is.

    I wouldn’t even say it’s a bad business move though I liked some of their Western developed games. But that’s not where the company excels commercially.

    Regardless they have released a bunch of games recently, announced more, and have some healthy big franchises so I do not think the Konami comparison is fair.

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    tartyron

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    #13  Edited By tartyron

    @bigsocrates: Fair. Like I said in the other thread about the western studio sale to embracer, I have zero evidence of this I could readily cite, just sort of a gut feeling. Squeenix has a few more irons in the fire and is still more generally successful than Konami was when they transitioned, and I know that MMO money alone is likely enough to keep then from being bought outright, but it is still interesting to me how they are becoming more insular, sort of returning to a Japan-only studio. As you say, maybe the right move. Or maybe they are shedding what they can for a higher price now to find a happy medium to sell themselves to Sony. Or maybe the lizard government wrote all these moves down on the hieroglyphs found in the antarctic. Who knows. Just hope we get a new Deus Ex and FF7remake part 2 in the not too distant future and this all does seem to suggest that reality could happen. Yuji Naka having much of a career moving forward, well, maybe not so much. I really don't know who is in the right for this conflict, but I tend to side with creators over companies. But also Balan was so bad top to bottom that maybe none of Yuji's complaints are actually valid because I don't think there was saving it from whatever fever dream possessed him to create it in the first place.

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    ZombiePie

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    @tartyron said:

    Kind of a big news Monday for Squeenix, huh? I'm getting Konami vibes from them lately. Selling off IP and having a recent history of contention with their creative directors, all while trying to promote a new business model (this time blockchain instead of pachinko). It's all giving be deja vu.

    There are two popular theories going on right now.

    1) Square-Enix is going to lean into non-gaming enterprises like NFTs. They already have an anime, manga, light novel, and arcade game division. These divisions can very quickly transpose into NFTs and blockchain enterprises.

    2) Square-Enix sold their Western divisions to put themselves in a better position to be bought. It lowers their overall asking price.

    A lot of people think #2 is the answer, but there's one big reason why I think it's total bullshit. If true, Enix would fucking revolt. Everyone forgets this, but Enix was, for all intents and purposes the dominant force of the Square-Enix merger. Unlike Squaresoft, they had money and only agreed to the Square-Enix merger if Square agreed to a long list of demands.

    The Enix side of things makes them a shit ton of money and that includes the anime and non-gaming media branches they painstakingly created before forming Square-Enix. Those Enix executives are only going to allow someone else to buy the company if they get paid.

    That's why I think what we are looking at with the sale ,and the news surrounding Balan Wonderland, is a simple fact: Square-Enix is incompetently run and bad at business. They might have some of the most talented designers, programmers, and coders in the entire Japanese video game industry, but their executives are a cavalcade of morons.

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    bigsocrates

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    @zombiepie: They're a reasonably profitable company with, to my understanding, reasonably healthy financials. I don't think the executives are a bunch of morons, at least not in an industry where we've seen so many huge companies implode due to mismanagement. They never got the Western studios to make money and they mismanaged them in many ways, but they also avoided killing their golden geese for a very long time, which is something that many formally going concerns can't exactly say.

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