final fantasy IX

The PS1 Final Fantasy games used beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds to convey their visual ideas. This was a common practice at the time, also seen in Resident Evil. The benefit was much higher detail and fidelity at the cost of a fixed perspective (hence the tank controls of RE). Full 3D environments became the norm as full 3D camera control also became standard. The backgrounds were impressive at the time, but when FFVII and FFIX were ‘remastered’ for mobile phones, PC, and eventually ported to PS4, only the 3D character models could be redone or polished up. The structure of the still image backgrounds meant they were encased in 340×340 carbonite.

Here’s an example of the iOS/PC/PS4 updated character models and font, sticking out against the blurry backgrounds.

Back in 2013, the ‘lost art of FFIX’ was posted by mama robotnik, who stated:

In my research, I unearthed artwork that show a ludicrous level of detail went into the game – detail that never made it into the final product due to the limitations of the target format. The “lost art” referenced in the thread title isn’t meant to describe this content as having been lost and found – it refers to the art details that were lost when the graphics were downconverted to a limited 32-bit console.”

Why bring up a four-year-old thread? Because instead of SquareEnix simply porting over the iOS version of a much-loved title, they blew the chance of incorporating these beautiful images into the definitive version of the game.

Hey you looked at them all!

I’m no coder, but swapping out the images for the higher resolution ones couldn’t be too cost prohibitive, especially considering they could charge more! That’s assuming all of the backgrounds are safe and sound somewhere, but looking at this treasure trove, it seems SquareEnix has held on to the past.

Beautiful to look at but ultimately disappointing that we’ll never see an official version released with the true intended art to back up the charming story.

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