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Yuji Naka is no longer working at Square Enix

Yuji Naka

Yuji Naka, the co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, appears to have departed Square Enix. The departure comes after unfavorable critical reaction to his latest title, Balan Wonderworld.

IGN reported on the situation earlier today:

Balan Wonderworld director and Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator Yuji Naka has unexpectedly left Square Enix, following a poor reception to his latest game.

IGN has independently verified that Naka left the company at the end of April, after Nintendeal pointed out that the developer’s Facebook page had been updated to list an end point to his employment at Square Enix. It remains unclear if Naka’s departure was his decision or Square Enix’s.

Balan flops

Following the failure of Balan Wonderworld in the eyes of critics, there has been speculation about Yuji Naka’s future with Square Enix. Naka oversaw production on Balan Wonderworld, which was released in March. The press gave the game a low rating. It has an OpenCritic average of just 48 percent and only 10 percent of critics recommending it.

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Back in September 2020, Naka told IGN that Balan Wonderworld was his “one shot” to create a full-fledged platformer. Naka is best known as the former leader of Sonic Team, where he also served as the original Sonic The Hedgehog’s principal programmer. Later, he oversaw the production of additional Sega products such as Nights into Dreams, Burning Rangers, and Phantasy Star Online.

Balan Wonderworld is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.