Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Final Fantasy IX: Graphics

One of the things I'm noticing on this playthrough is just how 'bad' the graphics are in Final Fantasy IX. I know there are a bunch of mitigating factors causing it to look worse than I remember, and worse than FFVII and FFVIII, but it's still a little jarring to play.

The first difference, and probably the most important one, is I'm playing the original PSX version of the game on a PS2. When I played FFVII and FFVIII I played the downloaded versions on my PSP. I don't think the games were changed in any way for the PS Network downloads but screen size and AV connection differences are probably a big deal. I do remember being impressed by how good the games looked on the PSP; maybe it is helping in some way.

I'm connecting my PS2 up to the tv with standard composite cables. I don't know the details behind it but people in the know say it's a pretty bad option. The steaming FAQs I've been reading place it above only the old AV cable switchbox thing from the really old days. S-video, component, and hdmi get better and better. I don't think the PS2 can do hdmi, but it can definitely do the others. I actually went looking for an S-video cable when I went out this weekend to visit Sky but the two game stores near where he live didn't have any. I'm probably going to order one online at some point. So probably I could get a better picture with better cables, and I can believe the PSP internally uses a better connection between GPU and the built in screen than whatever the PS2 is doing with the composite cables.

Resolution is a big deal because the PSX output images in 240p resolution and a 4:3 aspect ratio and my big screen tv is happiest with 1080p and 16:9 ratio. I figured out how to force it to go 4:3 by ignoring the sides of the screen but it's still upscaling the gameplay pretty heavily. Everything is pretty pixelated. It's still totally playable, don't get me wrong, but it looks off. I don't remember having quite the same problems with the SNES games, probably because while those games looked super outdated they were super outdated 2d games and felt more retro than low quality. Again, the PSP screen was undoubtedly built with the right dimensions and proportions for the games I was playing.

At any rate, the characters and combat and stuff seem pixelated but every now and then they play an FMV sequence and just like the other PSX era games the FMVs in this game are pretty fantastic. The blockiness from the regular game is gone, so I wonder if the FMVs are in a higher resolution or if the prerendering did something good for them. Here's a video from a sequence not too far into the game when the evil queen Brahne has finally figured out how to use summon magic and decides to use Odin to completely obliterate a poor town full of innocent dancers... And he's pretending to be the aliens from Independence Day!

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