We’ve learned Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka is making smartphone games, following his departure from Square Enix after Balan Wonderworld failed to live up to expectations.
“Thank you for your birthday message,” Naka said on Twitter. “Recently I’ve started studying programs again, and I’m making a simple game for smartphones with Unity.”
He added, “It’s not a big deal because it’s made by one person, but programming for making games is fun. I hope you can play the app.”
Previously, Naka said that he only got the go-ahead for developing Balan Wonderworld with Square Enix by going directly to the president of the company – however it was clear if it didn’t perform well, the game would be his “one chance.”
When the game did release it quickly got updates to address bugs and things, even a potential epilepsy trigger. The game reportedly failed to even break the top 40 sales charts worldwide, and was largely averaging a 50 or less score on Metacritic.
Our own review for Balan Wonderworld noted that the game suffered from high expectations, considering it has one of the pioneers of platforming games like Naka attached to it and with Square Enix backing it financially. It had promise, but unfortunately came out feeling unpolished and like it had waste potential.
While Yuji Naka is making smartphone games, it’ll be interesting to see how the veteran developer approaches smaller scale and budget titles. His previous smaller budget titles like Rodea the Sky Soldier were also unique but failed to score or sell highly.
Balan Wonderworld is available now on Windows PC (via Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.